"They Are Just Like Us"

Yes, yes, a million times yes.

The clue lies in a single, almost heartbreaking, detail, tucked inside the reports of Iran's presidential election. Mir Hossein Mousavi - the dry, bureaucratic insider who became the unlikely hero of the reformist protesters - is not a charismatic man. But he did one truly eloquent thing. He held hands with his wife in public. He held his wife's hand. In public.

It makes you weep for a society in which that seems daring. But it turns out that for millions of people it was the hopeful sign they had been awaiting. It was a tiny crack in the dam. It was light in the darkness, a small battery torch of light, but light all the same.

For years we have been told, we neocons, that other cultures don't want our liberty, our American freedom. Yankee go home! But it isn't true. Because millions of Iranians do want it. Yes, they want their sovereignty, and demand respect for their nation and its great history. No, they don't want foreign interference and manipulation. But they still insist upon their rights and their freedom. They know that liberty isn't American or British. It is Iranian, it is human.


But the frustrating truth is that there are limits to what can be achieved by outsiders. Instead we have to wait as national movements, one by one, stand up for their rights. And sometimes, tragically, we even have to stand aside as those movements are crushed by their oppressors.

We may now see that happen in Iran. But at least we know this. The people of Iran might not get what we have. But in their millions, that is what they want. Really, they are just like us.

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