What is evident is that if we consider Iran’s pro-democracy “green movement” not as a revolution but as a civil rights movement — as the leaders of the movement do — then a “win” must be measured over time. The movement’s aim is not for a sudden and complete overthrow of Iran’s political system. That may disappoint both extremes of the American and Iranian political spectrums, left and right, and especially U.S. neoconservatives hoping for regime change.
Seen in this light, it’s evident that the green movement has already “won” in many respects, if a win means that many Iranians are no longer resigned to the undemocratic aspects of a political system that has in the last three decades regressed, rather than progressed, in affording its citizens the rights promised to them under Iran’s own Constitution.
The Islamic Republic’s fractured leadership recognizes this, as is evident in its schizophrenic reaction to events since the disputed June election. Although the hard-liners in power may be able to suppress general unrest by sheer force, the leadership is also aware that elections in the Islamic state can never be held as they were in 2009 (even conservatives have called for a more transparent electoral system), nor can the authorities completely silence opposition politicians and their supporters or ignore their demands over the long term.
It augurs well for eventual democratic reform in Iran that the green movement continues to exist at all. Despite… >>>