Blog crackdown in Iran

by Henry on November 8, 2004

One of the problems of writing about current affairs is that your claims are often overtaken by events. So it goes for the “article”:http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/files/story2707.php that Dan Drezner and I have in the current issue of _Foreign Policy_. We said (accurately at the time of writing) that blogs in Iran have provided a partial substitute for reformist newspapers that have been shut down, and that “government efforts to [censor the Internet] have been sporadic and only partially successful.” The Iranian blogosphere is one of the very few inarguable cases of how the Internet can sometimes create more pressure towards democratization. However, almost immediately after our article went to press, hardliners in Iran “began to crack down”:http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/08/international/middleeast/08iran.html?ex=1257570000&en=f66adc94fd502c39&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland on reformist websites and blogs. Now that the anti-reformist elements in the government have decided to take action, I suspect that the outlook for political blogs in Iran isn’t very good, although outside protests and negative publicity may help limit the extent of the backlash (it’s “worked”:http://www.ojr.org/ojr/glaser/1073610866.php, at least in part, in the past).

A Soviet-style election ?

by John Quiggin on November 8, 2004

With Fallujah being pounded to bits, jihadi and insurgent attacks everywhere and a state of emergency, this may seem like a bad time to discuss the Iraqi elections, but there’s no reason to suppose that there’s going to be a better one.

In the Washington Post, Marina Ottaway develops concerns I’ve expressed previously about the possibility that the Iraqi election will degenerate into a Yes-No vote on a unified slate of candidates with a predetermined sharing of the spoils (thanks to Jack Strocchi for the link). Apparently the US Embassy/shadow government is backing this idea. It seems unbelievable that anyone on the US side could see this as a good idea (of course, it makes great sense for Allawi who would be wiped out in a competitive election), but this kind of thing has been the pattern at every previous stage of the occupation.