The Iranian government has not always been what it is today. Until 1979, Iran was actually the most Westernized and modern, yet friendly dictatorship in the Middle East. The Middle East is largely more dictatorial than democratic, but the degree that it is Westernized is quite important. Outside of Israel, the two countries that have a stronger history of democracy than any other countries in the Middle East are Iran and Lebanon. It is ironic that those two countries now pose the greatest threats to Israel. This is all due to the Iranian revolution of the Ayatollahs in 1979.
Things change. It often seems that there is no way that the Middle East could be dominated by Democratic forces. But in the 60’s, 70’s, and even the 80’s, nobody foresaw that the Soviet Union could crumble the way that it did. Of course, the forces of communism did not just disappear overnight. But the threats of world takeover basically did. And over the last few decades, the forces of democratization are more powerful in the former Soviet Union than the forces of Communism. Today, a person who travels in Poland, Rumania, Georgia, and other places formerly under Soviet domination, will feel like they are in a Western democracy. But what is really going on is that these countries are becoming more and more Westernized and less totalitarian with every decade.
This can happen in the Middle East – as long as the United States makes sure that the freedom fighters in these countries have the United States backing them. When the Iranian protesters hit the streets in Iran during the Obama administration, Obama watched and barely did anything. That was the worst option. Any time there is a spark of hope for a major transformation in the direction of democracy, the US needs to step in and put all of their economic muscle behind the movements.
It’s not too late at all to set things in motion. This can happen – in our lifetime. What is needed is much more than a peace treaty photo-op. What is needed are genuine changes in the minds of the masses that will translate to fundamental shifts from totalitarianism to democracy.