The Current Discussion: Are we witnessing a pro-regime coup in Iran? What should the world do in response? How will the election aftermath affect Iran's projection of power into the Middle East?
We are seeing the end of the mullah-ocracy in Iran -- the best outcome for both Iran and the world. While the West is (perhaps understandably) focused on the regime's nuclear buildup and support for terrorism, the ultimate source of Iran's problem is the nature of the regime itself, not its particular ambitions and tactics. If this regime falls, the Iranian people will gain their freedom, the world will be a much safer place, the chances for Mideast peace will increase enormously -- and all at the same time.
Attempts to address the nuclear and terror issues while leaving the regime in place are less effective and more risky. The North Korean experience shows the danger of being fooled into a deal that is quickly violated and circumvented. Similarly, a military strike might prove a temporary setback to the regime's nuclear program while triggering an escalation in Iranian aggression.
It's a shame that helping the Iranian people free themselves has been, at least until now, widely dismissed as unrealistic or even a quasi-colonialist imposition. But there is a huge difference between imposing democracy and helping people obtain their own freedom. Free nations have at least as great an obligation to do the latter as they do to avoid doing the former. Where would Americans be without French assistance in the War of Independence? Where would South Africans be without decades of international solidarity with the struggle against the apartheid regime? Would a whole host of nations be free today if the West had not stood for freedom and human rights against the Soviet Union?
Now is another such pivotal moment. Free nations should do what they did in 2004 to support the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine: refuse to recognize stolen elections and cut off all relations with the regime. The fact that Mousavi's views were once quite similar to the regime he now opposes is beside the point. This just means that he might be a transitional figure -- like Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin were for the Soviet breakup -- on the road toward Iranian freedom.
As with any revolution, it all boils down to a simple question: which side are you on? The choice between the people and the mullahs should be an easy one for President Barack Obama; he should leave no doubt that he supports Iran's Green Revolution as a step toward fulfilling the will of the Iranian people.
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