A terrible thought, but what if the Iranian regime actually suppresses the revolt of the Iranian masses?
I don't think this is possible, in the long run, of course: A regime that slaughters its own children has no future. But it can presumably maintain its grip on power for at least a while. What does this mean for its looming confrontation with America and, in particular, Israel, over its nuclear program? Do the events of recent days prove Benjamin Netanyahu right?
Yesterday, on Meet the Press, Netanyahu told David Gregory that recent events have "unmasked" the true nature of the regime, and this is undoubtedly true: No one, not even the regime's apologists, believes that these men are secret moderates interested in seeing Iran rejoin the civilized world. So in one way, the regime's murderous response to dissent helps Netanyahu make his case that this is indeed a fanatic regime. But recent events also cut against Netanyahu's analysis, I think: The Iranian regime has exposed itself as interested mainly in self-preservation. Netanyahu told me earlier this spring that Iran is run by a "messianic, apocalyptic cult." But I think there's an argument to be made that Khamenei and Ahmadinejad are grubby men mainly interested in perpetuating their power. In other words, they seem to behave like rather quotidian dictators, not religious fanatics. A confrontation with Israel would certainly threaten the stability of their regime, and the stability of their regime is something they quite obviously cherish.
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