The Case for Iran: Fighting for Freedom

Many people (including Barack Obama) have pointed out that Mir Hussein Mousavi, the defeated presidential candidate and a key figure in the Iranian protests, is scarcely different from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. After his numerous overtures to the mullahs, it is not hard to know why Obama is hoping the opposition will be crushed. But there are signs that many of the Iranian protesters are not fighting for Mir Hussein Mousavi. Mousavi is an Islamic Republic establishment hack. Are people in Iran dying for more of the same thing they have been getting from the Islamic Republic for thirty years?

I do not believe for one moment that the resistance to the Iranian regime that the world has witnessed, with young people risking torture and death, has been about installing Mousavi as President. The Iranians were given four choices; it was not as if they could write in Ronald Reagan's name. They went with what they had. Mousavi was the "reform" candidate, and that was what they voted for -- which is why millions took to the streets. Mousavi's background is problematic? Why wouldn't anyone believe that Mousavi, if he became President, would also have to answer to the people of Iran, the people who risked their lives "for change"?

Mousavi may be transformed by events as well. Is he not capable of evolving? Robert Byrd, senior US Senator and President pro tempore of the United States Senate (a position that puts him third in the line of presidential succession) joined the Ku Klux Klan when he was 24 and was elected Exalted Cyclops; he also held the position of Kleagle (recruiter). People do change, and Mousavi says things that are inimical to the absolute power of a theocratic state. He knows it, and his supporters know it. Moreover, he candidly admits that the Green revolution has led him to take positions he did not anticipate taking. As Khamenei envisions the matter, theocracy is absolute rule, and this is the Islamic way of doing things. But Mousavi has called for freedom of speech -- this is not Islam, it is not a theocracy, and it suggests a new liberalism and free expression of ideas.

The ultimate question is what a regime change, or even modification of the regime with a Mousavi as president, would mean to Iran's nuclear program. I am optimistic on this front for two reasons: one, because I do not hear Mousavi saying bad things about the U.S. and Israel to whip up the crowds; and two, if he wants rapprochement with the West, he will have to give up the bomb. And I think he does want the support of the West. If he becomes President, he will need the West as a bulwark in his defenses against a resurgence of Islamic fundamentalism.

He is a Muslim -- nothing much has changed about that, but he may bow to pressure from the Iranian people for a relaxation of Shari'a rule and a return to something like the way Iranian society was under the Shah. This could lead him to moderate things in Iran a bit: no bomb, and perhaps no Syria, Hezb'allah and Abbas as proxies by which to wage terrorism.

It is conceivable.  This result would be wonderful in light of the ongoing radicalization of Syria, Turkey, and Pakistan. A moderate Iran could be a very stabilizing thing in the region. This is why Obama's failure to seize the moment is so shortsighted and stupid.

Many were horrified at the murder of Neda Soltan, the beautiful young woman who was shot dead by the mullahs' thugs on a street in Tehran, but there have been many Neda Soltans. The most visible feature of this movement is the leadership role of the women in Iran. They are the heart, soul and fuel of this defiance in the face of crushing repression.

And while many protesters have been shouting "Allahu akbar," this doesn't in itself mean that they are fighting for more Shari'a. Many more have been shouting "Death to the dictator!" and "Freedom or death!" And this message appeared on Twitter Saturday:

"Why don't we Iranians just reject Islam and go back to what we were before Arabs forced this allah akbar thing on us?"

Meanwhile, the messages coming from Iranian dissidents are increasingly chilling. One wrote on Facebook:

"I got a very disturbing good bye message on Facebook from my cousin (who has been active in the Tehran protests). Please share my cousin's words with the world because I don't think people will know how many people are being killed and tortured until years from now (this is what happened during the crack down after the revolution) and please share this website with the people in Iran who need to know how to protect themselves."

The cousin wrote:

"I would not be around that much, we have real security issues over here and I have confirmed news that a lot of people are being arrested through Cyber stuff like videos, photos and internet posts. They r monitoring everything closely now that they are a little bit free. We will try to somehow pass the news as much as we can, but things are getting too risky over here, there is a lot that you guys don't know about how they r arresting ppl and what happens to some of them, where they are taken and how they are tortured (all I can say is that it is worst than what happened in revolution)."

I am stunned by those (particularly those on the right) who deride this outpouring of humanity marching for freedom as "more of the same." How can those who supported the Bush doctrine turn away? Some attitudes are entrenched in people and cultures, but I do not believe that people fight bullets with rocks and bricks for more of the same. They can have Shari'a rule now, without the suffering and horror that has come with the demonstrations and risking their lives. They're being slaughtered.

Why are those on the right so quick to deride this powerful movement and kick it to the curb? How could anyone dismiss out of hand so courageous a movement? What is there to lose in supporting this effort? What's the downside? If they are right, nothing changes. But if they are wrong, this could be historically cataclysmic. So why help despots and the world's worst oppressors in snuffing out this movement and relegating to an historical footnote? This would undermine every position supporters of freedom and democracy ever took. Why not wait and do a gleeful post mortem? Why help the ghouls and Islamic supremacists?

Clearly a significant number of the protesters have been fighting for freedom from the Islamic Republic and the stifling restrictions of Shari'a itself. Even Sheikh Naim Qassem, the deputy leader of Hezb'allah, the jihadist terror group that is Iran's client in Lebanon, noticed that. "What is going on in Iran," he said Thursday, "is not a simple protest against the results of the presidential election. There are riots and attacks in the streets that are orchestrated from the outside in a bid to destabilize the country's Islamic regime."

Would people who are fighting simply to install a different President in a strict Shari'a state that is viciously hostile to Israel appeal for help from the country they hate the most? Yet Iranian dissident Arash Irandoost asked for help from...Israel: "Dear Israeli Brothers and Sisters, Iran needs your help more than ever now." He argued that Israel and the Iranian freedom fighters faced a common foe: "The unjust treatment and brutal massacre of the brave Iranians in the hands of the mullahs' paid terrorist Hamas and Hizbullah gangs are not seen by the majority of the Iranians." Remember, Mir Hussein Mousavi was a founder of Hezb'allah.

And Amil Imani, another courageous Iranian fighting for freedom, said that "the Iranian people are lionizing any leader of any nation who comes out strongly against the Islamic Republic at this time."

The Iranian people are dying for their aspirations. As Arash Irandoost's appeal suggests, those aspirations do not include the destruction of America or Israel. The freedom fighters must travel an uphill road against a cruel, vicious theocracy and a huge fundamentalist peasantry. But they have been fighting, and dying tragically -- dying magnificently and bravely, trying to better their society.

It is a stain on the America's great history as a force for good that we elected a President who would give tacit support to murderers and savages, and abandon those dying for freedom. Yes, freedom.

If we have lost prestige in the world, it is not because of George W. Bush. He was reluctantly respected. Bush was derided to bring America down a peg: the hatred of the good for being good. The realities of Bush's approach to the world versus Obama's capitulation and appeasement will continue to wreak untold havoc on a world driven by leftists, elitists and the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

The Green revolution, like the Cedar revolution, the Rose revolution (Georgia), and all those purple fingers were the manifestation of an idea, an idea that men yearned for: liberty and freedom. And while not everyone wants freedom, those who do ought to be given their inalienable human right to pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The Iranians taking bullets, axe blows and the crushing blows of batons are those very people. And these courageous and desperately isolated people deserve the wholehearted support of all free people. Hope! Change! Indeed.

Pamela Geller is the editor and publisher of the Atlas Shrugs website and former associate publisher of the New York Observer.
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