Khamenei and Ahmadinejad may begin to unclench their fist, as isolation and sullen defiance grow, in a bid to deliver what they would not allow the reformists to initiate: détente with America.
Obama must leave them dangling for the foreseeable future. He should refrain indefinitely from talk of engagement.
To do otherwise would be to betray millions of Iranians who have been defrauded and have risked their lives to have their votes count. To do otherwise would be to allow Khamenei to gloat that, in the end, what the United States respects is force. To do otherwise would be to embrace the usurpers.
The slow arc of moral justice is fine but Iran is gripped by the fierce urgency of now. Obama, the realist on whom idealism is projected, is obliged to make a course correction.
It’s an interesting analysis. The internal battle within the regime is actually a race to deliver engagement with Obama – just look at how Ahmadinejad is sniping at him, yet outright threatening Britain; it’s a diversion. A government delivering relations with Obama, legitimised by people’s votes, rather than ‘by God’, would (Khamenei & Ahmadinejad believe) bring down the theocratic revolution. Yet the irony of the stolen election continues – Mousavi never campaigned on a secular platform – the ‘green revolution”s semi-secular platform has arisen in defiance of the regime’s brutality and fraud. Obama must indeed continue not dealing with the fraudsters, and let moderate Iranians at all levels of that regime and society correct what has become an historic mistake, by removing Khamenei and Ahmadinejad. A true Islamic republic, were it to happen, would change everything. It’s not out of reach.