The protests and demonstrations in Iran
, led by reformists and ongoing since the fraud-ridden 2009 Presidential election
are often called the "green revolution" for the official color of
movement leader Mir Hossein Mousavi's presidential campaign. But is it
a real revolution? Or just dissent from a small and isolated sub-set of
the population? Iran experts Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett argued the
latter in a Wednesday op-ed in the New York Times, sparking wide and
heated debate over the nature of green movement. Should the U.S. engage
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei or
be rooting for their ouster?
- Iran's Non-Revolution Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett write,
"The Islamic Republic of Iran is not about to implode. Nevertheless,
misguided idea that it may do so is becoming enshrined as conventional
wisdom in Washington." They warn, "The focus in the West on the
antigovernment demonstrations has blinded
many to an inconvenient but inescapable truth: the Iranians who used
Ashura to make a political protest do not represent anything close to a
majority." They cite data to support their argument that the revolution
is overblown in the U.S. and conclude that the U.S. should drop wishful
thinking about regime change and work on engaging the current Iranian
leadership, which they insist is going nowhere. Private intelligence
company STRATFOR concurs with the Leveretts.
- Engage Khamenei, But Don't Dismiss Revolution Iran expert Juan Cole agrees with the Leveretts that we should engage Iran, but not their "dismissive attitude" towards the green revolution. "I think
it is big, nation-wide, multi-class and significant. And I fear that
they have fallen for the regime's phony counter-demonstration on Dec.
30 as a sign of wide and deep support for the regime. I don't deny it
has its supporters. But I think the ground is shifting against Khamenei
and Ahmadinejad, which helps explain why they are becoming more and
Why Revolution Is Possible The Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan writes,
"I believe that a democratic revolution in Iran is both possible and
would be the single most transformative event in global politics since
the end of the Cold War. Especially for the US. I sure don't believe we
should take it for granted; but I also see what is in front of us." He
cites "a regime divided against itself, reliant on raw violence - and
else - to stay in control, a regime that has failed to crush massive
resistance to a stolen election, and has, if anything, discredited
itself further by over-reaction. State violence will have to keep
increasing in intensity as state legitimacy keeps eroding. That's not a
positive pattern for those in power."
For Iran's Mood, Look Outside Tehran The Atlantic's Graeme Wood explores them. "I am on recordas
a member of the cold-water bucket brigade with respect to this
revolt's chance of being upgraded, like a tropical depression brewing
into a hurricane, to a full-blown revolution. My trip to Iran earlier
this year showed a clerical regime with a powerful base of conservative
Iranians, and a small if fervent minority of reformists. Last weekend's
protests surprised me, though, in their intensity and in their
happening at all." Wood suggests "the atmosphere, such as it is
measureable, outside Tehran" would speak to the debate. He recounts
visiting several conservative and liberal towns in Iran and what he
learned from the trips.
A Movement, Not A Revolution Foreign Policy's Hooman Majd cautions that "predicting
the imminent demise of the Islamic theocracy is unrealistic." Majd writes, "[I]f we consider Iran's
pro-democracy "green movement" not as a revolution but as a civil
rights movement -- as the leaders of the movement do -- then a "win"
must be measured over time. The movement's aim is not for a sudden and complete
overthrow of Iran's political system."
- Why U.S. Struggles To Face The Truth The American Conservative's Daniel Larison explains. "By holding out the illusion of substantial political change in Iran,
hawks can push for delaying meaningful negotiations and can gain
support for destructive sanctions measures," he writes. "After all, if Western policymakers start banking on domestic political
unrest to undermine the Iranian government in a major way, they will
pursue policies that would be very different than if they assume that
the current Iranian government is not changing and not going anywhere."
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