What A Difference A President Makes

Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial today about recent events in Iran. The editorial highlights the difference between the way the Obama administration handled protests and the Trump administration is handling protestors.

The editorial states:

In recent days, headlines such as “In Iran, revolution is starting in the bazaar,” “Clashes Continue in Iran for Third Day After Grand Bazaar Merchant Protest,” and “Tehran’s Grand Bazaar Shut Down As Economic Protests Spread,” have run in global media, with little apparent notice.

It’s a big deal. A very big deal.

The 39-year-old dictatorship of the Mullahs in Tehran may be on the verge of dissolving, as Trump imposes new, stiff sanctions on Iran’s economy and Iran’s currency, the rial, plunges sharply, prices soar and the economy collapses. Average Iranians are losing faith in the government and taking to the streets.

In dealing with Iran, it is important to remember the demographics of the country. A large segment of their population was killed during the Iran/Iraq War between 1980 and 1988. The current profile of the Iranian population is 24.1 percent under the age of 15, 70.1 percent between 15 and 64 years old, and 5 percent of the population 65+. That means that the twenty year olds who participated in the Iranian revolution now comprise 5 percent of the population.

According to unc.edu:

A scholarly article based on the records of the Veteran and Martyrs Affairs Foundation, a government agency, recently counted 183,623 Iranian deaths as a result of the war.

To put that into perspective, Iran had a population of 80.9 million people in 2017.

The majority of the population has grown up in a very restrictive culture and  does not necessarily supported the rule of the mullahs. The current economic struggles have only exacerbated the discontent of the majority of young Iranians.

The editorial states:

Tehran’s Grand Bazaar, its central meeting place and business center, has been filled with tens of thousands of angry protesters nearly every day. Yet, the media are paying little attention. Neither are average citizens in the West. But it bears close watching.

Some chant anti-government slogans, including “The enemy is here. They (the regime) lie that it is the U.S.” Not lost on average Iranians is the fact that, as Najmeh Bozorgmehr writes in the Financial Times, “The bazaar played a crucial role in the 1979 Islamic revolution when traders joined forces with the clergy to overthrow Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.”

Is history repeating itself?

If so, this will remake the entire Mideast. Without the fundamentalists in power, Iran will almost certainly begin modernizing both its economy and its culture. Moreover, the nuclear weapons program that is at the heart of western discontent with Iran could be dismantled.

Last time, the U.S. sat and watched, not giving its ally, the Shah, any support. This time is different.

The U.S. Treasury under President Trump has already begun to revoke licenses, according to the Associated Press, that let U.S.-controlled foreign companies sell commercial jet parts and oilfield gear to Iran. It also bans sale of Iran’s famous carpets, pistachios and caviar in the U.S., major exports for the financially troubled nation.

This follows Trump’s decision in May to pull out of President Obama’s so-called Iran nuclear agreement. That deal didn’t halt work on a nuclear weapon; it merely postponed an Iranian nuke by 10 years.

Despite criticism from Britain, China, Russia, Germany, France and the European Union, Trump held fast. Angry rhetoric notwithstanding, foreign banks have fallen into line, fearing sanctions from the U.S. Two-thirds of all global trade is conducted in dollars. As sanctions bite and its oil industry struggles, Iran’s mullahs are short on cash.

By these moves, Trump has empowered the people taking to the streets in Tehran and elsewhere. The last time this happened, during Iran’s 2009 “Green Revolution,” by comparison, President Obama did nothing. Indeed, within years, Obama had signed a Neville-Chamberlain-style appeasement deal Iran’s leaders. Disgracefully, it basically gave them a sure path to a nuclear bomb.

This protest is important. It could eventually change the face of the Middle East.

What Is Happening At Our Colleges?

Yesterday The Daily Caller posted an article some recent events at Swarthmore College. The administration of the college has announced that it may discipline five students for taking over an administration building for four hours last month. The students have responded with disappointment and confusion.

The article reports:

The demonstrating students are part of Swarthmore’s Mountain Justice group, a campus organization which is perpetually demanding that Swarthmore’s trustees sell all the fossil-fuel stocks in the school’s luxurious $1.9 billion endowment portfolio.

The latest divestment protest occurred on Swarthmore’s campus on Feb. 24, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.

…Then, on March 17, Swarthmore’s administration sent disciplinary citations to five of the students. The quintet of protesters now faces punishments ranging from a mere warning to possible probation.

In a statement, Swarthmore president Valerie Smith observed that the college has a long tradition of student protest, but noted that the protesters “crowded into” Amstutz’s (Mark C. Amstutz, the chief investment officer) office and prevented him “from completing all but the most menial of tasks and restricting his movements and rights.”

The students “were warned multiple times that they were in violation of the student conduct policy and were given the chance to move to the hallway to continue their protest,” Smith said.

Turns out, keeping administrators from doing their jobs is a violation of Swarthmore’s student conduct policies.

The students claim that they broke no rules and even helped with shredding some papers in the office. Wow. I wonder if they were papers that Amstutz wanted shredded.

There are a lot of things to think about in this article.

The article reminds us:

Swarthmore costs $63,550 for a single year of tuition, fees and room and board.

By way of comparison, Swarthmore’s $1.9 billion endowment is worth more than the entire annual gross-domestic product of Belize.

The students who attend Swarthmore are either very smart and go there on a scholarship or they are the children of privilege. These students find it disappointing and confusing that they were expected to follow the rules listed in their student handbook. Theoretically, these students would be the leaders of tomorrow. If they cannot even follow the rules in the student handbook, what kind of leaders will they make?

The article concludes with an amazing fact:

In 2014, a then-sophomore at Swarthmore, Erin Ching criticized her school for allowing Christian conservative thinker Robert George to speak on campus. “What really bothered me is, the whole idea is that at a liberal arts college, we need to be hearing a diversity of opinion,” Ching whined — apparently without irony.

Wow.