On Democracy Now! on Monday, Amy Goodman had an interesting interview with Hamid Dabashi, a professor at Columbia University, on how the nonviolent uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt have impacted the Green Movement in Iran.
Dabashi provocatively argues that the recent house arrest of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi will backfire on the regime by creating “the Iranian Mandela.” He also contends that:
The Green Movement went through at least two phases. The first phase was phase of mass street demonstrations that began back in June of 2009 and continued all the way until February 2010. The second phase, when Mousavi began to write a series documents culminating in a charter of the Green Movement which are extraordinary documents in the history of democratic movements in Iran. But in the aftermath of this massive, massive democracy movement in North Africa to Afghanistan, in fact, these events galvanized the Green Movement in Iran. And as a result, we have entered a new phase.
Unfortunately, he doesn’t explain exactly why this should be considered a new phase, separate from the street demonstrations that have taken place in Iran since the elections in 2009. Yes, there have been new demonstrations in Iran since the fall of Mubarak. But in my mind, there would need to be a substantive shift in strategy and tactics used by the Green Movement to consider what has happened a new phase in the nonviolent struggle, which doesn’t so far seem to be the case.
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Recent criticisms calling the founder of nonviolent theory a Cold Warrior are way off the mark. To rightly evaluate him, we need to understand the role he chose for himself.
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