Pajamas Media – –
By Alex Traiman
March 12, 2011
The acronym RPM, or revolutions per minute, typically refers to the speed in which an aut
omotive engine rotates. RPMs play a role in how much gasoline is consumed by your car. Today, that acronym may have an even more important impact on oil consumption.
Revolutions are rapidly gaining speed across the Muslim world. The world has watched Tunisia and Egypt oust their dictators in the revolutionary wave that is sweeping across the Muslim world during this unique moment or minute in history.
Libya is the latest country to take on a revolution, as oppressed citizens across three continents are beginning to recognize that they no longer need to submit themselves to the likes of brutal tyrants.
As the revolutionary process is unscripted it is neither necessary nor productive for America to remain as innocent bystanders with so much at stake.
The larger picture demonstrates that many dictatorial regimes, and especially those across the Middle East, are ready to collapse. And some of these regimes have more impact than others. Until just a few weeks ago, Egypt was seen by many as a stabilizing force in an instable region. Libya and Tunisia were less powerful players on the world stage.
Iran, on the other hand, has been a powerful force driving instability across the region.
And the regime in Tehran has worked hard to establish that position, using its petrodollars as leverage to export its ideology.
The regime in Tehran has been fighting against American interests since the siege of the U.S. embassy in 1979.
Today, Iran is directly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of U.S. servicemen by training, leading, and providing weapons to insurgents within Iraq. Similarly, Iran has been labeled by the State Department as the world’s leading state-sponsor of terror for providing abundant funding to Hezbollah and Hamas, two highly radicalized terrorist organizations with international reaches.
Did I mention that Iran is rapidly trying to develop nuclear weapons, illegally?
America had the right to be fed up with this regime’s antics long ago.
Fortunately, today Iran’s citizens are fed up as well. Like other regimes in the region, such as that of Libya’s Mu’amar Gaddafi, the regime in Tehran is notorious for brutality and suppressing the rights of its people. Per capita, Iran executes more citizens annually than any other nation in the world. And let’s not even get in to the regime’s treatment of women.
Ever since the fraudulent reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June 2009, Iranian citizens have mounted a growing opposition to the regime. And despite violent efforts to suppress the will of protestors, the Iranian people are demonstrating patience and resolve in their quest to overthrow their dictators.
And that puts the United States in a unique position. Having an effective strategy to support the Iranian people in their efforts to take their country back can accomplish several important feats at the same time.
Aiding Iran’s revolution can help free Iranians from decades of brutality, can speed up our exit strategy in Iraq, can cut off funding to international terror groups, can further protect oil interests, and can help ensure that the world’s largest Shiite nation is handed over to an Iranian opposition that is nowhere near as radical as the current leaders.
Iran’s opposition looks very different than the opposition within Egypt.
While Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak was nothing short of a militaristic dictator, he was secular, promoted a long-term stalemate with Israel, and was not radicalized in comparison with one of Egypt’s best known opposition groups, the Muslim Brotherhood.
In Iran, the regime constitutes the nation’s most extreme religious element. Many of Iran’s most respected ayatollahs are serving life sentences of house arrest (or worse) for correctly stating that the regime’s ideology is a radical and politicized deviation from traditional Shiite faith. Within Iran, it is the opposition that is predominantly secular and seeks to return a scarred Iran to its rightful place in the community of nations.
Should the regime in Iran prevail, and withstand the ongoing revolutionary wave through whatever means necessary — probably by murdering thousands of citizens — the greater Middle East and even the United States may pay a heavy price.
Iraq may fall into the cunning grip of Iran, as may Bahrain where America’s Fifth Naval Fleet currently resides. Iran would likely continue to arm and fund Hezbollah and Hamas, which could send the Middle East into regional war. Oil prices could rise to levels that make today’s prices seem like bargain shopping. And Iran would undoubtedly proceed closer towards its aspirations of becoming a nuclear power.
And Iran also has excellent relations with Egypt’s Sunni Muslim Brotherhood. Egypt’s rising opposition leader, Mohammed ElBaradei, who many mistakenly label a moderate despite his praise of the Brotherhood, worked for years to cover up Iran’s nuclear development as the chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency. It has been alleged that ElBaradei was on the Iranian payroll throughout the process.
Should Egypt fall into the hands of the Brotherhood, while Iran maintains its power, the Middle East could fall further under the umbrella of Iranian influence.
The question then is: how can we help Iranian opposition forces succeed?
First and foremost is moral support. As in the other nations that are challenging their regimes in the Muslim world, the Iranian people are taking to the streets to oust their leaders. And the brave protestors who are risking their lives in their quest for freedom are looking to America and the West to see where our loyalties lie.
Our loyalties should lie with the democratic movement.
Second, we must understand the historic urgency of the moment at hand. We must support the protests now, not only because history is mandating an overthrow of dictatorial regimes. We must support the overthrow of the Iranian regime because that regime is on the cusp of acquiring nuclear weapons.
If Iran’s regime is murderous today, just wait until they have a deployable nuclear arsenal. The terror campaign we have witnessed for thirty plus years may be just the beginning — even if Iran only uses its weapons as leverage.
Just the threat of Iranian nuclear weapons alone is enough to affect the foreign policies of nations in the region and beyond.
Americans must come to the conclusion that it is 100 percent unacceptable for Iran to cross the nuclear threshold. Public opinion is not there yet, and it needs to get there quickly.
Once the urgency of the situation is recognized, citizens can demand more of the president and the Congress. President Obama was painfully silent during revolutionary street protests in Tehran in June 2009. He must not make that same mistake again.
And the funding of Iran’s regime must be cut off, completely. Powerful sanctions legislation against Iran was passed in 2010. But that legislation is not being enforced. Companies that continue to do business with Iran must be given a clear choice: to do business with Iran, or to do banking with the United States. Corporations cannot have their cake and eat it too.
The enforcement of strong sanctions can create an economic situation so difficult that Iran could no longer pay the salaries of its loyal shock troops, the Revolutionary Guards. Without the force that protects Iran’s leaders, Iranians could flock to the streets in droves to demand that their regime go packing.
An exit would be getting off easy for the supreme leader and president of Iran. After years of brutality and terror, they deserve a fate much more severe.
It is as important as ever to optimize the speed of our diplomatic engine, and help tip yet another revolution during this opportune moment in history.
Alex Traiman is the director of the documentary Iranium, focusing on the ideology guiding Iran’s leaders and the threats posed by an Iranian nuclear arsenal.
This article was originally published here.