That is why Khamenei has come to the conclusion that Mousavi must be seized, broken, and displayed to his followers. The show trials to date have been a rehearsal for that impending melodrama. And even though the mullahs know that a direct attack on Mousavi and his allies will cause all hell to break out, they fear all other alternatives even more, as the institutions of the Islamic Republic fracture, key individuals defect, and wealth goes out of the country, (as was recently demonstrated by the Turks, who seized more than eighteen billion dollars worth of bank notes and gold en route from Iran to Europe).
What should the West do?
Given thirty years of steadfast fecklessness, reinforced by the relative silence of the Europeans and the plaintive pleas of Obama for warm, cuddly relations between America and the Islamic Republic, it will be very difficult to convince the mullahs that the West will do anything serious if there is major bloodletting in Iran following a strike against Mousavi and the others. Even if the likes of Sarkozy want to do something, they must now do more than would have been necessary if the West had supported the cause of the Iranian people all along. Once again, appeasement only makes the final conflict worse. Inevitably, we approach the moment of choice: will it be Iran with the bomb, or will it be necessary to bomb Iran?
I have long argued that the Iranian people hate this regime, and would rise against it, and that we should be supporting them. Rarely has any analysis been so widely derided or so thoroughly confirmed as this one. Nobody can doubt the desires of the people to rid themselves of their beturbaned tyrants; and I dare say that any debate between the appeasers and those in favor of supporting the Iranian people, would be over in very short order. Those who oppose support are primarily those, like President Obama, who believe America has traditionally played a malignant role in world affairs, and that any hint of American support would cause the Iranian people to turn on a dime and join with Khamenei to fight the Great Satan, even at the cost of their own freedom.
It just doesn’t parse.
Thus, the Obama Administration should do two things: it should publicly warn the mullahs that any action against Mousavi and the others would automatically terminate all American efforts to engage in dialogue, and would lead to harsh measures against the regime. And second, it should announce that it does not recognize Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad as the legitimate president of Iran, call for the release of all political prisoners and encourage a peaceful and political solution to the Iranian crisis, one in which the people will have the final say. Or do you prefer the terrible choice of bombing or waiting to be bombed by them?
Yes, that would surely be the end of the Islamic Republic. But the Islamic Republic has died in the past two months. It is time for the West to bury it.