Yesterday evening Bret Stephens, foreign affairs columnist for The Wall Street Journal, shared some fascinating comments about the bravery of Iranians who are giving their lives for freedom in protest of a corrupt and vicious regime.
"What began as a dispute about inherently corrupt elections ... has become a frontal assault on the regime itself," Stephens told the crowd of approximately 700 in Manhattan. "We should be vocally supporting the [Iranian] protesters."
Regarding the security of the free world, Stephens said, "Assurance does not lie in diplomacy ... or a military strike. The only way we will have security is if the nature of the regime changes."
He continued, "The threat of a nuclear war only ended with the end of the Soviet Union, and that's the only reasonable way [the threat of a nuclear armed Iran] is going to end."
In his comments, Stephens echoed the great Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky: people will not be peaceful if they have no stake in their own lives or, in other words, are not free. In his book The Case for Democracy: the Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror, Sharansky, who was imprisoned as a dissident for nine years in the former Soviet Union and eventually served as a minister in the Israeli government, explained that fear societies require brutal measures to suppress their populations. They also require external scapegoats. Hence no world in which tyrants rule by brutal intimidation can be safe for people who are democratically governed, because tyrannical societies are belligerent by nature. They must be, in order to defuse their people's misery and frustration.
In contrast, when people are allowed to share ideas freely, to enjoy the fruits of their own labors and invest in the futures of their children, to have a stake in their own government, to receive a real education, in short, to have a better and more self-determined life, they will not obediently march off to kill an imaginary enemy at the whim of a dictator. Nor will they be as easily brainwashed.
What is unfolding today in Iran may be the beginning of the crumbling of a fear society.
President Obama has thus far not come out firmly in support of the Iranian demonstrators; this is a mistake. He of all people should understand the vital need to support those willing to die for the hope that their children will live in freedom.
We should do all we can to support those in Iran who are risking their lives for freedom. One way is by doing our little part to keep lines of communication open. Since the mullahs are clamping down on communications, one of the only means of sending messages has been via Twitter.
Yesterday evening a tech-savvy friend shared with me this moving message an Iranian protestor sent via Twitter: "I realized I do not fear death. I fear my daughter will not be free when I die."