Iran's Lessons

Perhaps the most remarkable features of the 'green' movement in Iran has been its discipline and its peacefulness. Sully posted a picture earlier today of a small sign in Farsi, quoting Gandhi:

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

I think it's safe to say that they've reached the third stage of Gandhi's formula, and yet the discipline remains. The rallies, the protests, have been almost universally non-violent, and the 'mourning protests' that are beginning to coalesce around the funerals of the slain will almost certainly be peaceful (just as they were in 1979).

This was Gandhi's blueprint, and Dr. King's. And if your opponent is capable of feeling shame and remorse, can empathize with you, it can be your most powerful weapon. If you can't defeat your opponent on the battlefield, get your opponent to lay down his arms.

It is also decidedly not the blueprint of Hamas.

If the green revolution succeeds in not just toppling Ahmadinejad but in transforming the country, and in giving Iranians more freedom than they could have imagined even a year ago, will the Palestinians pay attention?

As Matt Yglesias pointed out,

The bet is that when push comes to shove, people in the Iranian security forces have some humane and patriotic instincts and will recoil from the idea of using mass violence against their fellow citizens. And it’s a terrifying bet. We’ve seen time and again that it’s a bet that often pays off, but as we learned in China 20 years ago there are no guarantees.
The biggest difference between 1989 and 2009, however, is technological. It's that much harder to repress a popular movement in secret when the movement can so easily attract the eyes of the world.

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