This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Thirty years ago, Ruhollah Khomeini returned to Iran from exile to found a totalitarian theocracy — the likes of which we have not seen for hundreds of years, perhaps even since medieval Europe. Thirty years ago, Iranian militants took American embassy workers hostage. Thirty years ago was the last time I saw Iran. To this day, I have not been able to return.
In 1979, the new Iranian clerical regime promised the Iranian people a republic. By definition, a “republic” is a state in which the supreme power rests in the body of its citizens. But in the last thirty years, Iranians have experienced an archaic system of theocracy tyrannically take hold.
The struggle in Iran today is about human rights and democracy. The struggle is not about the moderate camp versus the radical camp, rather it pits the forces of state despotism and religious fundamentalism against a nation that demands democracy, rejects military fundamentalists and repudiates the concept of a Supreme Leader. The issue in Iran is not which faction of the Islamic Republic can meet the demands of the Iranian people, but rather what system other than a self-appointed theocratic dictatorship can save Iran.
Every night, the brave sons and daughters of Iran shout from their rooftops for freedom. We know the day will come when those cries are answered, when the system of governance in Iran is one that belon…