Not all of them wish Ahmadinejad had won, or insist that the revolution is already crushed, or fear a more moderate Islamic republic because it would still threaten Israel, or just reflexively want to use this, of all things, as another bludgeon against Obama. Some are actually thrilled to see democratic forces break out, period. Michael Totten has been blogging up a storm; and Danny Finkelstein writes a smashing column. Money quote:

The protests for Mr Mousavi do not just expose the lie of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's landslide victory. They expose the lie that there is something Western in wanting democracy and human rights.

And what of the other leg of the neocon argument? What of the idea that peace comes through the spread of liberalism and democracy? Can anyone really doubt that should the reformists succeed, even a little bit, the world would be a safer place? A democratic Iran would stop financing world terrorist movements, it would stop obsessing about external enemies and foreign conspiracies, it would stop threatening its neighbours. It would still oppose Israeli policy, it would still want to acquire nuclear material, but the threat of violence would recede.

The mistake the neocons made is that we were not conservative enough, not patient enough.

Such impatience with dictatorships is understandable, indeed laudable. But the frustrating truth is that there are limits to what can be achieved by outsiders. Instead we have to wait as national movements, one by one, stand up for their rights. And sometimes, tragically, we even have to stand aside as those movements are crushed by their oppressors.

We may now see that happen in Iran. But at least we know this. The people of Iran might not get what we have. But in their millions, that is what they want. Really, they are just like us.

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