The Green Revolution is About More Than Twitter
In ‘Spinning the War: Political Communications, Information Operations and Public Diplomacy in the War on Terrorism’, Robin Brown refers to a quote from Karl Von Clausewitz that perfectly embodies both the Brown and Kai Hafez (“International Reporting”) pieces on global media “War is nothing more than the continuation of politics“.
As both pieces prove, much of the way the people of the world see the ‘War on Terror’ is based on the media. According to Robin Brown, “as Politics and society change so does the nature of war,” thus, since we live in a multimedia world with a 24 hour news cycle the portrayals and framing of the ‘enemies’ and ‘enemy nations’ play a large role in how the ‘War on Terror’ and issues framed around it are perceived.
For instance, though Twitter played a huge role in Iran’s Green Revolution, to present it as a revolution made possible by American companies (let’s not leave out the roles that Facebook, Youtube, Google Maps, and Flickr all played as well) makes it more of a novelty, a one time phenomenon rather than a shift in Iranian society. In reality though, the power of the Green Revolution was that it gathered together masses of people in Iran. This was an important development as many critics have cited Iranian apathy with Ahmadinejad’s original rise to power. Iranians of all ages, sexes, and classes were marching in the streets. Whether it was mullahs marching in the streets, Ayatollahs dissing Ahmadinejad, declaring fatwas or calling the election illegitimate, the Green Revolution brought people from all spectrums of Iranian society to the streets both in favor of and against the government. It was more than the Event-Centered definition of news that Hafez points to.
There was little talk of the significance of a movement in Iran that engages all people, not just students (as in 1999) and that harkens back to the original revolution of ’79 (calls of Allah hu Akbar).
The Green Revolution also went against the traditional geographic tropes that the media uses to break down the world. As Hafez says, spatial representations like the ‘The West’ and ‘The Islamic World’ rarely define the central themes of very real places. Mousavi was not calling for the overthrow of Iran’s theocracy, in fact, it must be asked if many people in the West truly knew Mousavi and his possible Administration would have stood for. The Green Revolution was not the traditional idea of conflict represented in the international media – Democracy vs. Islam. These people felt robbed of their vote for a man who by all Western standards was probably not too dissimilar to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in many ways. More important than the candidates though, the people of Iran demanded that their voices be heard. This was not Al Gore vs. George Bush in Tehran, this was a vocal outcry for their votes. For the Iranians to prove that they do have a voice.
To further complicate these spatial definitions, when Ahmadinejad and Khameini both reverted to the red herrings of Zionism, Israel, and Imperialism, the people of took to the streets shouting “No to Gaza, No to Lebanon, I‘m giving my life to Iran.“Rather than allying themselves with the larger Muslim ummah that Ahmadinejad and Khameini referred to, the Iranian people exhibited the American ideal of individualism in response to the government’s scapegoats and red herrings about rallying around a purported common malevolent enemy.