The folks at niacINsight are doing an absolutely spectacular job covering the uprising in Iran. Everyone should bookmark the site as an indispensable source. I’d like to quibble, though, with something I’ve read there and elsewhere a couple of times over the weekend.
U.S. Representative Mike Pence from Indiana said on CNN that he hopes President Obama offers a word of support for the dissidents in Iran. “This is absolutely the wrong thing to do,” wrote a contributor to the niac site. “Iran has a long history of rejecting foreign meddling in its internal affairs, and even the most prominent human rights activists have told US lawmakers the best thing they can do is stop trying to get involved.”
It’s certainly possible that Khamenei and his security forces would seize on open American support for the demonstrators, declare them stooges of the “Great Satan,” and crack down even more viciously.
However, there’s another possibility that few seem to have thought of. Right now the regime may be sticking its proverbial finger in the wind to sense what a foreign reaction to a more ferocious domestic response might look like. It’s somewhat surprising that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps hasn’t already gunned down a substantial number of people. Surely its commanders have at least considered massacring dissidents as in Tienanmen Square. If they feel they might get away with it because no one outside Iran is willing to stop them – which is exactly what happened in Burma last year – silence from the White House might actually increase the likelihood of something monstrous happening.