A recent "vote" highlights the tenuousness of free elections in the modern world—all us who hold true liberal democracy in high regard—and gives us pause to consider what we enjoy. We may be split on election day, and have watercooler debates, but at the end of the day we're all Americans and proud of what we've achieved these past two centuries.
It is important to not forget another "experiment" in recent decades, that of the Islamic Republic of Iran. A failed experiment perhaps, but educated Iranians want and desire true "change" and freedom from repression in the guise of the pious Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It's easy to superimpose our values on one of the oldest civilizations on earth; we expect modern Iranians to blindly "like us" and be our friends in a region of the planet heavily exploited by past empires. We forget the true or perceived grievances many ordinary Iranians hold.
A common dialogue between our two cultures is gravely needed to get past the differences and our pie-in-the-sky Pollyannaism. Everyday news out of Iran does not look particularly promising, and the violence against ordinary citizens continues there unabated. Explicitly frightening is the measured takeover of public and private Iranian assets by the Revolutionary Guard, self-styled thugs whose tendrils threaten to overthrow whatever shreds of a republic exists and slowly rot Iran from within. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may not be the Supreme Leader, but he shows every sign of emulating Saddam Hussein's military dictatorship. An Iranian war is already underway, and it appears to be inside its own borders. I postulate a future Iran in Ether ruled by a dynastic thug whose origins are rooted in the Revolutionary Guard. Iran is a nation of many splintered peoples, held tight by an increasingly deplorable state apparatus spiraling towards tyranny, much like Iraq once.
If you were President of the United States, what would you do?
Profile: Iran's Revolutionary Guards
Iran: Where did all the votes come from?
Recognizing Iran as a Strategic Threat: An Intelligence Challenge for the United States