It would be naive to say, as some hard core non-interventionists have, that the United States has no interest in what is taking place in Iran. Even though a victory by the so-called reformers would not end Iran’s nuclear program and would not stop the country’s rivalry with the United States in the Persian Gulf region, a government that would tone down the level of confrontation would be very welcome. It is amazing to watch how the neocons, who were prepared to incinerate Iran two weeks ago, have suddenly found that there exist millions of good democrats who have to be supported with blood and treasure. Someone else’s blood and treasure, to be sure.
It should be taken as a given that no one among the Sunday morning pundits really understands what is going on in Iran, so perhaps they as a group should step back from the fray and stop giving advice. Which wisdom I will immediately ignore: leave Iran alone. Everyone knows that the US would like to see the reformers triumph, so how does it help to say so? Saying so only gives the conservatives the moral edge, being able to claim that the reform movement is some kind of western conspiracy. Acts of Congress, with only Ron Paul dissenting, pledging support for the reformers will have only negative consequences. Pastel revolutions don’t work. Real change only takes place when internal forces in the country demand it, otherwise it is the wrong kind of change, empowering one group of rascals over another. It is also just possible that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won in a reasonably fair poll, largely because of fear of the United States and its allies.
Nota bene, Iran held an election and the clerics clearly understand that their legitimacy rests on a popular mandate. Some day they will be gone, but it might not be tomorrow. Meanwhile, the United States has no horse in this race. Washington has to talk to whomever is in power in Tehran and it is in our national interest to make those talks as effective as possible by avoiding posturing beforehand. I might add that after the dust settles on the election it would also be in our interest to stop efforts to overthrow the Iranian regime using dissident Kurds, Baluchis, and Arabs as surrogates. It doesn’t help and, in the long run, will only make the inevitable and necessary accomodation between Washington and Tehran harder to achieve.