I hope Iran policy makers in Washington and Europe are reading histories of that world-changing year, 1989. I hope so because the time has come to do nothing in Iran.
As Timothy Garton Ash has written of the year Europe was freed, “For the decisive nine months, from the beginning of Poland’s roundtable talks in February to the fall of the Wall in November, the United States’ contribution lay mainly in what it did not do.”
That inaction reflected the first President Bush’s caution and calculations. Its effect was to deprive hardliners in Moscow of an American scapegoat for Eastern European agitation and allow revolutionary events to run their course.
The main difference between Moscow 1989 and Tehran 2009 is that the Islamic Republic is still ready to open fire. The main similarities are obvious: tired ideologies; regimes and societies marching in opposite directions; and spreading dissent both within the power apparatus and among the opposition. [continued…]