In betwixt and between all the impassioned outcrys both from within and without Iran regarding their most recent “election,” I find that all the intensity and furor suddenly begs the question:
Why all of a sudden do we see such a fervor from the voting public in Iran?
More importantly, why are we HEARING about it, from within what has traditionally been a country with a very tight hold on not only its media, but its people?
My personal opinion is that this is the result of the very kind of “domino theory” that Iran and the other countries of the Middle East feared would result from a successful Iraq.
There was more at stake than meets the eye for Iran, Syria, Jordan, and yes, even our “ally” Saudi Arabia. There was a reason that a large (disproportionately so) number of the “insurgents’ we were capturing or killing in Iraq were from these countries. They saw very clearly the threat posed in the Middle East by a stable, US-friendly democracy. And it wasn’t because of the oil.
As Pres. Bush and his advisors correctly surmised, in the context of the “Long War” perhaps the best way to defeat the violence of militant Islamic extremists — despite the hardships we might face in the relative short term — was to establish a country where freedom, not fear, ruled the day. To show that the “Great Experiment” could even work within the context of Islam.
It’s quite possible that preserving and supporting a stable and (if even loosely) democratic Iraq may very well be the crack in this generation’s “Berlin Wall.” Pres. Reagan, through his fortitude, forsight, and luck, managed to bring about the dissolution of the Communist Bloc countries, bringing down the Berlin Wall and restoring the possibility of freedom to millions of people. The transition has been chaotic, often violent, and certainly messy. And yet, there are countries in what was formerly “Eastern” Europe today who enjoy a level of self-determinance and autonomy of which they may never have even dared to dream 30 years ago.
I do not think it too great a stretch to suggest that we have seen the seeds of just such a transformation sown in the Middle East in the form of a free Iraq. I’m not going to debate HOW we went about it, or whether we SHOULD have gone about it, but rather, I want to deal with what IS, today.
For the first time I can remember, the election is Iran is being contested. Why?! I think it is because, after what the people of Iran saw in Iraq, they actually began to expect that their vote would count. They wanted their election to actually MATTER.
Despite the best efforts of the Iranian regime, the people of Iran watched as their neighbors, their historic enemies, stood in lines for hours to vote, to give voice to their views, their desires, their vision of the future at the ballot box. And then, against all odds, against all historic precedence, they watched as the candidate that the people selected actually TOOK OFFICE. Without violence. Without bloodshed. There was no coup. There were no brutal repressions. There was order. And the votes of the people actually counted. The election actually MATTERED.
Suddenly, it wasn’t too much to hope for. Suddenly, it wasn’t just an anachronistic system of a decadent west, but a system which might actually work in the breadbasket of Islam as well!
Make no mistake. The other Muslim countries of the Middle East…and very likely the world…are taking clear notice of what is happening in Iran. Make no mistake. THEY understand the implications.
THIS is the very thing for which our sons and daughters have been willing to give their lives. THIS is the reason that sons, fathers, mothers, daughters spend year after year in the desert sands of Iraq and Afghanistan, often spilling their blood upon it: to give the hope of freedom to these people. AND TO OTHERS LIKE THEM.
In the waning months of our own Revolution, our resources nearly exhausted, our own hopes whittled to a tattered fringe, the country of France made a decision to intercede on our behalf. Their ships blockaded the English, their advisors trained our troops, their guns sounded alongside our own. More than just their hatred of their longstanding enemy the English, we see in their writings an almost poetic embracing of the ideals of freedom and liberte’ for which we strove. Their intervention made the difference. Their willingness to stand beside us helped turn mere revolution into true freedom.
Today, we have the chance to be the revoltuionary “French” to the people of Iran. While our guns may never be fired beside theirs, while our ships might be along time in coming to their shores, we can at least express our solidiarity. We can at LEAST raise our voices in support. And our blogs, our Tweets, and our editiorials.
And yet, to our national shame, our current President refuses to do just that. He is more bound by concerns of political expedience and consensus that in championing the cause of freedom of a people willing to risk their very lives to see a new future come to pass.
This could very well be a turning point in the history not only of the Middle East, but of our country as well. These are the times that reveal the character of a nation, of a people, and of a President. And yet, at this turning point, our President is choosing to turn away.
Pres. Reagan was not afraid to risk “angering” the Russians. Pres. G.W. Bush was not afraid of “angering” Al Qaeda. Why does Pres. Obama seem so hesitant to risk “angering” Iran?
I will tell you why. Because the people of Iran have seen America and the West bring freedom and democracy to a people in the Middle East. Now these same people would seem to believe, oh so foolishly I fear, that maybe, just maybe, America and the West might be a part of bringing them a similar freedom.
The people of Iran are reaching out to freedom. The question we must ask, Mr. President, is whether or not we will reach out as well? And however we answer, what will history say about the opportunity we either embraced, or let pass us by?
Mr. President, you are being called upon by the inescapable tide of events to chose whom you will serve. To decide for which ideals you will stand. To actually commit to a course of action which may be politically costly in many respects, but which, ultimately is the right thing to do.
What is your answer?
And of course, Iowahawk brings the SarcastiBat to bear with brutal effectiveness, as always.
Frankly, if America is going to regain respect as a geopolitical superpower, we need to make the tough call to sit quietly on the sidelines.
R.S. McCain is lamenting our POTUSal silence, and wondering about those english-language protest signs as well: