I'm ashamed of myself. I haven't written a word about Iran in years, and Iran may be the most important story no one is talking about.
I shouldn't say no one. Michael Ledeen, my colleague at National Review Online and the holder of the Freedom Chair at the American Enterprise Institute, has been writing about Iran with a constancy his fans call Churchillian and his enemies call deranged. Ledeen is convinced, as are numerous Iranian activists and exiles, that Iran is poised for a democratic revolution.
Tehran, the nation's capital, as well as several other cities have been wracked in recent days with widespread anti-government protests and violent crackdowns by government forces. Buildings have been set ablaze, and exiles are calling for revolution. According to reports on Activistchat.com, a Web site dedicated to freeing Iran from the oppressive rule of the mullahs, numerous protestors have been killed. Ledeen - who has many sources inside Iran and out - reports that the roundups and executions of young men have picked up at a terrific pace. Iran has staged 120 public hangings since March alone, according to the government's own news agency.
The unpopularity of the mullahs, primarily with the younger, Western-oriented generation, is causing panic inside the regime. The appeal of revolutionary theocracy has been bled dry. The Christian Science Monitor reported - some would say "reluctantly reported" - that discontent with the regime and a desire for "change" according to various "polls" equals 90 percent. And we all remember those famous soccer games where Iranian fans chanted "USA! USA!"
Even if this weren't such a powerful human interest story, it would still be appalling how completely the mainstream media have downplayed what could be one of the most important news stories of our lives. If Iran were to throw off the shackles of the mullahocracy in favor of anything like a sane, decent and democratic regime, it would be the most significant advance for freedom and decency since the fall of the Berlin Wall. It would be a national security victory of staggering proportions.
So here's why we should all be ashamed we haven't paid more attention to this situation: The only way Iranian regime change will ever come about is if we - Americans, Europeans, the West - want it to. By ignoring the story, the press is in effect lending its support to the corrupt theocrats ruling Iran. One can't help but think this story is particularly inconvenient to those who think no good could ever come, even as a partial result, of the president's foreign policy.