Akbar Ganji begins a piece in Foreign Affairs titled “Meet Ahmadinejad’s Chosen Successor” by writing:
On June 14, Iran will hold a presidential election. If the acrimony and fraud of the 2009 election was not enough to cast a pall over this vote, then the ongoing power struggle between Supreme Leader Aytollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad surely is.
The claim that Ahmadinejad won Iran’s 2009 presidential by “fraud” persists despite all evidence suggesting that he was legitimately reelected.
It’s a topic I’ve written much about, so it seems like a good time to review my past writings on the matter. In June 209, shortly after the election, I wrote a piece asking, “Has the U.S. Played a Role in Fomenting Unrest During Iran’s Election?” In it, I reviewed the history of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and its role in undermining foreign elections to suit U.S. interests, as narrowly defined by policy makers; the creation of the Office of Iranian Affairs under the Bush administration with the purpose of creating propaganda and supporting dissident groups to create regime change from within; U.S. covert actions inside Iran; and the propagandistic nature of U.S. media coverage of the 2009 election.
I was criticized for daring to suggest that the U.S. might have played a role in fomenting the unrest that accompanied the election by journalist Reese Erlich (see my reply here), the Wall Street Journal’s Tames Taranto (my reply here), Antiwar’s Justin Raimondo (reply here), and Hamid Dabashi (reply here). Dori Smith of Talk Nation Radio also interviewed me and we had a great discussion about my article.
Following that extensive article, I blogged about how the U.S. was continuing to support dissident groups under the Obama administration in accordance with the policy of seeking regime change from within effectively made into law with the Iran Freedom Support Act of 2006. I found it interesting that Manucher Ghorbanifar, the Iranian arms dealer who served as a go-between for the CIA, Israel, and the Komeini regime during the Iran-Contra affair, was a close friend and adviser to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s leading opponent in the election, Mir Hussein Mousavi. Then I blogged some more about NED and U.S. support for Iranian opposition groups, as well as propaganda broadcasting operations inside Iran and State Department grants for news websites targeting Iran.
When U.S. media outlets started showing photos purporting to show fraudulent ballots that were cast during the election, I showed how this was completely baseless and pure propaganda.
Then there was the case of the alleged “fatwa” to rig the election, which claim was propagated by Tehran Bureau, a website that appears to have been created for the primary purpose of spreading propaganda in opposition to Ahmadinejad and in favor of Mousavi, a campaign staff member of whose was a key source for material put out by Tehran Bureau. (Dr. Evan Siegal posted a critical response to that piece on his blog objecting to my central thesis that the claim of a stolen election was the product of an orchestrated propaganda campaign, which I responded to in turn here.)
Then there was the case of the mystery voters, the claim that turnouts of more than 100% in certain areas proved fraud, considered at the time to best evidence of a stolen election. I wrote about how this was just another propaganda claim being peddled by opposition groups with apparent links to the Broadcasting Board of Governors, an agency of the U.S. government under whose umbrella operate broadcasting stations like Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and Radio Farda; and how such media outlets are forbidden by law from broadcasting inside the U.S. on the grounds that the government should not subject its own citizens to propaganda.
Then Chatham House put out a report claiming evidence of a stolen election, which was mostly a rehashing of previous propaganda, such as the claim that a high voter turnout in certain areas showed fraud. The report also claimed there had been a “swing” to Ahmadinejad, when in fact he had also won the run-off election in 2005 by a solid majority and public opinion surveys before the 2009 election showed him with a solid lead over leading contender Mousavi.
I wasn’t entirely alone in challenging the propaganda claim that Ahmadinejad stole the election. There were several others who refused to jump on the mainstream bandwagon and challenged the conventional narrative. Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett wrote an excellent piece on the subject for Foreign Policy in which they cited two papers systematically debunking the claim of election fraud. The first paper was written by Reza Esfandiari and Yousef Bozorghehr in response to the Chatham House report and the second paper was written by Eric Brill. Both Esfandiari and Brill had seen my own work challenging the accepted narrative and contacted me to review that their papers before publication (I later reviewed another paper of Brill’s on the subject of the U.N., the IAEA, and Iran’s nuclear program). I blogged in June 2010 about how we were the exception to the rule and how the propaganda narrative continued to dominate despite no merely a complete lack of evidence for it, but despite all indications being that Ahmadinejad had legitimately won.
Needless to say, the prestigious journal Foreign Affairs still hasn’t gotten the memo.