While some have compared the rise of Islamofasctic Iran in the current decade to the rise of Nazi Germany in the 1930s, there is one major difference. Within eighteen months of taking power, Hitler had succeeding in snuffing out all opposition (quite literally because it was the murderous “Night of the Long Knives” at the end of June and beginning of July, 1934 that marked his total consolidation of power).
While Hitler never allowed a free and fair general election after he had taken power (though some might call the March 1933 elections free), he likely would have survived any plebiscite held in Germany in all twelve years of his “Reich.” Not so with the Iranian mullahs. Were it not for fraud, they would have lost the elections this past June. And with the subsequent protests, the tyrants feared something which barely concerned Hitler after he had dispatched Ernst Röhm on July 2, 1934, the undermining of his regime from within:
The fraudulent presidential election in June and the subsequent mass demonstrations produced the biggest regime crisis in years. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei must have been panicked at the prospect of losing control — and with reason.
Thus, Robert Kagan, who penned those words above, contends since the election, the regime’s “overriding goal since the election . . . has been to buy time and try to reestablish and consolidate control without any foreign interference in its internal affairs.” He suggests then the President focus “on the regime’s instability,” ignoring “the nukes”, while pushing “crippling” sanctions which “could help the Iranian opposition topple these still-vulnerable rulers”:
The government’s behavior during and after the election has opened an irreparable breach between the regime and large elements of Iranian society, and even within the clerical ranks. The government may succeed in clamping down on the opposition and driving it underground. But the notion that the Iranian opposition will suddenly rally around Ahmadinejad and Khamenei if the West imposes sanctions is absurd.
With protests continuing more than three months after the fraudulent elections, it’s clear that the regime’s repressive measures have failed to dampen the spirit of the people. Yet, the Obama Administration has acted as if their movement for change were a distraction from its foreign policy goals. As Jennifer Rubin observes:
Its rationale for muteness during the protests was a mix of fatalism and misguided optimism. The protesters are sure to lose–and we need the regime to stabilize to make that grand bargain. Well, it wasn’t well thought out, but the implications were clear. We wouldn’t exploit the regime’s instability. Nothing would be done to endanger our ability to enter talks with a regime we knew to be cheating on existing sanctions.
With popular support for the regime ebbing, as was never the case in Nazi Germany, there’s no need to be fatalistic. The Iranian people are our best ally against a bellicose regime determined to acquire nuclear weapons in a way the German people never could have been.
We must thus develop strategies to work with the Iranian people to help undermine the hegemonic intentions of a regime committed to our destruction.