Out­last­ing the Ay­a­tol­lahs

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - Pat Buchanan

The Obama pol­icy of ex­tend­ing an open hand to Iran is work­ing and ought not be aban­doned be­cause of the grim events in Tehran.

For the Ira­nian theoc­racy has just ad­min­is­tered a body blow to its le­git­i­macy in the eyes of the Ira­nian peo­ple and the world.

Be­fore June 13, the regime could cred­i­bly pos­ture as de­fender of the na­tion, de­fi­ant in the face of the threats from Is­rael, faith­ful to the cause of the Pales­tini­ans, stand­ing firm for Iran’s right to en­rich ura­nium for peace­ful nu­clear power.

To­day, the regime, in­clud­ing the Supreme Leader Ay­a­tol­lah Ali Khamenei, is un­der a cloud of sus­pi­cion that they are but an­other gang of cor­rupt politi­cians who brazenly stole a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion to keep them­selves and their cler­i­cal cronies in power.

What should we do now? Wait for the dust to set­tle.

No U.S. de­nun­ci­a­tion of what took place in Iran is as cred­i­ble as the re­ports and pic­tures com­ing out of Iran. Those re­ports, those pic­tures are strip­ping the mul­lahs of the only as­set they seemed to pos­sess — that, even if fa­nat­ics, they were prin­ci­pled, hon­est men.

Like Ha­mas, it was said of them that at least they were not cor­rupt, that at least they did not cheat the peo­ple.

No more. To­day, in the streets of Tehran and other cities, they call to mind “Com­rade Bob” Mu­gabe in Harare, Zim­babwe.

Mah­moud Ah­madine­jad will never re­cap­ture that rev­o­lu­tion­ary pu­rity he once seemed to pos­sess as the man of the peo­ple who was elected pres­i­dent in the up­set of 2005. To­day, he ap­pears, as The New York Times puts it, “as the shrewd and ruth­less front man for a cler­i­cal mil­i­tary and po­lit­i­cal elite that is more uni­fied and em­bold­ened than at any time since the 1979 revo­lu­tion.”

There are other rea­sons Mr. Obama should not heed the war hawks howl­ing for con­fronta­tion now.

When your ad­ver­sary is mak­ing a fool of him­self, get out of the way. That is a rule of pol­i­tics Lyn­don John­son once put into the most pun­gent of terms. U.S. ful­mi­na­tions will change noth­ing in Tehran. But they would en­able the regime to di­vert at­ten­tion to U.S. med­dling in Iran’s af­fairs and por­tray the can­di­date robbed in this elec­tion, Mir-Hos­sein Mousavi, as a poo­dle of the Amer­i­cans.

When Nikita Khrushchev bathed the Hun­gar­ian revo­lu­tion in blood, Ike did not break re­la­tions. Mr. 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, Mr. 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.

Pat Buchanan is a na­tion­ally syndicated colum­nist.

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