The Campaign Spot

Isn’t There Now a Key Policy Difference Between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi?

Obama, yesterday: “I think it’s important to understand that although there is amazing ferment taking place in Iran, the difference in actual policies between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi in terms of their actual policies may not be as great as advertised.”

I get that, or at least recognize that Mousavi has a long history of statements, positions, alliances and partnerships that are almost as bad as Ahmadinejad’s. Maybe, from some perspectives, worse.

But clearly the Iranians see a difference; in fact, they see a difference big enough, serious enough, and important enough to take to the streets to protest, and now, in fact, risk their lives. Hundreds of thousands — millions? — of Iranians have concluded that the difference between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi is worth dying for.

This exchange between Hugh Hewitt and Michael Ledeen Monday was pretty interesting:

HH: I just had a caller say Mousavi’s got bloodier hands than Ahmadinejad from the beginning of the regime, but it doesn’t matter, he was the vehicle for people’s repressed desire for freedom. Do you agree with that assessment?

ML: Well, we’ve had revolutionaries who turned against the regime in the past. There’s nothing new there.

No one has a crystal ball, but it seems this conflict in Iran ends in one of two ways. Either Mousavi is greatly empowered and Ahmadinejad greatly disempowered, or it ends with Mousavi sidelined, under house arrest, imprisoned, or dead.

This is not to say Mousavi is now a good guy. But right now he wants the thugs to stop shooting students and beating old ladies with clubs, and we want the thugs to stop shooting students and beating old ladies with clubs. And Mousavi’s supporters have now built a movement in which a central principle is that thugs shouldn’t shoot students and beat old ladies with clubs. Shouldn’t we recognize when our interests align?

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