When Nikita Khrushchev bathed the Hungarian revolution in blood, Ike did not break relations. Khrushchev was at Camp David three years later. When Deng Xiaoping and Co. ordered the tanks into Tiananmen Square, George Bush I did not break relations. When Moscow ordered Warsaw to crush Solidarity, Ronald Reagan did not let that act of repression deter him from seeking direct talks to reduce nuclear weapons.
Again, let us wait for the dust to settle.
By now, even Ahmadinejad and Ali Khamenei must recognize that the Iranian revolution is losing the Iranian people. This is the third of four straight presidential elections where the turnout has been huge and the candidate who promised reconciliation with the West and an easing of social strictures won a landslide among the student young. Those are the future leaders of Iran.
Which way the regime will now go is difficult to predict.
After Tienanmen Square, the Chinese rulers who ordered in the tanks sought to reconnect with the disillusioned young by opening up to the West and building a neo-capitalist economy.
Iran, in economic straits with U.S. sanctions biting, its oil and gas reserves dwindling, could try the same route. Seize the opposition's best issues by seeking accommodation with America.
More likely, the regime, backed by the hard-line military, will try to reconnect with the masses and regain its reputation as defender of Islam and the nation, by defying the Americans, denouncing Israel and pressing forward with Iran's nuclear program.
The dilemma for America is that the theocracy defines itself and grounds its claim to leadership through its unyielding resistance to the Great Satan -- the United States -- and to Israel.
Nevertheless, Obama, with his outstretched hand, his message to Iran on its national day, his admission that the United States had a hand in the 1953 coup in Tehran, his assurances that we recognize Iran's right to nuclear power, succeeded. He stripped the Ayatollah and Ahmadinejad of their clinching argument -- that America is out to destroy Iran and they are indispensable to Iran's defense.
With the mask of patriotism and the legacy of true revolution lost through this election fraud, Iran's regime stands exposed as just another dictatorship covering up a refusal to yield power and privilege with a pack of lies about protecting the nation.
Saturday's election not only revealed the character of the Iranian regime. It also revealed that time is on our side. If the people of Iran can defy this regime, it is no threat to us.
As with the other revolutionary and totalitarian regimes, from the Soviet Union of Lenin and Stalin, to the People's Republic of Mao, to the revolutionary Cuba of Fidel, America outlasts them all.
And the ayatollahs, too.