As Friday slipped into Saturday, the mood everywhere was bleak and hopes were grim. We knew the crackdown was coming, and it would be brutal. Even when walking down to the Mpls rally my feelings were low. But the supporters in Uptown lifted my spirits, and having more work to do always focuses the mind. I felt better, more confidence.
And then I caught up on Saturday's events on Iran, and felt elated. We're going to win.
I understand that such declarations are a bit early, and since I have skin in the game, my perspective is biased. But I remain extremely confident that victory and independence for Iran is assured. It's all but inevitable now.
A lot of my thinking was brought around by a reader of Sullivan's blog, whose letter lays out the situation:
They're afraid of murdering too many protesters all at once. Eventually the protesters will come to understand how to work around this.
They can't open their telecomm pipes, because the minute they do 3 million people will know how and where to gather, and the world will get to see thousands of videos showing horrific instances of state violence against its subjects.
They have to open their telecomm pipes, because their economy cannot function without telecomm.
They can't repress too much, because the cleric support base will tip against them.
Rafsanjani is waiting to find out who'll keep his financial empire running. He's going to come to conclude the current leadership's promises cannot be trusted; the country is now being run by a Fascist Islamic Mafia.
If this is truly the situation we are facing, then the reader's conclusion is absolutely right - the mullahs are fucked. They are trapped in a vice grip with no escape. And it's here that I realized the crucial fact of the hour, which is this:
The army is not getting involved.
Think about that for a moment. On Friday, Khamenei laid down the gauntlet, and declared that he was about to drop the hammer on this growing rebellion. And Saturday has been brutal, no question about that. The Basij are vicious killers and thugs, truly the Ayatollahs' answer to the brownshirts of Nazi Germany (I don't use the "fascist" tag lightly; it applies here). But there were no soldiers, and there were no tanks.
We've seen many revolutions across the globe these past 20 years. We know the good endings (East Berlin) and the tragic endings (Tianenmen Square). When the regime cracks down, it is brutal, violent, and bloody. The tanks roll into the streets and smash the rebellion with one blow.
This has not happened in Iran. There are no tanks. The army is not getting involved.
Now the significance of the Basij and Revolutionary Guard becomes clear. The Islamic Republic has much stronger weapons in its arsenal, and yet they only use these. They use the Brownshirts, the thugs, the bullies, but not the military. Either the fascist regime will not use its tanks, or it cannot.
Saturday was the day of the fight. This was the regime's one chance at a knockout punch. They cannot allow the rebellion to continue to grow. It has to be crushed now or never. This is not about counting votes or a stolen election, and it really never was. That was just the straw that broke the camel's back, and now 30 years of suppression and abuse have exploded on the streets, on the rooftops, on the internet.
This was Khamenei's strongest punch. It was a hard punch. But we are still standing. We can take these punches. Sooner or later, the Iranian people are going to realize this. And then the fear of the Basij, the regime's greatest strength, will disappear. We are already seeing this happen in places.
What we have now is a fair fight. It's a revolution, make no bones about it. And it will lead to the end of the theocracy, the end of the Islamic Republic itself. The mood of the people might not completely be there yet, but that mood will change over time. Every shooting, every murder, will only fuel the rage, and that rage will fall upon the heads of the ruling mullahs themselves. Those mullahs who oppose Khamenei's coup, but wish to preserve the the theoracy, are the ones who are most trapped. They're dead men either way. And they know it.
It must really suck to be one of those old revolutionaries now, to see the regime change from the other side. There's a sense of fate to all of this. By the time this is finished, the entire ruling class will be equated with the brutality and cruelty of Khamenei's Brownshirts. And if their only defense are motorcycle gangs and cheap propaganda on state tv? They're fucked.
At this point, this is an endurance match. It all comes down to who can outlast the other. I think there's no question who wins. It is inevitable, like the rising tides. The Iranian people have each other. They have their religion, their faith, their history. They have the internet and the support of the entire world.
Sooner or later, something is bound to crack. Those mullahs fearing for their own heads will flip, or those quiet dissenters will speak out publicly, or the army will actively support the people, or international pressure will become deafening, or other Muslim nations will say it's finally time to go. Iran is going to become a free and democratic state at long last. If you still doubt me, I've got copies of The Battle of Algiers and George Orwell's 1984 to lend you.
One final wisecrack: do you know who is the most scared of all? Communist China. We've just shown the world how to break down and destroy every totalitarian dictatorship on the planet. A whole generation of computer geeks helped bring down one rotten regime. They're going to want to scratch that itch, my friends. Mark my words: China is next.