UNCHARTED WATERS

Spotlight on Iran's Supreme Leader

Is Iran softening its stance on the election results? On the one hand, the Guardian Council—a group of clerics more powerful than the President—is pledging to recount some votes, in what seems like a concession to the popular unrest over the election. But the regime is also expelling foreign press and imprisoning important reform leaders. There's a possibility the Council could call for a run-off vote between Mousavi and Ahmadinejad, but if the Council backtracks on its stance that the election was free and fair, it may irreparably damage Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei's image as the all-powerful religious authority. And Mousavi's popularity rivals Khamenei's, which is another strike against him with the Council. On the political front here in the U.S., George Packer wrote that the events offer a window into the twisted logic of many foreign policy thinkers who wish for an Ahmadinejad victory only as a political expedient. Packer exhorts intellectuals and journalists to "trust their eyes" (even after the deception of the Bush years) and condemn the oppression of the protesters.