Home/Daniel Larison/The Green Movement Wasn’t an Insurrection

The Green Movement Wasn’t an Insurrection

Here is a quick reminder of why no one should listen to Michael Ledeen on anything related to Iran:

In 2009, when massive protests followed Iran’s disputed presidential vote, Mr. Obama sat by as the insurrection [bold mine-DL] was brutally put down by the Tehran regime.

This is a falsehood that Iran hawks have pushed on and off for four years. It has beenrepeatedlyexposedasnonsense, but that doesn’t seem to matter to the people recycling it. When Ledeen calls the 2009 protests an “insurrection,” he’s partially letting the regime off the hook for killing peaceful protesters, since calling it an insurrection implies an attempt at violently overthrowing the government. It is a little odd that hard-line Iran hawks end up echoing official Iranian propaganda about the Green movement, but the lie that the Green movement was a seditious one is very useful to hard-liners in both countries.

The current Iranian leadership is happy to portray the Green movement as “seditionists,” because this de-legitimizes and undermines the protesters’ original demands for political reform and redress for violation of civil rights. If the Green movement can be portrayed as trying to overthrow the government, that makes it even more politically difficult for them inside Iran and creates the pretext for even harsher treatment. Hard-liners here want to pretend that the Green movement was an “insurrection” in order to complain about the administration’s response to the protests and to project their own fantasy of regime change onto the Iranian opposition, which doesn’t seek it. It’s fair to say that Iran hawks have been interested in U.S. support for the Green movement insofar as they believe it is a vehicle for regime change. Some of them are more than happy to adopt groups with a long record of political violence as the “real” Iranian opposition, which is one reason why there are so many eager MEK boosters in the U.S. these days.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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