A review of Democracy in Iran: Why It Failed and How It Might Succeed by Misagh Parsa.
Wrongly viewed by many media sources as a victory for “reform” and “openness,” the recent presidential election in Iran actually reflected the demoralization and disengagement of the country’s prodemocratic opposition.
When students and other rights activists decided to seize a tactical opening that the regime cynically offered them during the 2009 campaign, they were making a choice that was even more fateful than they knew.
Observers who focus too much on elections have failed to grasp the maturation of Iranian civil society, even as hard-liners have come to dominate the government.
The birth of a civil rights movement in Iran is a ray of hope in a region beset by difficulties, and the most promising response to the new totalitarian threat that is endangering the world's stability.
The election results reflect less what voters want than the ideological dynamics that shape the behavior of factions within the regime.
Although Islamist terror groups invoke a host of religious references, the real source of their ideas is not the Koran but rather Leninism, fascism, and other strains of twentieth-century thought that exalt totalitarian violence.
Once again, a reformist electoral victory has been followed by political setbacks. The key to understanding this paradoxical pattern lies in the unique theocratic constitutional structure of the Islamic Republic.