Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Stratfor's Derailment

By the by, anybody else noticed that Stratfor seems to be just completely without a clue on the Iran issue? I just read George Friedman's latest and it features a lot of assertions that don't even pass the laugh test: that there are no protests outside of Tehran, that it's all just wealthy kids, and (most bizarrely) that there was no serious irregularities in the election.

That last one is just ludicrous, for reasons that have been exhaustively repeated: Moussavi somehow lost his home town, Karroubi didn't have as many voters as campaign workers, supra-100% turnout in 50 cities, multiple witnesses corraborating ballot-switching, statistical analysis, etc.

But it's the others that are more surprising. Yes, you could theoretically make this argument the day after the election. But it's been made perfectly clear that it is Ahmadinejad and Khamenei whose positions are weak (not Rafsanjani and the opposition clerics), that the military is divided at best, and that popular outrage over the repression is quickly replacing outrage over the election itself as a motivating factor. No sensible analyst would ignore these things when trying to describe the situation as it stands or likely future scenarios, so why is the guy running the vaunted Stratfor not doing so?

(Hell, isn't Stratfor all about open intel analysis? How is it that they're missing the volumes of Sigint coming out of Iran?)

Well, honestly, that's a rhetorical question. I know the answer. Friedman put his reputation on the line as someone who believes that Ahmadinejad has popular support and is going to retain power, and knows that the only way he can salvage that reputation is if he sticks with his prediction. He's not a pundit, paid for being entertaining: he and his company are contracted based on their track record, and admitting to miscalling something this big could have a serious impact.

So, amusingly, we get the spectacle of Stratfor staying firm- hoping against hope that the "twitterers" get put down.

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