June 2009

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The unrest in Iran is moving toward full-fledged revolution. I think something big is happening there that will have great implications for the coming century. As I mentioned before, I give some credit to Obama. But I have to give some to George W. Bush too. You can bet the Iranians have been watching as freedom has been brewing for the Iraqis. The Iranians must have been thinking, “What about us? If they can be free, why can’t we?” This is one big reason why I supported the invasion of Iraq. (Though Dubya’s execution of the occupation was disastrous.)

You can give away bits of freedom, but once given away you can’t take them back, however small. Iran gave its people elections. Elections with lots of rules, such as candidates picked by the regime. But within that structure, there were elections. And when that freedom was taken away, the people fought back.

And now that the people are rising up in theocratic, authoritarian Iran, how many other oppressed peoples around the world are thinking, “What about us?”

Another Jefferson quote seems apt: “The ball of liberty, I believe most piously, is now so well in motion that it will roll around the globe.”

Jefferson was right. The ball is just rolling a bit more slowly than he expected.

During all this internet coverage of the turmoil in Iran, someone reported that the Iranian authorities were tracking down and shutting down Twitter accounts based on the time zone and registered city of the Twitter user. So somebody suggested that EVERYONE on Twitter change their registration to Tehran and that time zone.

I love this idea, it’s an “I am Spartacus” move for the 21st century.

Activists in Iran are showing incredible courage in fighting their tyrannical government. Andrew Sullivan has been doing some great coverage of this nascent revolution on his blog. There is also some good information on The Lede blog in the NY Times.

Thomas Jefferson said, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” Of course, it’s easy for me to throw around quotes. It’s not my blood that is being shed. Iranians are dying right now as they fight for liberty.

How much did Obama’s election have to do with all this? I think a lot. Here’s another Jefferson quote, something he said to his buddy Lafayette: “The disease of liberty is catching; those armies will take it in the south, carry it thence to their own country, spread there the infection of revolution and representative government, and raise its people from the prone condition of brutes to the erect altitude of man.”

The tree of liberty also needs to be refreshed from time to time with the excitement of an energized electorate. That’s what Obama did for us here in the United States and the world was watching.

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