John says, inter alia, “This is a time of testing for the idea that the mullahcracy can be shaken to its foundations by an aggrieved populace. If it can’t, then the regime will prove itself stronger than some of its most heated critics say it is, and the world will have to adjust accordingly.”
I suppose this means that we should abandon the Iranian dissidents — who seem to constitute a majority of the “electorate” — if the current wave of demonstrations fails to overthrow the mullahs. I don’t think much of that as a policy. John ought to try that general theory out on, say, Bukovsky and Sharansky. He’d get some strong words on the subject of why America should always support freedom-fighting dissidents. To be sure, there were gaggles of deep thinkers back in the eighties, and long before, who lectured some of the Kremlin’s “most heated critics” on the folly of supporting Soviet dissidents.
Too many people, all these years, have dismissed the very idea that we should support Iranian dissidents, and no American president has seen fit to try it. It’s impossible to know what would have happened if we had at least expressed public support for them in, say, 2003 (when Secretary of State Powell shamefully declared that the United States did not wish to get involved in “an Iranian family squabble”) or on other occasions. Most successful revolutions in modern times have had external support. The Iranians should have had ours. They still should, whatever the outcome of the insurrections in the streets of every major Iranian city tonight.