Bringing Down Iran

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The administration is also putting its money where its rhetoric is. On Tuesday, Secretary Clinton gave a speech lauding Internet freedom and warning autocratic regimes around the world that attempts to limit free access to the Internet will not only fail, but will backfire by provoking and emboldening restless populations. While the remarks had been scheduled for several weeks, the timing is fortuitous, as the secretary’s words are given great weight by the role of online communications and social media in bringing down the Tunisian and Egyptian governments and helping Iranian dissidents communicate. Egypt attempted at times to disrupt the protests by shutting down the Internet, and Iran has long sought to block online tools that could threaten the regime.

Accordingly, Secretary Clinton pledged $25-million for developing technologies to let activists and dissidents evade government-imposed restrictions on online communication, enabling both the co-ordination of protests and communication with the Western world. While a small dollar figure, the Internet is an asymmetrical weapon aimed at the heart of autocratic regimes — billions can be spent on restricting Internet freedom, and it will all be wasted if one blogger can bypass the roadblocks and communicate to the outside world what is happening behind these electronic iron curtains. Governments that seek to oppress their people by limiting their access to the Internet are fighting a losing battle, and a small investment by America, spent wisely, could very well yield big results.

As a tense new day dawns in Iran and protests spread across the Arab world, the United States has recovered from its early missteps and taken a measured, and appropriate, stand on the side of the people of Iran. With new digital tools to back up its diplomatic stance, the United States is finally giving the Iranian regime and their nuclear-obsessed madmen something real to worry about. Let’s hope the administration doesn’t waver and continues along this course.

Matt Gurney is an editor at the National Post, a Canadian national newspaper, and writes and speaks on military and geopolitical issues. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @mattgurney.

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  • Bert

    I remain very skeptical of Obama's sincerity on Iran. He seems to offer the bare minimum response to avoid the image of obvious support of the Mullahs. There were reports that Obama was in touch with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt early on and he followed up with pressure for them to be included in the new government. There is no equivalent pressure from Obama in the case of Iran to include the Iranian reformers in their government. And all this with the background of Obama seizing more undemocratic control right here in America.

  • Jim C.

    Bert, surely you must realize that being too vocal in support of ACTUAL Iranian reformers can lead to a twofold trap. 1. As is the case with so much of the Middle East, "Be careful what you wish for–you just might get it." In other words, you might be supporting suppressive theocratic rule under a different name. 2. I am well aware there are legitimate democratic reformers in Iran; but I would also worry that if it were preceived that those reformers had U.S. backing, there would suddenly be a lot of dead bodies all over the place.

    If we have learned anything about monkeying in Middle Eastern affairs, it is that it is always a much wiser position to support democratic reform in general terms, rather than specific terms–and let the people in that country figure out the specifics and do the heavy lifting.

  • BLJ

    I trust Chairman O about as much as I do the mullah's that run that place. Chairman O does whatever his boss (George Soros) tells him to do.

  • Jay

    It would not be wise for Obama (or any other President) to lead criticism of the regime in Tehran. The Islamists (with some justification) portrayed the Shah as a puppet of Washington and like to dismiss internal dissent as CIA backed propaganda. As much as I disagree with this President on many issues, I hope he continues to engage this situation delicately.

    • USMCSniper

      Yes, we must not have the Mullahs upset with us now must we? They already hate western civilization and want to destroy it, and Iran is the prime sponsor of and trainer of terrorists that include Hamas, Hezbolla, the Palestinians, the Taliban, and elements of al Qaeda. the clandestine Muslim Obama will spread buttock cheeks and press lips to hemmorioids of the Muslim Arab world in private while he spew forth words of mild condemnation publically for public consumption that the mainstream media will slurp up with adoring eyes like the lap dogs they be.

  • waterwillows

    Maybe another Wikileaks might inform the public of what was really said from the WH?
    That might just be the only way we could get an accurate account from this dense, cloudly administration.

  • Marmaduke

    Be careful. stage one was to allow all these third world countries to become independent after 1948, that is with our CIA Ford Foundation installed dictators approved and aided by our British allies. We kept out the Communistis and faced down the Islamists. Maybe we are selling freedom and democracy to get them to now colapse from the inside as we ran out of foriegn aid money to buy peace and protection. These third world countries don't know that this first world country is beyond broke and borrowed out but also this free country has more police agencies than any country in the world. The US can be restored with the right people.

  • felsen_stark

    During the protests of 2009, students, mostly students were openingly chanting anti-Islamic slogans. Discussions of discarding their Arab originated names were common… they refused any foreign support, saying they would view offers of support as acts of wars, they were confident they could oust the mullahs alone and they were of course mistaken. We have nothing to lose by openingly and vigorously supporting them now and neither do they.

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