Seven months later, the Green Movement is definitely a sustained popular struggle, though not quite a systemic revolt. The movement is no monolith, but a disparate collection of groups. It has reformists (who support extensive, rapid reform), incrementalists (who favor certain reforms) and radicals of all sorts (some promoting Western-style democracy). The factions, however, are all outraged by the endemic theft and corruption of the Khomeinist elites and dismayed by Iran's insistently stagnant economy. Concern over the growing political and economic clout of the Revolutionary Guard Corps also unites them.
A revived Iranian nationalism, one decoupled from the Ayatollah Khomeini, is another potential glue. Movement leaders have discussed changing the nation's name from the Khomeinists' Islamic Republic of Iran to simply the Iranian Republic. While a name change may appear superficial, when so many Iranians feel cheated, exploited and excluded by Khomeini's heirs, its implications are immense.
An appeal to a "new nationalism" may be behind opposition leader Mir Hossein Moussavi's statement this week that "the current political situation in Iran indicates the presence of the remaining roots of tyranny and dictatorship of the Shah." Moussavi declared, "I don't believe that the revolution achieved its goals."
Meanwhile, America and its allies continue to try to deny the mullahs a nuclear bomb and prevent a telling blow from striking vulnerable nations. The U.S. announced the deployment of eight advanced Patriot anti-missile missile batteries to Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. U.S. Navy Aegis ships with Standard-3 anti-ballistic missiles are also in the Persian Gulf.
These new deployments, and suggestions by U.S. officials that Iranian nuclear facilities can be targeted, mark what diplomats call "a change in tone." Anti-Americans will call these deployments arrogant -- I call them sensible and long overdue.
Let's hope this "change" signals the end of the Obama administration's hapless spate of stupid Middle Eastern diplomacy, which included his "no pre-conditions" promise to the mullahs regarding negotiations and his June 2009 groveling apology from America. Obama delivered that tyrant and terrorist-inflating hooey a week before the Iranian elections. If Obama really wants to end the mullahs' bomb quest, he should support Iran's opposition. That means supporting regime change -- in Tehran.
Austin Bay is the author of three novels. His third novel, The Wrong Side of Brightness, was published by Putnam/Jove in June 2003. He has also co-authored four non-fiction books, to include A Quick and Dirty Guide to War: Third Edition (with James Dunnigan, Morrow, 1996).
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