Wolfowitz on Iran democracy
One of the more startling commentaries on what Obama should do about Iran has come from Paul Wolfowitz, former Deputy Secretary of Defense under Donald Rumsfeld.
Wolfowitz was a prime architect of the Iraq war, believing democracy would come easilly to that country. In Nov. 2002 he told me in an interview that post-Saddam Iraq (following our ouster of the dictator) would be like post-liberation (World War II) France. In other words, a DeGaulle figure - in this case Wolfowitz' friend Ahmed Chalabi, would return to Baghdad, as DeGaulle returned to France after liberation, and would be welcomed by millions en route. Then Chalabi/DeGaulle would establish democracy and the Americans could go home.
This stunning lack of comprehension about Iraq's history, culture and politics, should make Wolfowitz modest about prescribing policy for Iran. But no, this time he compares Iran to the Philippines, where US backing for people power helped oust Ferdinand Marcos.
If Wolfowitz really thinks there is a comparison between the US relationship with Manila, where we had enormous influence with Marcos and widespread popularity across the country, and the U.S. relationship with Tehran - where an open endorsement of opposition leaders would give a hostile regime the perfect opening to dismiss them as CIA stooges - then he understands Iran just as well as he did Iraq.
Obama has already declared support for Iranians' right to express themselves freely, without any violent crackdown. If the regime pulls a Tiananmen Square crackdown, he will have to condemn this strongly, and to recognize that "engagement" won't yield the changes he hoped for.
But strong US support for Musavi won't help the demonstrators; this is an Iranian struggle that will have to be waged and won by Iranians. Just as Chalabi wasn't DeGaulle, Khamenei is not Marcos. Read some history, Mr. Wolfowitz, pleade!