Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Nonviolent Guerilla Tactics Are Now Needed in Iran

Today, the Iranian protesters have met the most ferocious brutality thus far. Reports indicate the Basiji have begun to kill protesters in massive numbers. Certainly, this has instilled fear in the hearts of those who have been putting their lives on the line every day hour of every day.

Over the past several days, I have posted about the conflict in Iran, especially regarding nonviolent methods that can be used to shake the system into profound change:
If what I have read and seen via video clips is actually true, it appears that Sayed Mohammed Khatami's plan is not being followed. The swift and violent response by security forces has been potentially overwhelming against the protesters, who are still attempting to demonstrate in the same way as before. The Basiji have known exactly what was planned and, with their superior forces, they have beaten, arrested, and killed many people.

Unfortunately, the protesters are mistaken that large demonstrations are going to bring about change at this point. They must look closely at their strategic organization and begin to redirect their efforts using a broader variety of methods, something Khatami was trying to propose yesterday.

How should they do this? I will try to list a variety of approaches and methods that will lead to confusion and frustration within the government.

Here is my list of recommendations:
  • Spread out the leadership - utilize adults and students of all types, not politicians
  • Stop visible protests. Announce this publicly before the government expects it.
  • Go underground
  • Go low-tech: Stop cell phone usage and limit Internet usage
  • Print out thousands of leaflets outlining the illegitimacy of the government, state demands and goals for the future
  • Drop the leaflets from the tops of buildings in busy locations. Don't stay around. Leave quickly, so as not to be arrested.
  • Print up posters with a large green tsunami wave and "Allahu Akbar" printed in the center.
  • Quickly put up the posters throughout Iran, including on the walls of homes of the Basiji.
  • Develop an internal "Radio Free Iran." I would call it "Green Wave Radio." Broadcast for 1/2 to 1 hour per night, explaining the same information as on the leaflets. Move the broadcast location each night.
  • Avoid government agencies in whatever way possible.
  • In factories and offices, s-l-o-w the work down to a crawl...
If the brutality of the government continues during large protests, eventually an emotional fatigue and a sense of disempowerment will set in among the opponents. The government will then have a greater chance for success.

The opponents' leaders need to regain the upper hand. Now is the time to redirect the passionate energy that has grown over the past several days. Don't let the energy die! Simply recalibrate it for now because, when the time is right, large demonstrations will again play a role.

Then back off again. Redirect. Vary the methods. Nonviolent guerilla tactics are needed at this time - hit and hide, hit and hide, hit and hide.

With smaller, empowering methods, the Sea of Green can keep the government off balance. Eventually, once they recognize that their power is completely false and goes unheeded, they will capitulate.

Sea of Green, go for smaller victories. Empower yourselves! Never give up!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Khatami: "We Shall Only Think of Victory" in Iran

Iran's security forces have clamped down ferociously on large-scale demonstrations in the last couple days, so the opposition is now in a place of shifting direction. This morning, cleric Sayed Mohammed Khatami presented a new strategic plan for Iranian protesters to follow.

Khatami, president of Iran from 1997 to 2005 and current member of the Supreme Council, is perhaps the strongest voice for liberalization and reform in Iran. He has also been Mir-Hossein Mousavi's greatest supporter. Some of his family members were arrested recently and then released, sending a threat to all the leaders of the movement for change.

In his statement, Khatami points out, "We are no longer going to waste our energy [on large demonstrations]." He outlines how Iranians can move in the direction of "divide and conquer" through nonviolent means.

He asks all Iranians to go to their local bazaars (outdoor markets) and protest as a group there. There are some key differences from the group behavior of the large demonstrations: the protesters are not to carry signs, they are not to wear green, and they are encouraged to bring their children with them.

In other words, the protesters should bring no identifying markers that they are protesters when they enter the bazaar and meld into the shopping crowds, as if on a family outing. This should make identification of the protesters more difficult.

Khatami states, "We shall leave no marks or traces behind ourselves, not even the victory sign with our hands."

There is one more central strategy to be followed: the protesters are to buy nothing.

Khatami makes it clear that this is a political and economic event. "[E]very morning we shall protest towards the main bazaars of every single city in Iran. Should the revolutionary guards try to avoid the situation, the bazaar will be shut down. Should they don’t react to our protests, due to the mayhem caused by protesters, the bazaar will automatically shut down. Should they try to cut the phone lines around the country, yet again there will be a massive conflict within all the activities, resulting in the bazaar shutting down.

Theoretically, the methods of nonviolent conflict are simple to understand. In my post yesterday I listed 198 Nonviolent Methods for systemic change. You may have been overwhelmed with the quantity of actions available to a movement. There are so many ways to confront a tyrannical system! Organizers can also be overwhelmed. The difficult part is to select the right methods, at the right time, and with the right people.

We can use this list to understand a specific movement's approach to change. Khatami's strategy, for example, employs several elements from the list of 198:
  • #71 Consumers' boycott of goods. Khatami is now using the economy to place more pressure on the regime in power by bringing this movement into the realm of shop keepers. We'll see what their reaction is.
  • #121 Refusal of public support of the regime. This is an ongoing element of the Sea of Green movement and will play out in a variety of ways over the coming weeks and months.
  • #137 Refusal to disperse. The protesters have stood their ground and are finding new ways to confront the regime in public, even though the Supreme Leader has forbade them to do so.
  • #166 Mill-in. One of the primary purposes of Khatami's strategy is to continue a public presence. It is not a March (#38), but it is still visual. It spreads out the protesters, and therefore the Basiji (secret police) will also be spread out, lowering the risk for casualties. It also communicates to the government that the protesters are without fear and still going strong.
  • #172 Nonviolent obstruction (generally temporary). This type of protest could bring normal activity and economic transactions to a temporary hault. The act of protest in a location where normal, daily activity takes place will make this movement and its complaints more personal to more Iranians.

So, what are the effects of Khatami's strategic plan?
  1. It spreads out the protesting groups, making is much harder for officials to monitor, identify and target individuals for reprisal.
  2. There should be fewer casualties.
  3. Economic pressure should be felt by the Iranian society (and therefore by the government) via the chaos in the bazaars.
  4. Psychological pressure will be place back on the government.
  5. If successful, the protesters should feel an improvement in morale, which will lead to further struggle in a variety of forms.
Many mainstream media commentators have said that the decreased protester involvement in the last couple of days is due to fear. They are not aware that Khatami and the opposition are beginning to shift gears - something that is always necessary for success.

Some may ask, "How long will this take?" The correct response: "As long as it takes."

As Khatami exhorted, "We shall only think of Victory!"

Monday, June 22, 2009

198 Nonviolent Ways to Bring Down the Iranian Regime

Today, due to the elevated threat of violent force against the protesters, the numbers on the street decreased somewhat.

No one should be fooled, however, by a relative downturn in the demonstrations. The opposition is planning how to confront the Iranian leadership in ways that go beyond demonstrations and public protests.

Yesterday, I shared the large picture of how a tyrannical regime can be brought down by removing the pillars of support for an unjust system.

Today, I'd like to offer a closer look at specific ways those pillars of support can be chipped away. There is an incredible variety of nonviolent actions the Sea of Green opponents can choose from. As Gene Sharp states in Waging Nonviolent Struggle, "The technique of nonviolent action consists of numerous specific "methods," or forms of action. Such methods are the weapons of nonviolent struggle. They are used to conduct the conflict by psychological, social, economic, or political pressure." (49)

I offer below a list of 198 specific nonviolent actions, most of which go beyond protests and demonstrations, that the people of Iran could implement. Not all actions fit every context, so I encourage you to read through the list below to see which ones you think might be applied to the ongoing struggle in Iran. I also encourage you to visit Gene Sharp's website at the Albert Einstein Institution, which contains many materials that are free and downloadable.

Let me know what you think of this list. Which of the 198 would be most applicable to Iran?


(from Gene Sharp, The Methods of Nonviolent Action, Boston 1973 and posted at: Peace Magazine)



1. Public speeches
2. Letters of opposition or support
3. Declarations by organizations and institutions
4. Signed public declarations
5. Declarations of indictment and intention
6. Group or mass petitions


7. Slogans, caricatures, and symbols
8. Banners, posters, and displayed communications
9. Leaflets, pamphlets, and books
10. Newspapers and journals
11. Records, radio, and television
12. Skywriting and earthwriting


13. Deputations
14. Mock awards
15. Group lobbying
16. Picketing
17. Mock elections


18. Displays of flags and symbolic colours
19. Wearing of symbols
20. Prayer and worship
21. Delivering symbolic objects
22. Protest disrobings
23. Destruction of own property
24. Symbolic lights
25. Displays of portraits
26. Paint as protest
27. New signs and names
28. Symbolic sounds
29. Symbolic reclamations
30. Rude gestures


31. "Haunting" officials
32. Taunting officials
33. Fraternization
34. Vigils


35. Humourous skits and pranks
36. Performances of plays and music
37. Singing


38. Marches
39. Parades
40. Religious processions
41. Pilgrimages
42. Motorcades


43. Political mourning
44. Mock funerals
45. Demonstrative funerals
46. Homage at burial places


47. Assemblies of protest or support
48. Protest meetings
49. Camouflaged meetings of protest
50. Teach-ins


51. Walk-outs
52. Silence
53. Renouncing honours
54. Turning one's back



55. Social boycott
56. Selective social boycott
57. Lysistratic nonaction
58. Excommunication
59. Interdict


60. Suspension of social and sports activities
61. Boycott of social affairs
62. Student strike
63. Social disobedience
64. Withdrawal from social institutions


65. Stay-at-home
66. Total personal noncooperation
67. "Flight" of workers
68. Sanctuary
69. Collective disappearance
70. Protest emigration (hijrat)



71. Consumers' boycott
72. Nonconsumption of boycotted goods
73. Policy of austerity
74. Rent withholding
75. Refusal to rent
76. National consumers' boycott
77. International consumers' boycott


78. Workers' boycott
79. Producers' boycott


80. Suppliers' and handlers' boycott


81. Traders' boycott
82. Refusal to let or sell property
83. Lockout
84. Refusal of industrial assistance
85. Merchants' "general strike"


86. Withdrawal of bank deposits
87. Refusal to pay fees, dues, and assessments
88. Refusal to pay debts or interest
89. Severance of funds and credit
90. Revenue refusal
91. Refusal of a government's money


92. Domestic embargo
93. Blacklisting of traders
94. International sellers' embargo
95. International buyers' embargo
96. International trade embargo



97. Protest strike
98. Quickie walkout (lightning strike)


99. Peasant strike
100. Farm workers' strike


101. Refusal of impressed labour
102. Prisoners' strike
103. Craft strike
104. Professional strike


105. Establishment strike
106. Industry strike
107. Sympathy strike


108. Detailed strike
109. Bumper strike
110. Slowdown strike
111. Working-to-rule strike
112. Reporting "sick" (sick-in)
113. Strike by resignation
114. Limited strike
115. Selective strike


116. Generalised strike
117. General strike


118. Hartal
119. Economic shutdown



120. Withholding or withdrawal of allegiance
121. Refusal of public support
122. Literature and speeches advocating resistance


123. Boycott of legislative bodies
124. Boycott of elections
125. Boycott of government employment and positions
126. Boycott of government departments, agencies, and other bodies
127. Withdrawal from governmental educational institutions
128. Boycott of government-supported institutions
129. Refusal of assistance to enforcement agents
130. Removal of own signs and placemarks
131. Refusal to accept appointed officials
132. Refusal to dissolve existing institutions


133. Reluctant and slow compliance
134. Nonobedience in absence of direct supervision
135. Popular nonobedience
136. Disguised disobedience
137. Refusal of an assemblage or meeting to disperse
138. Sitdown
139. Noncooperation with conscription and deportation
140. Hiding, escape, and false identities
141. Civil disobedience of "illegitimate" laws


142. Selective refusal of assistance by government aides
143. Blocking of lines of command and information
144. Stalling and obstruction
145. General administrative noncooperation
146. Judicial noncooperation
147. Deliberate inefficiency and selective noncooperation by enforcement agents
148. Mutiny


149. Quasi-legal evasions and delays
150. Noncooperation by constituent governmental units


151. Changes in diplomatic and other representation
152. Delay and cancellation of diplomatic events
153. Withholding of diplomatic recognition
154. Severance of diplomatic relations
155. Withdrawal from international organisations
156. Refusal of membership in international bodies
157. Expulsion from international organisations



158. Self-exposure to the elements
159. The fast
160. a) Fast of moral pressure
161. b) Hunger strike
162. c) Satyagrahic fast
163. Reverse trial
164. Nonviolent harassment


162. Sit-in
163. Stand-in
164. Ride-in
165. Wade-in
166. Mill-in
167. Pray-in
168. Nonviolent raids
169. Nonviolent air raids
170. Nonviolent invasion
171. Nonviolent interjection
172. Nonviolent obstruction
173. Nonviolent occupation


174. Establishing new social patterns
175. Overloading of facilities
176. Stall-in
177. Speak-in
178. Guerrilla theatre
179. Alternative social institutions
180. Alternative communication system


181. Reverse strike
182. Stay-in strike
183. Nonviolent land seizure
184. Defiance of blockades
185. Politically motivated counterfeiting
186. Preclusive purchasing
187. Seizure of assets
188. Dumping
189. Selective patronage
190. Alternative markets
191. Alternative transportation systems
192. Alternative economic institutions


193. Overloading of administrative systems
194. Disclosing identities of secret agents
195. Seeking imprisonment
196. Civil disobedience of "neutral" laws
197. Work-on without collaboration
198. Dual sovereignty and parallel government

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Perfect Storm: How to Sink the Iranian Regime

Barack Obama's speech in Egypt set the tone for change in the Middle East. His words and admonitions for the Iranian leadership since its recent election have also provided a guarded, yet serious, warning for Iranian oppressors.

Although Obama and the rest of the world may inject their perspectives and thinly veiled threats for change to occur in Iran, it is important to understand that the mission for change is the Iranian people's responsibility. This will require much struggle, suffering and even death. It will require, as well, much organization and strategy, elements we do not read about very much.

Neda Soltan is a young woman killed by security forces, and hers has become the face of the movement. Her name in Farsi means "voice" or "calling." Indeed, her face as she lay dying has become the "voice" of this movement. Through her death, she has become a martyr for freedom. It is not a cosmic coincidence that Neda is a woman and young. Her face, her voice, and her person represent the future that Iranians are struggling for.

Neda's face is an extremely powerful symbol, but what is actually sought by the demonstrators in Iran, this Sea of Green? There are three possible levels of change that may be sought, and all these forms of change have been shared by various analysts of the Iranian situation:
  • Policy - more openness domestically and internationally
  • Leadership - Remove Ahmadinejad or, even, Khamenei from power
  • Systemic - Dismantle the Islamic republic and replace with a modern democracy
I believe that the first two are more probable than the final option. If the protests continue to grow and swell beyond the supporters of Moussavi and the demand for a repeat of the election, greater change may occur. If this is to take place, the strategic approach of the opposition must be carefully structured using nonviolent tactics. If they were to turn to violent approaches on a mass level, they would be crushed and thirty years from now they would be remembered as brave, but ineffectual, souls.

If the Sea of Green truly wishes to bring down the current, unjust system, there are various nonviolent strategies that can be applied. What needs to be developed is a "Perfect Storm" of nonviolent strategies and actions to sink the Iranian regime.

First, the organization and tactics of the movement must be developed in a "horizontal" fashion. In other words, many people at various levels must be "in the know" regarding how to organize and confront the Iranian power structure, which will attempt to destroy the movement's leadership.

If there exists only one leader or a few, the powers that be will have no trouble "cut off the head of the 'serpent.'" Already the government is arresting journalists and bloggers to try to undermine the negative communications coming out of the country. They have also already arrested or threatened to arrest primary leaders, such as candidate Mir Hossein Moussavi and Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani's daughter.

On the other hand, if plans, tactics and training have taken place among various levels of the movement (the 'serpent'), it will have a greater chance of survival. And, the movement's simply surviving will frustrate the government leadership, which will ultimately make tactical mistakes.

So, how can the Iranian system fall or, at least, be pushed to make profound changes?

According to Gene Sharp in Waging Nonviolent Struggle, the "pillars of support" for the unjust system must be brought down. First, how are they upheld and continued? Through the obedience and consent of the people. Once the people refuse to consent to the power of the tyrant and unjust system, eventually they must fall.

What are the "pillars of support" for the Iranian system? There are four that typically uphold an unjust system:
  1. Politics
  2. Communication
  3. Military/Police
  4. Economy/Finance/Commerce
Picture four individuals holding up a mattress on the four corners. These folks represent the pillars of support for the mattress (the unjust system). As these pillars are brought down one at a time, the balancing act of holding up the mattress (maintaining the system) moves from difficult to precarious to impossible. This is what happens when the public consent of these pillars is removed in reality. The tumbling of the pillars in quick order can become a perfect storm for the unjust government. The question is: Will such a perfect storm occur in the case of Iran?

So, where has the Iranian opposition fared regarding these pillars of support? It has basically brought the government into question in the political realm. The political support has not yet been brought down, but it is certainly toppling.

The opponents have taken control regarding the communication of events on an international level. It is not clear yet how that has played out within Iran itself, however. This is something that we may learn at a later date, after the fact.

Thus far, militarily, it appears the movement has the advantage at this point. Yes, there have been people killed, but the numbers are far fewer than those that could have been suffered if there had been a full-fledged military reprisal. So, why hasn't this occurred? There are reports of division within the military, to such an extent that some generals have refused to retaliate against the protesters.

This is a huge reality if it is so! If the military continues to refuse to attack the demonstrators, the current system has lost tremendous credibility within Iran and allows for the relatively smooth continuation of the movement for change.

Finally, any economic impact has yet to be developed and realized. Moussavi has reportedly called for a general strike if he were to be arrested, but neither has yet occurred. What should we look for in this area of finances? Oil and shopkeepers. Oil is Iran's large moneymaker. If there were to be a strike in the oil industry, it could cripple the government.

In addition, if everyday shopkeepers were to support a general strike, the economic impact would be large, but the demographic impact would be even greater on the government and its survival. Khameini and the other supreme leaders would then understand that they have lost the middle, fairly conservative, support that sustains them.

Iranians have shown enormous courage and a willingness to die for their cause of freedom. At this point, however, the pillars of support for the unjust regime have only been shaken, but not toppled. There is much more work to do. The journey is still long and arduous for the opponents.

Do I hope that they come tumbling down? Yes! But I also hope that strategies are being enacted to bring them down, as well as to implement a just, democratic system in its place after they have come down. This will require the incredible courage displayed so far, plus enormous creativity to make it happen and to rebuild afterward.

Is there currently a perfect storm brewing in Iran? I believe it's developing. We are currently in the early phase of bringing down the the pillars of injustice. Nonetheless, the pieces are beginning to fall into place.

The storm is certainly forming. May the Iranian Sea of Green remember Neda Soltan and meld her memory with their emotional and spiritual power to continue to move forward. May they also find creative, nonviolent means to pull down the pillars of support to sink the autocratic system and to bring about a just and long lasting democratic society for the future.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

President Obama's Statement on Iran

This is the President's statement on the Iranian situation. It is so important and carefully crafted that I felt it important to re-post it here.

My analysis here.

Statement from the President on Iran

The Iranian government must understand that the world is watching. We mourn each and every innocent life that is lost. We call on the Iranian government to stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people. The universal rights to assembly and free speech must be respected, and the United States stands with all who seek to exercise those rights.

As I said in Cairo, suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. The Iranian people will ultimately judge the actions of their own government. If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect the dignity of its own people and govern through consent, not coercion.

Martin Luther King once said - "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." I believe that. The international community believes that. And right now, we are bearing witness to the Iranian peoples’ belief in that truth, and we will continue to bear witness.


Sea of Green in Iran...and Obama's Response

Due to my medical situation and a variety of complex personal elements, it's been a long time since I've posted a new article. Today, however, I am moved to write about the post-election conflict in Iran.

I am very supportive of the movement for change in Iran. I have particularly been following #iranelection on Twitter, where I have learned of the non-violent demonstrations and the strategies and counter-strategies that have been employed by both the Sea of Green protesters and the leadership.

Here I will share:
  1. Clips of protests today (Sat., 20.6.09) that give a visual sense of the demonstrations
  2. Tactics used by the police/military
  3. Important symbolic tactics employed by the protesters
  4. My perspective on President Obama's stance on the events in Iran
This first clip is from an apartment balcony and shows the general unrest. Embedding has been blocked,but here is the url:

This second clip is from Shiraz University, an indication that the protests are not simply located in Tehran:

Finally, this is the clip that moved me to tears. I warn you that this clip of a young woman dying after being shot in the street is hard to watch:

People have, indeed, given their lives for this freedom movement, this Sea of Green.

The Iranian government has used many strategies to combat their opponents:
  • Although there are reports of some military generals refusing to fire on the protesters, people like the young woman above have been shot and killed - by police, military or Revolutionary Guard.
  • There are also reports that the injured have been forcibly removed from hospitals. Therefore, there are reports that they are now being taken to embassies that have opened their doors to them for medical assistance.
  • Beatings have been routine, with batons and wire. Mir Hossein Mousavi, the opposition leader, was threatened that he would be held responsible for any illegal (i.e., any) protests.
  • Tear gas has been extensively used, including from helicopters. (Some tweeters have reported it as acid or boiling water...)
  • As has also been reported extensively, the mainstream media have been directly told not to report from Iran right now, and they have complied.
  • Attempts have been made at closing down the Internet, but first-hand reporting and videos have leaked out via social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook. In many ways, Twitter has proven its raison d'etre over the past several days by providing opportunities for the whole world to witness this struggle unfold.

How have the opponents confronted the Iranian leadership?

  • Pure numbers. When hundreds of thousands of protesters march, they are impossible to ignore.
  • When they come out in such numbers, these protesters are know as a "Sea of Green." Green is a positive, empowering color in Islam. Some say it was Muhammad's favorite color. These protesters are using their Muslim identities to bring out the Truth, rather than separating themselves from it.
  • "Allahu-Akbar!" God is Great! Has become the chant of the opposition. This moving poem the night of the 19th is filled with Muslim imagery and wording, including the calling of "Allahu-Akbar" from the surrounding rooftops:
  • Many protesters have covered their heads with the Qur'an, a spiritual protection for themselves, as well as a strategic protection, since attackers would be less will to hit their own holy book.
  • Chants from the protesters have moved into another, surprising realm. They are now shouting: "Death to Khameini" - a reference to the Supreme Leader of Iran. This indicates that the goal is no longer simply voting justice, but also the toppling of the regime in power.
  • Opposition leader Moussavi has stated that he is ready for martyrdom. He has stated that he is willing to go to jail or die for this cause. He has called for a general strike (an extremely important event if it were to take place) if he is arrested.
President Obama has appropriately taken a measured approach to the Iranian conflict thus far. He has voiced his concern for violent repression and stated, "The Iranian government must understand that the world is watching. We mourn each and every innocent life that is lost. We call on the Iranian government to stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people. The universal rights to assembly and free speech must be respected, and the United States stands with all who seek to exercise those rights." (Entire text may be found here.)

John McCain and others on the political right can make all the pronouncements they want against the Iranian government, but they are not our head of state. I am sure that once things have settled down and Iranian society has focused itself once again, Obama will share a more in-depth perspective of where we, as a nation, stand regarding Iran. At this time, it would be irresponsible for him to do more.

Will this Sea of Green bring about central changes in Iran? Many questions need to asked: Who are their leaders? (In many ways, it's a positive for the opponents that there is probably not just one leader.) Will there be the strength to continue over many more days or weeks? Will this movement expand - such as to a general strike? Will the military crack down even more sharply? (Or, are there as reported some generals who have refused to follow orders?) Will Supreme Leader Khamenei shift and offer a concession?

The following is attributed to Mahatma Gandhi about movements for change:

"First, they ignore us.
Then, they mock us.
Then, they fight us.
Finally, we win."

Time will tell if Gandhi's paradigm plays itself out in Iran for the Sea of Green.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Obama: The Good, The Bad, The Grotesque

Barack Obama has now been in office 100 days, plus about a month. Everyone was impressed with all that he accomplished in those first few months. I've noticed that the Obama administration is facing a flurry of legislative battles, Republican challenges and news cycles that spin quickly until the next day dawns and they all go at it again.

In the past month, Obama has maintained his 65% approval rating, despite being faced with challenges from both his opponents and his friends, sometimes inadvertently and sometimes direct and in your face.

I will outline those issues Obama has faced that have had everything from a positive impact on his legacy to those that could drag it down.

The Good:
  • Auto mpg: Seeds planted and pressure applied earlier have given Obama the wherewithal to push for the auto industry to produce cars that get 39 miles per gallon by 2016. This was a helluva coup for the president.
  • Healthcare Reform: The medical industry got behind the need for change last week. After past efforts, they decided they'd prefer to be in the room while decisions are made.
  • Credit card legislation: Although this legislation tacked on an addendum that allows gun possession in a national parks, millions of Americans will be protected while they hold their credit cards due to this bill, which Obama should sign before the weekend.
  • Timing: Not only did our president display incredible timing during his comedy routine at the annual reporters dinner, he is losing no time moving through the many changes he promised during his campaign.
The Bad:
  • Mexico border: Remember when this hit the news and some Republicans were pushing for a military presence along the border? Obama handled it coolly, and somehow it's lost its impact since the flu broke out.
  • Swine flu: This is serious and was raised to a high level of importance. Things have calmed down, but could peak again next fall. Nonetheless, the Obama government, again, demonstrated the scientific approach lacking in the past.
  • Israel/Palestine: Obama and Benyamin Netanyahu met this week. I would be amazed if Barack and Hillary can work out something lasting, especially considering Netanyahu's right wing coalition. Unfortunately, this means a lot more ugliness on both sides of the wall. Now, if for some ungodly reason, Iran were to send a rocket into Israel, all bets are off. This becomes an area of grave, grave concern, since the next large conflagration could then occur throughout the Middle East.
The Ugly:
  • Iraq: Violence is up. There is the agreed upon date for us to get completely out, but we'll be leaving Iraqis to fend for themselves. My projection is that the democracy we imposed upon them will disintegrate and civil war will be a possibility. The end result will be a federation or a religious state, like Iran.
  • Iran: Iran just sent up a long-range missile, which has raised lots of eye-brows, as well as hairs on many people's arms. I pray the talks Obama has begun will grow into open negotiations that will bear fruit. Such a process will be easier if Mahmoud Ahmadinejad loses, and a new leader is elected into power in the middle of June.
The Really Ugly:
  • Guantanamo: Is Obama going to close it? Probably, but it won't be done this year. Personally, I believe there was a sort of collusion between Rahm Emmanuel and the Democratic Caucus, which tacitly allowed the legislators to say "Not in my backyard" and deny Obama the $80 million to close it down. First, it's true a plan has not been developed to shut it down. Second, more time is needed than the year initially anticipated. It sucks, but the Obama timing factor was off on this one. Gitmo will close, though. I'm sure of it.
  • Military tribunals: Will there be any transparency here? How will it play out? I'm not a lawyer and don't get all the legal intricacies, but these military trials must be fair, or else there could be more negative impact in the Muslim world.
  • Torture Photos: Obama was right on this one, but the courts may overturn his decision not to release more disgusting photos to the public.
  • Torture: It's like a cancer spreading. First, the question: Did they torture? Well, as long as the MSM use enhanced interrogation techniques, it'll never end up what it truly was: t-o-r-t-u-r-e. Then, who did it? CIA employees were exonerated. The lawyers who deemed the torture not torture were exonerated. Dick Cheney finally admitted that it was "waterboarding" that was used, and that Bush was aware of it. Then, the Republicans try to spin torture away from "Who did it?" to "Who knew?" Nancy Pelosi has handed them a gift on a platter with her hemming and hawing. Somehow, this issue must be dealt with by an independent group, who should publish a report like the 9/11 Commission. Trying the creators, approvers, and instigators is no longer an option, but this is just dragging on, with only the perpetrators winning out.
All of these negatives remain, festering from the Bush administration, and Dick Cheney's doing all he can to keep the putrid mess he left behind slopping up on Obama. Unfortunately, some it's beginning to stick.

The Outright Grotesque:
  • Economy: Are we seeing just a blip of improvement that heads south again? When will unemployment turn around? This is, again, a problem Obama inherited from Bush. But, after the first 100 days, it's now Obama's problem. If he can't turn it around, he's toast.
  • Af-Pak: No end game in sight. This is a quagmire and Bob Gates' change of the military leadership last week was an indication of just that. What is the mission? I'm not certain they're certain.
President Barack Obama's first 100 days may have seemed like a whirlwind of activity. From here on out, it's all going to get faster and more chaotic. I know that he can take on any challenge. I'll do my best to keep up.