Imagining Iran is the USSR

VERY interesting take on what the White House is thinking about Iran, via the New York Daily News:

Pentagon neoconservatives – hard-liners who include Rumsfeld and his deputy Paul Wolfowitz – believe that surgical strikes on a small list of military targets will minimize civilian casualties and may spark an uprising by reformers against the ruling fundamentalist mullahs, current and ex-officials said.

Hersh told CNN that if targets are lined up by this summer, U.S. attacks could soon follow.

They “want to go into Iran and destroy as much of the military infrastructure as possible,” a Pentagon consultant told Hersh.

Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz believe that, just as with some Soviet-bloc countries, “the minute the aura of invincibility the mullahs enjoy is shattered … the Iranian regime will collapse,” the consultant said.

Yet Rep. Peter King (R-L.I.) of the House International Relations Committee said, “I wouldn’t assume the Iranian regime will just collapse.”

With combat operations still raging in Afghanistan and Iraq, where the hunt for weapons of mass destruction came up empty, Bush would have to explain fully a new call for military action against Iran, King said.

“He’d have to get the people behind it,” King told the Daily News. “But you’d have to factor in that the American public would be somewhat suspicious.”

But Bush aides are “compulsively optimistic” that the mullahs have a fragile hold on power, and they are sure to strike soon, predicted defense analyst John Pike of

They’re clinging to the “Reagan defeated the USSR, we can do the same thing” myth. The thing is, Reagan didn’t defeat the USSR. The USSR changed from within. We didn’t demonstrate the hard liners’ fragile hold on power in the USSR by bombing it. If we had, the Earth would probably be a lot less populated and a lot more radioactive today.

In fact, that most important thing in the dismantling of the Soviet regime, according to Michael Nagler, an expert on nonviolent action, was that there were thousands of well trained nonviolent activists throughout the Soviet Union, ready to act in case of a coup by hard-liners against Gorbachev. The coup came. The tanks rolled. The nonviolent resisters came out in droves and opposed the tanks, putting their lives on the line. The tanks stopped. It was over. If they had run from the tanks, or fought the tanks, we might still have a USSR around today.

And Reagan and the American military had NOTHING TO DO WITH ANY OF THIS.

We could probably overthrow the worst of the Fundamentalist mullahs who run Iran. We could train the people of Iran in nonviolent resistance. That is what changed India. That is what changed America. That is what made the change in Russia permanent.

But nonviolence is not a tool that America has learned to use yet, despite its demonstrated power. It’s not even in our consciousness, which is why the nonviolent resisters in Russia were barely covered by American media and are still unknown to most people in the West outside activists and theorists of nonviolent action, like Nagler.