Let’s not pretend that the street revolt in Iran — is it too early to call it a revolution? — is occurring in a vacuum. It isn’t. Something approaching secular democracy is working for millions of Muslims, most of them Shiites, in Iraq.
And the people of Iran have noticed.
If their revolution succeeds, Iran still might not be our friend. But a new government would have a lot to deal with — and might find it profitable not to directly support quite so many terrorists. And a less-bellicose Iran would reduce tensions around the Gulf, where a mostly-unnoticed arms race has been going on for the last few years. Hell, the Saudis helped fund the Pakistani bomb, and you’ve got to figure they expect some return on their investment.
Meanwhile, who knows what Tehran is willing to do. Another Tiananmen? Something stupid, insane, and deadly to provoke the US and rally the people? Or maybe to provoke Israel? The mullahs still have some big cards left to play, although currently they’re accusing the UN of meddling, which defines lameness down.
Of course, President Obama looks set to play his own deflection game here in just a few minutes. So there’s a lot of that lameness redefining going on.
Lead, follow, or get out of the way? Mostly the last one, but if we do any leading, it would best be done quietly. What we shouldn’t be doing is pretending nothing is happening, or that it isn’t any big deal. Finding where the line is between that and staying out of the way… well, that’s the tough one.