plea for the green
Please, please let this often well-meaning but always clumsy democracy have the wisdom and the foresight to show restraint, to have the deft touch we have so often lacked. Please. Iran has many, many people who are desperate for democracy, who are progressive, who believe in the liberal tradition, who want to reduce the role of religion in their politics, and who want new, legitimate leadership. But crucially, very many of them are also deeply critical of the United States. I don’t want to fight the old battles about the US’s role in the reinstallation of the Shah, or our culpability in the Khomeini revolution. It would feel somehow vulgar to do that, right now, in the face of what has happened and could happen. But many of the Iranian people, secular and religious, have a deep sense of grievance with the United States. To “assist” the unrest that perhaps could become revolution or reform would threaten to strangle it in the crib.
This is the opportunity to demonstrate that we are a wise nation as well as a powerful one. This is our opportunity to show the world, and the world’s Muslims, that we have learned the lessons of the recent past. This is our opportunity to prove that we understand that democracy cannot be enforced or bullied into being. Let us show that we understand the power of example, and the power of restraint. Let this be the moment where our belief in democracy and liberal values is not enacted, but embodied. Please. This is the time.