Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Obama & Iran's Green Movement

Iran’s Revolution: Year 2 -Reuel Marc Gerecht

President Obama — who only slowly came to recognize the Green Movement as a protest against tyranny — would probably ignore Iran’s democracy movement completely if Mr. Khamenei would just deign to talk to Washington about his nuclear program. The president seems irretrievably wedded to the idea of “engagement.”

The Green Movement is no longer just about liberalizing the state: it is now all about regime change.

[T]his is an instance in which playing power politics offers the United States tremendous upside. Ayatollah Khamenei is far more likely to compromise on nuclear weapons if he feels he’s about to be undone by the Green Movement. Common sense — let alone a strategic and historical grasp of what is unfolding in Iran — ought to incline President Obama to back the movement’s repeatedly made request of Washington: communications support.

More specifically, the opposition needs access to satellite-fed Internet connections across the country. Unlike landline connections, satellite-dish communications are difficult for the government to shut down.

The democracy movement also needs a large supply of digital-video broadcasting cards, which function much like prepaid telephone cards and allow downloading and uploading of digital content from satellites. The Green Movement’s technology experts have done back-of-the-envelope calculations: just $50 million per year could open the entire country to the Internet. Millions less would still allow the diverse range of pro-democracy groups to communicate with each other and more effectively counter the regime’s security forces. Compared to what the United States peacefully did to help anti-Communists during the cold war, such aid would be a pittance, financially and operationally.

President Obama doesn’t seem to grasp that the United States is unavoidably part of this increasingly violent struggle.
[New York Times]

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