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Ackerman, yesterday:

Ali Gharib makes the stellar point that what’s going on in Iran is reaffirmation of the Islamic Revolution, not a repudiation of it.  . . .  If Gharib is right, then what’s unfolding is a measure of reconciling the revolution with greater openness.  . . . If they can harmonize the Islamic Revolution with those concepts, they’ll have done themselves and the world a great service.

Publius parses. I think that's why this holds real promise. This is more like the American revolution than the French one. They are asking that the regime live up to its own commitments - i.e. an election that is actually fair within the circumscribed rules. They have essentially called Khamenei's bluff. And by remaining silent and peaceful and insisting on a fair election and using neutral slogans like Allah O Akbar, they are avoiding the trap of being dismissed as mere Western puppets.

I do not know where this ends. But I am not sure it ends with either total crackdown or total revolution. What the Mousavi movement wants is a revolution within the system. What they want it perestroika and glasnost. Of course, Khamenei and Ahmadinejad realize that this could lead to what perestroika and glasnost led to in Russia: the end of everything. And this is what the neocons fear: a reformed Iranian leadership that is still devoted to nuclear development.

If the green revolutionaries can hang in, and if some crack in the regime emerges, and if Ahmadinejad is shunted aside, then we have real and measurable progress to a more open and flexible Islamic republic. I think we may be able to do business with that regime and allow for nuclear power with a real inspection scheme in place. It's either that or a brutal military coup and dictatorship by basij and war with Israel. Partly for these reasons and partly because you cannot mistake the obvious democratic forces unleashed in Iran right now, I have not given up on the former. And surely if these are the choices, the mulahs may think twice before giving in to Ahmadi and his thugs. And if the movement prevails in adjusting the regime's leadership, the opening for Obama and the West will be as real as the late 1980s. For Reagan, see Obama; for Gorbachev, see Mousavi. Who Yeltsin will be we do not yet know.

Think of the potential as one of reformation, rather than revolution. But reformation is a vast improvement on what we have now. And unlike Iraq, it will have begun from within and so may have a chance of holding.

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