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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Don't expect Iranian regime change to make the country more peaceful

One of the Iranian bloggers I follow tweeted this story from the London Daily Telegraph, which ought to give pause to anyone who still believes that things would improve in Iran if only Mousavi were President rather than Ahmadinejad.
Mr Mousavi, the defeated candidate in last June's presidential election, served as Iran's prime minister when Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the regime's spiritual leader, issued a fatwa that sentenced thousands of political prisoners to death without trial, according to the report by one of Britain's leading human rights lawyers.

Mr Mousavi is one of several prominent Iranian politicians who are accused of implementing the order. According to a detailed report published by Geoffrey Robertson QC, who specialises in human rights law, the prisoners were executed for refusing to recant their political and religious beliefs.

"They were hung from cranes, four at a time, or in groups of six from ropes hanging from the stage of the prison assembly hall," the report states. "Their bodies were doused with disinfectant, packed in refrigerated trucks, and buried by night in mass graves."


He is now calling on the UN Security Council to set up a special court to try those responsible "for one of the worst single human rights atrocities since the Second World War".
Then again, if Bret Stephens is right, what Mousavi did is irrelevant to Iran's future: The 'green revolution' is dead.
Suppose that in the days following last year's fraudulent election in Iran, the U.S. and its Western allies had warned Tehran's leaders that their repression at home would be met, swiftly and severely, with consequences abroad. For every Neda Soltan shot dead in the street, an Iranian diplomat posted abroad would be expelled. For every foreigner put on trial in Iran, a Western firm doing business in the country would close its doors. For every opposition activist hanged, deliveries of imported gasoline would be curtailed.

And for every call to wipe Israel off the map, the U.S. would supply the Jewish state with 100 bunker-busters suitable for use against Iran's nuclear facilities.

Had any of that happened, it's just possible that Iran's leaders might have hesitated before moving ahead with their bloody crackdown and, in hesitating, given Iran's democratic opposition the opening it needed to sustain itself. But it didn't happen. In those critical June days, as the regime wobbled, the Obama administration opted to ease the regime's fears instead of multiplying them. And instead of creating leverage for himself, the president conceded it preemptively in hopes of currying favor for a nuclear deal.

A year on, we are living with the consequences of his failure.


Worst of all, the Green movement is, if not extinguished completely, little more than a flickering ember. The three million Iranians who marched for freedom last June may have to wait another generation for a similar opportunity.


Revolutions are also a question of luck and circumstance. In Berlin in 1989, a befuddled East German Politburo member misread his instructions and announced that East Germans were henceforth free to travel to the West. Thus—thus!—did the Wall come down. Two years later in Moscow, some visibly nervous coup plotters took to a stage to announce Gorbachev's early retirement. Their shaky performance allowed Boris Yeltsin to rally Russians against them. It helped that Yeltsin didn't have, in George H.W. Bush, an American president who refused to "meddle" in the country's internal affairs.
Read the whole thing. Regardless of how bad Mousavi is (and I think he's awful), I believe that two and a half years from now, we will all regret the lost opportunity to bring down Ahmadinejad and Khameni.


At 8:58 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

I disagree. Moussavi is an Islamist and there is no such thing as a moderate Islamist. Right now there are NO genuine democrats in Iran. That is why the fraudulent "green movement" is dead. They just stood for a kinder and gentler version of Khomeinism. No such political animal. We may have to wait a long time for real change to happen in Iran - not just for an equally violent and fanatical group of Islamists to replace the equally violent and fanatical Islamists now in power in that country. And I hope the feud between these two groups of Islamists there lasts forever.


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