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Quote of the Day: Decapitating the Headless in Iran

BY Nancy Scola | Tuesday, November 30 2010

Anecdotal evidence indicates that GPO leaders, especially [Mir Hossein] Mousavi, have from the start favored a horizontal, diffuse, decentralized GPO structure as opposed to amore hierarchical one.

Indeed, part of the GPO's resilience stems from this defuse and decentralized nature, frustrating a regime that has come to rely on the two-step of identifying and decapitating leadership as its main tool for extinguishing dissent. In this regard communication technologies such as the Internet and SMS technology have been a significant 'force multiplier,' with virtual space in many ways playing the same 'information-center' role now that the networks of mosques played in the 1979 Revolution.

-- From a January 10th, 2010, State Department cable originating from State's* Regional Presence Office based in Dubai, published as part of Wikileaks' so-called Cablegate release, on the aftermath of Iran's "fixed June 12 Presidential election." The cable paints the tech-savvy Green Path Opposistion, of which Mousavi was the public face, as a more resilent organization because it was more starfish than spider.

But, a twist: elsewhere in the cable, State's Iran observers hint at the idea that the power of the Internet might have in fact fueled a public misperception at just how powerful and widespread the Iranian opposistion to the presidential election results really were. You might remember the video-taped death of Neda Agha-Soltan, a gruesome few minutes of tape that the State Department's Alec Ross pointed to at PdF LatAm a couple weeks back as a catalyzing artifact when it came to global public opinion on how the Iranian regime's handled their citizens' reaction to the June election. But content like that, suggests the cable, might overemphasize how widespread displeasure with the standing government is inside Iran.

"Finally and in many ways most importantly," goes the cable, "'if it bleeds it leads,' so there are no 'Youtube' uploads on demonstration days of the millions of ordinary Iranians who are going about their business."