Iran, Victory Culture: Wednesday Reading

Tom Engelhardt’s essay, “The Empire of Stupidity,” discusses Iraq, Vietnam and ‘victory culture.’ Engelhardt is author of the recently reissued The End of Victory Culture“, with a new preface and conclusion. It is in some ways an answer to Frederick Jackson Turner’s conundrum– if the Frontier had been so central to American identity, what would happen now that (in the 1890s) the frontier was closing up? Engelhardt’s work has two implications. First, the frontier has just been projected abroad, and other ‘native’ peoples substituted for the ‘Injuns.’ And, second, that frontier gets old fast, too. (Cole: There is a reason we don’t watch shows like Gunsmoke in prime time any more, folks). So, the American Right takes refuge in myths like ‘we could have won in Vietnam’ and remembers its boyhood games when heroes and villains were so easy to tell apart. Engelhardt’s book is a must read.

At the Global Affairs blog, a rich cornucopia of postings on Iran.

Farideh Farhi gives us A Change of Guard in Tehran on important alterations in the leadership of the Revolutionary Guards.

And she also weighs in on Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani’s election to head the Council of Guardians, which acts as Iran’s senate and will select the successor to Supreme Jurisprudent Ali Khamenei.

(For background on this contest, see this earlier posting on the struggle for this position between mere conservatives and the radicals.)

Barney Rubin kindly shares a translated article on the release or prospective release of two other Iranian-American intellectuals imprisoned since last spring.