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What the Green Movement Needs

The leader of the free world.

12:50 PM, Jun 15, 2010 • By JOHN NOONAN
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Reuel Marc Gerecht, a former case officer with the CIA's clandestine service, lays out a compelling case for supporting Iran's Green Movement:

Ayatollah Khamenei is far more likely to compromise on nuclear weapons if he feels he’s about to be undone by the Green Movement. Common sense — let alone a strategic and historical grasp of what is unfolding in Iran — ought to incline President Obama to back the movement’s repeatedly made request of Washington: communications support.

More specifically, the opposition needs access to satellite-fed Internet connections across the country. Unlike landline connections, satellite-dish communications are difficult for the government to shut down. Just monitoring them would be a technical nightmare for the regime. The opposition needs more access to the wide array of satellites that are accessible from Iran — including Arabsat, which was founded by the Arab League in 1976, and France’s Eutelsat.

THE democracy movement also needs a large supply of digital-video broadcasting cards, which function much like prepaid telephone cards and allow downloading and uploading of digital content from satellites. The Green Movement’s technology experts have done back-of-the-envelope calculations: just $50 million per year could open the entire country to the Internet. Millions less would still allow the diverse range of pro-democracy groups to communicate with each other and more effectively counter the regime’s security forces. Compared to what the United States peacefully did to help anti-Communists during the cold war, such aid would be a pittance, financially and operationally.

The idea here isn't necessarily to create a violent, anti-government insurrection within the Iranian regime; rather, the hope is to fuel the fires of revolution by facilitating messaging and communications. Capsizing the Mullahs can be done peacefully, but it won't work without significant assistance from the West. That means that democratic nations should provide the technical kit necessary to assist the more isolated Green cells throughout the country, which would make tangible gains in Iran's rural areas -- where the regime draws much of its political backing. As Gerecht notes, supporting dissidents along technical lines would be relatively cheap, effective, and wholly in sync with America's tradition of bolstering human rights and aspiring democracies throughout the world. 

Most importantly, President Obama must start behaving like the leader of the free world, and stand shoulder to shoulder with Iranian dissidents. That means publicly recognizing their struggle, the nobility of their objectives, and the moral corruption and bankruptcy of the vicious Iranian regime. 

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