March 15, 2006:
Since last year, the United States has been more energetically trying to build a trained democracy movement to overthrow the Iranian religious dictatorship. Using democracy as a weapon has gained a lot of believers since the late 1980s. Back then, the East European governments, all run by communist dictators (and backed up by the Soviet Union), collapsed when most of the people just stood up and said, "enough, we want change." By 1989, Eastern Europe was democratic, after over four decades of communist police states. Two years later, the Soviet Union itself collapsed the same way. This was scary stuff. Since then, there have been similar, and more deliberate, instances of this change in Serbia and Ukraine. And before that, you had a similar overthrow in the Philippines, where the term "People Power" was invented..
The moves necessary to make "People Power" work have now been turned into techniques that have been set down on check lists and presented in seminars. There's a drill that can make this happen if two conditions apply. First, most of the population must want democracy. Second, the security forces must be willing to stand down in the face of mass demonstrations. The first condition applies in Iran, the second doesn't. While the Islamic conservatives in Iran have the support of, at most, a third of the population, they do have over a hundred thousand armed men who are willing to kill to keep their religious leaders in power.
"People Power" is not a 1980s invention. Back in the 1930s, Indian democracy activists mobilized millions of people against the British colonial government. But it was admitted that, while such a movement worked against the British, it would not have worked if the colonial occupiers had been, say, German. Not today's Politically Correct Germans, but the rather more savage, pre-World War II variety. Old school Germans, who massacred Africans protesting colonial rule, and killed millions of civilians during World War II, would not have been as accommodating to peaceful demonstrators as were the British (with a few bloody exceptions.) The old school defenders of the Islamic tyrants in Iran appear ready to carry out some sustained killings to keep their masters in power.