The Magazine

We Have Met the Enemy . . .

And it is Iran.

Oct 26, 2009, Vol. 15, No. 06 • By MICHAEL LEDEEN
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Second, the anti-regime demonstrations on "Quds Day" in late September were so massive and so disciplined that the regime's security forces were unable to respond with their usual mayhem. Indeed, they did not fire a single shot against the demonstrators in Tehran. As an Iranian friend put it, "Now they know the way it is." In recent demonstrations on university campuses around the country, security forces stayed away.

Nothing would so greatly help us in the big war--most definitely including Afghanistan--as the fall of the regime in Tehran, which is now a distinct possibility. The opposition leaders, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, have promised to cut off Iranian support for terrorism and open all the nuclear facilities to international inspection, but our leaders don't want to have anything to do with them. Indeed, in an obvious appeasement message to the tyrants, a U.S. government grant was recently terminated to the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center in New Haven. To date, not a single Western government has made contact with the leaders of the opposition, let alone provided help.

Most of the needed support is political: calls by top American officials for the release of political prisoners, equal rights for women (for which Mousavi's wife has been a charismatic advocate), and freedom of speech, press, and assembly. The president could earn his Nobel Peace Prize by condemning the regime's slaughter of its own people, by instructing the timorous broadcasters at VOA's Farsi Service to report more vigorously on Iranian actions, by helping the independent Iranian-American and European radio and TV stations beat the regime's jamming, and by supporting software to evade the mullahs' "filtering" of the Internet and cellular phone calls. Finally, Obama could suggest to his friends in the labor movement that it is long past time to build a strike fund for Iranian workers.
None of this is very hard, and it's a lot easier than trying to talk the mullahs out of their nukes or facing a nuclear Iran when we fail. It's strategically sound and morally right. And it will change the world for the better.

<π><ι>Michael Ledeen is Freedom Scholar at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the author of Accomplice to Evil: Iran and the War Against the West, published this week by St. Martin's Press.