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Dialogue with Iran's Monstrous Rulers?

Dialogue with Iran's Monstrous Rulers?

By David Warren - June 21, 2009

Everything is on the line in Iran, at present -- not only the future of the Iranian regime, but also of the Middle East, and by extension, the most tangible western interests.

Consider: if the Iranian regime were to fall, by far the largest organized threat to peace in the region would be removed. This includes not only a fairly proximate nuclear threat to Israel (for all we know North Korea's second nuclear test was actually Iran's first), but sponsorship of the most efficient part of the world's Islamist terror apparatus.

Hezbollah and Hamas are both, today, for all practical purposes, Iranian proxies. Through them, and through other channels, the regime of the ayatollahs makes money, materiel, and expertise available to terror cells as far away as Argentina, Sweden, the Philippines.

But more significantly, Hezbollah and Hamas together represent an Iranian veto on any Palestinian settlement, or any attempt to ameliorate that conflict, with all that that implies.

The Syrian regime, most dangerous of Israel's neighbours, would, in the absence of Iranian support, have to make accommodations, indeed find new allies.

North Korea's chief conduit into the illicit Middle Eastern arms trade would be lost.

The principal external threat to Iraq would be removed, along with sponsorship of Iraq's own domestic insurgencies. Afghanistan would also be more secure.

In economic terms, the threat of a world crisis provoked by the interdiction of oil shipments from the Persian Gulf would disappear.

Both Russia and China would lose a very important lever of influence on world affairs.

If the ayatollahs come down, the whole world situation is changed, and in every conceivable way for the better. It is impossible to overestimate the stakes of the insurrection in Iran.

As I've written before, the "election rigging" fiasco was of no consequence, except as the spark that ignited this latest and largest of several successive popular insurrections.

As Amir Taheri has put it, the opposition candidate who lost the rigged election, Mir Hossein Mousavi, is just "a balloon that a section of the Iranian middle class inflated to show its anger not only at Ahmadinejad but also at the entire Khomeinist regime."

Likewise, very naive foreigners, such as Barack Obama of the United States, vested foolish hopes in him as some kind of velvet revolutionary.

But in the course of the last week, events have transformed the issue.

Ayatollah Khamenei's extremely forthright statement to the demonstrators Friday clarified the situation. The regime understands that its very existence is at stake. So do its opponents. You win, or you die.

The demands of the people in the streets -- and there have been quite literally millions of them, turned out in every significant Iranian town, invisible to western media holed up under house arrest in Tehran, but quite apparent through the Internet -- are unambiguous.

They want "regime change." They do not want an amelioration, but an end, to the morality laws, the thugs who enforce them, the secret prisons, the international brinkmanship, the terror networks, and the rest of the regime's infrastructure of power.

They explicitly want an end to the "Islamic Republic of Iran," which, as Taheri and others have long been explaining, is a triple oxymoron (it isn't Islamic in any orthodox sense, it isn't a Republic in any political sense, and it does not recognize Iran as a nation).

Within Iran's clerical elite, there is division. "Supreme Ruler" Khamenei, and his President Ahmadinejad, have all the guns, and all the thugs. They are arrayed not only against a mass of people, but also against the clerical losers of the putsch of 1989, when Khamenei succeeded the late Ayatollah Khomeini.

However, this, too, has ceased to be interesting, for at the moment there are only two sides from which to choose: the regime, or the revolution.

As I wrote Wednesday, I expect the regime to win, in a bloodbath. Guns trump warm bodies. But it may well be a close-run thing.

If the regime does win, it will emerge from the carnage as an even deadlier enemy to the West. The only leverage the West will have is appeasement, and that has never worked, anytime or anywhere in history.

President Obama bet, with his Cairo speech, that it will work this time. He disavowed his predecessor's bellicose rhetoric, and committed the U.S. to dialogue with Iran's monstrous rulers.

President Reagan, who extracted more concessions from Soviet tyrants than all previous presidents combined, did not do so by making nice to them.

otiosus@sympatico.ca
© Ottawa Citizen
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