The recent events in Iran have prompted some people to call for American intervention or pressure on Iran. Bret Stephens
likens Iran to Hungary, which revolted against the USSR in 1956 and calls for US intervention, presumably in favor of Mr Mir Hossein Mousavi and his supporters. Abe Foxman
of the ADL said he had "not heard America embrace Mir Hossein Mousavi." Malcom Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said, "When do the young people feel they've been abandoned" by the West?"
As a matter of practical interest, I do hope we never hear or see America embracing Hossein Mousavi, a follower of the Ayatollah Khomeini, a protege of the Ayatollah Rafsanjani and not one to embrace either the Great Satan America or the Little Satan Israel. Moreover, unlike the Hungarians of Bret Stephens' analogy, nobody in Iran has asked for American help. So what these people are proposing is to walk a little old lady across the street when the lady doesn't want to cross the street, and is in any case a rather vicious sort.
As a matter of further practical interest, it should be underlined that the Iranian regime derives its "legitimacy" from the barrels of a lot of guns, but it wins a great deal of internal and external support by positioning itself as the champion of "resistance" against the Americans and the "Zionists." Any attempt by the West, especially by Jews, to interfere in the Iranian 'election' farce will only bolster the prestige of Ahmadinejad, and an embrace of Mousavi by American officials would be his certain death warrant.
Mousavi did not indicate that he would change Iranian foreign policy or the nuclear program in any way. He criticized Ahmadinejad's belligerent attitude and Holocaust denial. So he will build a bomb while smiling rather than ranting. The Iranian nuclear program was begun when Mousavi was Prime Minister and continued when the reformist Khatami was President. The change of regimes did not appear to affect actual Iranian foreign policy actions or military programs in any way. Ahmadinejad did not initiate the support for the Hezbollah
or the Hamas
. Nor would Mousavi's election provide for more than cosmetic changes at most in Iranian repression of women, religious minorities and homosexuals. Mousavi did not propose to remove the Guardian Council or limit its powers, to abandon the IRGC or the Basij
who are the pillars of radical Islamist subversion and of the reactionary regime of the Mullahs. Those who have seen the demonstrations of Mousavi supporters know that the color of his party is Islamic green, and not the Red Blue and White of the United States. He is not a friend. Evidently
, the protests are part of a power struggle within the regime between the Ayatollah Khameinei and the Ayatollah Rafsanjani. They probably have less to do with issues of democracy than with issues of power, money and patronage. A poll indicated that outside of cities, and particularly Tehran, Mousavi did not enjoy much support. The results may be fraudulent, but the fact is that riots seem to be limited primarily to Tehran.
As a matter of formal correctness, the internal affairs of other sovereign states are not the business of any other states. Since the Treaty of Westphalia, that has been a fundamental principle of the world order of states. The USSR invasion of Hungary was an entirely different matter, since an ostensibly sovereign country was invaded by another country, and Mr Imre Nagy, who could be considered the legally elected head of government, called for UN and US intervention. The United States has no formal standing in the internal affairs of Iran, and neither does any other country.
One point that seems to have escaped Bret Stephens and the Wall Street Journal is that Imre Nagy was not an apostle of free enterprise. He was a Marxist and remained a Marxist, and the extent of his support for the West was really uncertain. This may have been one reason that John Foster Duller and Dwight Eisenhower were not anxious to intervene on his behalf and on behalf of his cause.
I do not necessarily agree with the idea that Iranians are masters of their fate
. Those who would want to overthrow the regime face a powerful police apparatus as well as the IRGC and Basij, both of which are thoroughly loyal to Ahmadinejad. The opposition, to the extent that it is organized as the supporters of Mousavi, are not opposed to the principles of the regime, only to the rule of Ahmadinejad. If there is a genuine opposition to the regime itself, one that wants to institute real democracy, it is apparently politically powerless inside Iran and has no voice. There is nobody to support. That is another difference from Hungary in 1956. It is not a nice reality, but understanding reality is preferable to wishful thinking.
It is unlikely too, that the election will make any difference, or should make any difference, in US policy regarding dialogue with Iran (compare with Barry Rubin's discussion
). The US policy that pursues dialogue with iran is due to one of two types of considerations. Either it is based entirely on wishful thinking or unrealistic notions about the Iranian regime or else it is intended to demonstrate that Iran is not responsive to dialogue and requires sterner measures. In either case, changes in the Iranian government or lack of democracy are not relevant.Ami Isseroff
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Replies: 1 Comment
There is no real democratic dissident movement in Iran. If one existed, of course the US and the West would be morally bound to lend its support. Iran's revolution is still young and the regime's leaders have confidence they are on the right side of history and they will win. None of the protests in Tehran or the power struggles within the Khomeinist regime will change it. What needs to be done is to stop Iran's nuclear drive and what is happening in Iran now will not alter it in any way. For Israel, a decision on when to act is not a question of if but when and the fraudulent re-election of Ahmedinejad if anything, has brought Israel's day of reckoning closer.
NormanF, Wednesday, June 17th
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