For more than a decade, we’ve been hearing about the real Iran—the one whose youth is Westernized, desirous of connection with the United States, and tired of living in a theocracy. It’s too soon to know whether the protests today in Iran represent the fruition of the ideas about popular sentiment and the possibility of an uprising. But it is clear that this is a time of testing for the idea that the mullahcracy can be shaken to its foundations by an aggrieved populace. If it can’t, then the regime will prove itself stronger than some of its most heated critics say it is, and the world will have to adjust accordingly. If this is Tienanmen II, and the regime crushes it, there will be no easy approach to regime change. And there will be no pretending any longer that Iran’s regime isn’t a unified, hardline, irridentist, and enormously dangerous one.
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