Harry Truman as a young man was bookish (I think that a good thing), was not a brawler (if I recall correctly from David McCullough’s book “Truman” had never even been in a fist-fight which is another plus), and wore thick glasses. So when Truman was thrown into the mud and blood in France during WW I, (at one point having lost his glasses) he was the first to admit his surprise at having the qualities of a leader. But there he was in the horror of war leading men, and becoming a part of history.
As I was reading about the affairs of Iran this afternoon, and the future potential actions of Hossein Mousavi, the man who most claim to have won the Iranian election last week, I thought about Harry Truman. Might Mousavi be more than what he campaigned as during the recent election? And might that make him, like Truman, bigger than what he had once thought of himself?
Let me briefly explain.
Everything changed once the clerics in Iran defied the will of the young voters in Iran. It is important to know that 3/4ths of the electorate is young, and as we have witnessed eager for change. While there is a real possibility of massive bloodshed in an attempt to clamp down on the protesters, there is also a chance that the forces of change prevail, and Mousavi has the chance to lead.
At that point a huge demarcation line in Iran will have been crossed. Mousavi, prior to the election, was seen as someone that would be more western-friendly, but still a product steeped in the ‘holiness’ of the Islamic Republic.
But this is the question that then needs to be answered.
If given a freedom to chart a new course, steering away from the conservative moorings of the clerics, and able to lean back on his earlier leftist philosophy from his youth, will he opt for a political solution with the clerics, or a principled stand in defiance of them?
Mousavi may never get a chance to show his leadership if the the Grand Ayatollah clamps down and murders in large enough numbers to end the protests. But if he does get a chance at leadership let us hope Mousavi finds what Harry Truman did. Something inside that moves the pages of history along.