The Iranian Uprising Escalates

As hard as it to get information out of Iran (no foreign reporting is allowed), it is now very clear that something very significant has happened and is in the process of happening there today.  The opposition to one of the worst governments of the modern era is spreading, growing more organic, more national, and from what we saw today even more courageous and brave. 

A NY Times's blog, The Lede, has incredible accounts today of both the insanity of the government itself, and brutal reports from the streets of Tehran and other cities. 

The Obama Administration issued the following statement in response to the widespread murdering of every day Iranians by their own government:

We strongly condemn the violent and unjust suppression of civilians in Iran seeking to exercise their universal rights.  Hope and history are on the side of those who peacefully seek their universal rights, and so is the United States.  Governing through fear and violence is never just, and as President Obama said in Oslo - it is telling when governments fear the aspirations of their own people more than the power of any other nation

More soon. 

Update 830pm Mountain Time: Despite the extraordinary steps the Iranian government has taken in recent months to contain the information flow from inside Iran to the rest of the world, we - all of us - are able to watch graphic scenes of Iranian government repression in almost real time.  The people of Iran have through the year desperately attempted to share these images and accounts using the modern tools available to them - mobile devices, facebook, twitter, youtube and email.  That we are able to see so much despite the government's efforts should be a powerful warning to other repressive regimes that there is no going back now in this digital age.  These new tools are giving regular people just too much power. Repression has a powerful new opponent, one of the most powerful it has ever had - the ubiquitous global communications network that really is, truly, always on and increasingly everywhere.

Consider this new passage from The Lede:

The Lede will continue to follow events in Iran and sift through the evidence of protests and clashes posted on the Web in the days ahead. The Iranian journalist and blogger Omid Habibinia notes that this final video we will embed today appears to show a Basij militia building in Tehran burning on Sunday at or near the country’s state-run oil company. The fact that more than half a dozen people can be seen in this clip recording the incident suggests that we will continue to have a lot of material to sort through.

This is why in the midst of the news flowing out of Iran today I tweeted (simonwdc if you want to follow):

Increasingly feels like the great ideological battles of our coming century will be less left vs right, and more open vs closed.

Given all that has happened in the Middle East in recent years, and the role Iran has played, what is unfolding in the streets of Iran may be the most important set of political events taking place any where in the world today.  The global legitimacy of the leaders and institutions in power are being destroyed now, weakening Iran's hand in the nuclear negotiations taking place now, for sure, but also, eventually, weakening the hand of their political allies in Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine and other countries in the region.

But it is also a powerful warning to the repressive regimes in the region - US allied or not - that the will of their own people can no longer be dismissed as before.  For a region so despotic these events - cries of death to the current elected President - must be both thrilling for champions of democracy, and terrifying to its opponents.

So given all this, should our President, on vacation, getting a very needed rest, do more? is the statement released today, stronger than similar statements released earlier this year, enough?  What else could be done? Should be done? Can the free nations of the world do more than suggest that we are watching?  The answer, I think, has much more significance than just the events unfolding in Iran now.  It will help lay the intellectual predicate of what we will come to know as the Obama foreign policy doctrine in the coming years.

I weighed in on all this in quite a lengthy essay back when the Iranian Uprising began in earnest. 

I can't stop watching the images coming from Iran, and feel myself wanting to do much more than blog and write.  I end by wishing the people of Iran, potentially sacrificing so much in the face of such a horribly dangerous and repressive government, well in their inspiring struggles in the days ahead.  My thoughts, prayers and wishes are with you.

Tues Afternoon Update: Many news agencies have reported the arrest of Iranian opposition leaders today, and the Lede has more videos of the clashes yesterday.   At his press conference this morning, the President said this about what was happening in Iran:

The United States joins with the international community in strongly condemning the violent and unjust suppression of innocent Iranian citizens, which has apparently resulted in tensions, injuries and even death.

For months the Iranian people have sought nothing more than to exercise their universal rights.  Each time they have done so they have been met with the iron fist of brutality, even on solemn occasions and holy days.  And each time that has happened the world has watched with deep admiration for the courage and the conviction of the Iranian people, who are a part of Iran's great and enduring civilization.

What's taking place within Iran is not about the United States or any other country -- it's about the Iranian people and their aspirations for justice and a better life for themselves.  And the decision of Iran's leaders to govern through fear and tyranny will not succeed in making those aspirations go away.  As I said in Oslo, it's telling when governments fear the aspirations of their own people more than the power of any other nation.

Along with all free nations the United States stands with those who seek their universal rights.  We call upon the Iranian government to abide by the international obligations that it has to respect the rights of its own people.  We call for the immediate release of all who have been unjustly detained within Iran.  We will continue to bear witness to the extraordinary events that are taking place there.  And I'm confident that history will be on the side of those who seek justice.

Tues PM Update - The NY Times is reporting that the Iranian government has lashed out at the West, for, I guess, paying attention to its murdering and jailing of its own people.