I'm just as willing as anyone to believe that the Iranian election was rigged; and of course I condemn the brutal suppression of demonstrators in Tehran and other cities who think they were robbed of victory.
All I ask is some serious evidence that the election really was crooked, and I mean better evidence than has been making the rounds so far. For example, the normally sage Juan Cole doubts the election was on the level because people apparently did not vote along the ethnic lines he would have predicted; Cole also raises other indications that the election returns do not correspond to what would be expected according to the past behavior of people in various regions and cities.
Interestingly, however, Nate Silver, whose predictions about the U.S. primaries and general election turned out to be so accurate last year, questions some other "statistical" evidence making the rounds in Iran and elsewhere purporting to show the election was stolen.
Perhaps stronger evidence of fraud is out there, and will be forthcoming soon. Meanwhile, it does not make sense to me to base such conclusions on fuzzy assumptions about how people should have voted. By that standard, John McCain most certainly won the 2008 presidential election. I mean, come on, who can really believe that a Black guy named Barack Obama won Florida, New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, Indiana, Virginia, Iowa, Washington state, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, etc? Clearly rigged, as we know how racist and right wing so many of the people in those states really are.
Of course, the current Iranian government may soon prove to its people that it does not deserve to be in power, and what is happening in the streets may ultimately turn out to be more important than what happened at the ballot box. But unfortunately, we may never really know what that was...
PS--Some people, including those who should know better, are putting a lot of stock in an obviously forged "letter" supposedly sent by Iran's Interior Minister to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Another contrarian view on Iran. In the Guardian, by Seumas Milne, who questions the evidence that the election was fraudulent and examines how it all fits into U.S. global strategy. A situation like this requires the ability to hold two contradictory thoughts in one's head and to engage in subtle thinking: As brutal and intolerable as the government repression of the protests is, Western sympathizers should not automatically assume that the opposition represents the majority of Iranians. On the other hand, heavy-handed government actions may eventually tip that balance.