Thinking Creatively – Not Boneheadedly – About Iran

green movementThe Washington Times has a pretty nutty editorial on Iran today based upon a speech given by J. Michael Waller. Who is Waller? In addition to being a professor at the Institute for World Politics, he’s also the “Vice President for Information Operations” at the Center for Security Policy, the think tank run by leading neocon goofball Frank Gaffney.

The editorial passes along a number of Waller’s assertions about the state of Iranian politics, such as his claim that, after the “proper preparation,” a new Iranian revolution “could happen in a matter of days” with U.S. help:

Mr. Waller says he thinks the United States could facilitate an uprising in Tehran with comparatively little effort. Washington could help the opposition communicate with inexpensive prepaid cell phones and proxy Internet servers and supply Flip video cameras and other means of recording and publicizing the course of the rebellion. Voice of America’s Persian News Network could focus reports on regime misdeeds and spread inspirational accounts of insiders turning against the power structure in hopes that others might join them. Tehran’s state-controlled media regularly ignore such stories, so VOA would report, and the Iranian people would decide.

Most important, the United States could supply strong moral support. A critical factor keeping Iranians from making a decisive move against the theocracy’s religious leadership is a sense of doubt that America would back their play. A clear signal to Iranian dissidents that Washington would support a revolt would go a long way toward making it happen.

So, according to Waller, not only would overthrowing the Iranian regime be a cakewalk, it’s actually the lack of U.S. support that’s preventing this quick and easy revolution. These are bold claims. One might expect them to be backed up by evidence. One would be disappointed. (You can understand the propaganda strategy, though: If a new revolution doesn’t come, it will be Barack Obama’s fault.)

The Washington Times has editorialized at various times in favor of bombing Iran. Given that bombing Iran would be a great way to end Iran’s democratic opposition movement, does the Times’ support for that movement now indicate they no longer support bombing Iran? They should clarify.

While I find Waller’s diagnosis of the current state of play in Iran pretty daft — it’s pretty clear that the Iranian regime is experiencing a crisis of legitimacy, but such regimes have unfortunately been able to grind on for decades, and nothing I’ve seen, read, nor heard indicates that this one is about to fall — I do agree that providing moral support and facilitating the Iranian opposition’s access to communications technology are things the U.S. government needs to be thinking about much more creatively.

For a more serious discussion of the current state of affairs in Iran, including recommendations for U.S. options in the face of Iran’s shifting domestic political environment, check out this new report (pdf) jointly issued by the Century Foundation’s InsideIran project and National Security Network. Or watch a video of yesterday’s panel discussion of the report (moderated by your humble blogger) at the Center for American Progress.