A revolutionary situation

Michael Ledeen for National Review Online reports on the revolutionary momentum building in Iran. Ledeen believes that a “revolutionary situation” now exists in Iran, and he cites a series of developments that support this view. The key question, it seems to me, is what will the police and the military do. Once a regime loses the support of these institutions, the game, naturally, is almost always up. According to Ledeen, many leaders of the armed forces have said they will side with the people in the event of a conflict. Ledeen also believes that more than half of the Revolutionary Guards will support the people. Accordingly, the mullahs have imported foreign thugs — “Afghan Arabs” to use the derogatory term that appears in the popular press — to put down demonstrations. That doesn’t sound like a viable long-term strategy.
Ledeen laments, however, that our own State Department and intelligence agencies do not believe a democratic revolution is likely in Iran. For that reason, presumably, Secretary Powell and his deputy Richard Armitage have not been willing to throw their prestige openly behind regime change and democracy. Indeed, as Joel Mowbray shows in this piece, also from National Review Online, “mullah engagement” has been the policy of our State Department. Fortunately, the leading exponent of this policy, Richard Haass, has left the government. But Mowbray is afraid that there are more “engagers” where he came from. Ledeen and Mowbray agree that President Bush’s praise of the Iranian freedom movement and condemnation of the repression has been on the mark. So I suppose the problem is the usual one — getting the State Department in step with the president.

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