The Election Was a Sham — I Hope the Revolt is Not

Charles Krauthammer today, taking aim at Obama’s tepid expression of “deep concern about the election”:

Moreover, this incipient revolution is no longer about the election. Obama totally misses the point. The election allowed the political space and provided the spark for the eruption of anti-regime fervor that has been simmering for years and awaiting its moment. But people aren’t dying in the street because they want a recount of hanging chads in suburban Isfahan. They want to bring down the tyrannical, misogynist, corrupt theocracy that has imposed itself with the very baton-wielding goons that today attack the demonstrators.

This started out about election fraud. But like all revolutions, it has far outgrown its origins. What’s at stake now is the very legitimacy of this regime — and the future of the entire Middle East.

A quibble: I think — I hope — that what’s at stake is the future of the regime.  I don’t think it has ever had any legitimacy.

Time to pick a side, Mr. President.  I don’t buy the idea that the Iranian protesters would somehow be undermined if Obama expresses support for democracy.  It may once have made pragmatic sense to try to make nice with the theocracy, but only because the regime’s power was unquestioned.  Now there’s an opposing force within the country.

Michael Ledeen, from yesterday:

I think that many pundits insist on thinking about the Iran-that-was-five-days-ago, instead of the bubbling cauldron that it is today.  The same mistake is repeated when people say that Mousavi, after all, is “one of them,” a member of the founding generation of the Islamic Republic, and so you can’t expect real change from him.  The president made that mistake when he said that he didn’t expect any real difference in Iran’s behavior, no matter how this drama plays out.

I think that is wrong;  at this point, Mousavi either brings down the Islamic Republic or he hangs. If he wins, and the Islamic Republic comes down, we may well see the whole world change, from an end of the theocratic fascist system, to a cutoff of money, arms, technology, training camps and intelligence to the world’s leading terrorist organizations, and yes, even to a termination of the nuclear weapons program.

I think that, whatever or whoever Mir Hossein Mousavi was five days ago, he is now the leader of a mass movement that demands the creation of a free Iran that will rejoin the Western world. And yes, the wheel could turn again, this revolution could one day be betrayed, all kinds of surprises no doubt await the Iranian people.  Yes, but.  But today, there is a dramatic chance of a very good thing happening in Iran, and thus in the Middle East, and therefore in the whole world.

Update — Rich Lowry today:

Obama says he wants to avoid stoking a nationalist backlash. A legitimate, but overblown, concern. Iranians surely can understand the difference between the U.S. sending CIA operatives into the country to help stage an anti-democratic coup — as Obama constantly reminds the world we did in the 1950s — and speaking up against repression. Without undue “meddling,” Obama could note that governments in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan honor election results, and exhort Iran to lead the democratic wave rather than resist it.

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