Turning Back The Baseej

A moment to savor: the marching crowd manages to turn back the regime's thugs, and as a riot cop helmet is grabbed, a roar of excitement spills out of the crowd.

I just can't help but hear the confidence, the joy mixed with rage, in the voices of the people on the streets. One woman in her car is grinning widely as she passes the demo. Even in the midst of this carnage, they have the knowledge that history will acknowledge them, that any victory raw violence may have, it is Pyrrhic. But I also get a sense - totally subjective and maybe my own wishful thinking - that the confidence comes from a sense that they are winning this standoff, that today has rekindled into an even stronger flame, the sense that Iran's people remain sovereign in their own land, that they have not been intimidated, and that they know they will soon win.

How does the regime survive this massive demonstration of its fragility? How does the clergy react to these scenes of total mayhem? How does Ahmadinejad blame all this on Obama, the Queen and the BBC?

And note how critical it is that Obama's reticence removes from Ahmadinejad this convenient weapon of demonizing the protests as pawns of the Great Satan. The neoconservatives still seem to think this struggle is all about them. But in fact, it is all about the Iranian people's utter independence of them and us and anyone but themselves.

And that's what makes this so powerful.