Kevin Sullivan thinks that the following three questions, posed by the Leveretts, deserve answering:
First, what does this opposition want? Second, who leads it? Third, through what process will this opposition displace the government in Tehran?
Perhaps the best response to this is from a historian reader:
The Leveretts understand nothing about revolutions. This is important. They suggest that there can't be another revolution in Iran unless the opposition knows exactly what it wants, it has a visible leader in control, and it has a "process" for replacing the current government. How many modern revolutions have ever satisfied those conditions, beginning with the French Revolution?
Those that were really coups d'état did -- Russia 1917, Iran 1979 -- but the most important revolutions in our lifetime have been the velvet ones; they were viral before the internet, succeeded in different and unforeseeable ways, and many were acephalic (word for the day). Thousands of leaderless East Germans climbed the wall of the Hungarian embassy, then walked across the border when a government official made a slip of the tongue. The wall fell. One day Romanians cowered before Ceausescu's Securitate, the next day they booed one of his speeches, and four days later he was dead. Game over.
The odds, the guns, the truncheons, and the will to brutality are all against the Iranian opposition today. They have to live with that, and so do we. The Leveretts for some bizarre reason, want to embrace it. The title of their June piece in Politico was "Ahmadinejad won. Get over it." Well, revolutions happen. Wake up.
It's a funny thing. Some neocons seem almost ambivalent about a revolution in Iran because it might lead to a nuclear-armed Iran not led by theo-fascists - which would complicate Israel's diplomatic and military position in the region. And many realists don't see a revolution because they remain wedded to the idea of the Iranian red staters rallying to their fundies the way Southerners rally to Cheney and Palin. Or perhaps because there's some kind of realist super-frisson in negotiating with the likes of Khamenei. I don't know. Skepticism is totally valid; but the measure of assurance that nothing has changed strikes me as off-base.
For what it's worth,I believe that a democratic revolution in Iran is both possible and would be the single most transformative event in global politics since the end of the Cold War. Especially for the US. I sure don't believe we should take it for granted; but I also see what is in front of us.
What's in front of us is a regime divided against itself, reliant on raw violence - and nothing else - to stay in control, a regime that has failed to crush massive resistance to a stolen election, and has, if anything, discredited itself further by over-reaction. State violence will have to keep increasing in intensity as state legitimacy keeps eroding. That's not a positive pattern for those in power. And if the only way out of that is some kind of deal with Mousavi and Karroubi, then we have a Gorbachev to deal with.
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