To continue the realpolitik theme, I keep hearing from friends that these protests will die when they are ruthlessly crushed by the military and para-military forces firmly controlled by the Iranian regime through a system of patronage. This risk definitely exists, but the most anyone can do is follow their conscience and do the right thing. This is the first popular movement in a repressive regime to be documented via social networks. That makes a difference, just like the letter-writing campaigns pioneered by the folks at Amnesty International made a difference. We also should not doubt the power of non-violent protest and the moral authority it confers.
There are a few things about this protest that may make it stronger than it appears:
- The protests are widespread, and have broad support within the country.
- Civilian supporters of the regime admit the election results are likely inaccurate, even if they want their guy to win.
- The protesters have major political figures on their side.
- The religious establishment has yet to make it’s views known and they may not look kindly at the takeover by a militarized regime which will eventually undermine their authority.
- Despite the Iranian regime’s attempts, news, photos and video continue to stream in documenting the protests and the authoritarian response.
These are all good reasons the movement in Iran may be more successful than the nay-sayers fear. But even if it isn’t, the real question is who stands in the right, and whether we, as bystanders should recognize the abuse of power for what it is.
We must hope for the best, there is no courage to be found in despair, and the people of Iran will need all the courage they can muster to see a restoration of their right to freely elect leaders of their choosing.