While the antics of Mark Sanford and Norm Coleman's belated concession have lately dominated the conversation here in the US, it should be noted that the situation in Iran is far from resolved. The street protests may have ended (or hopefully begun their evolution into whatever next stage they will take), but the Basij militias today have called for an investigation into opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi's role in the demonstrations. The Basij are a scary bunch, civilian volunteers who sign up to enforce morals codes, spy on their neighbors and, if ordered, beat them to death. Civilian militias of this kind are common in totalitarian states, one could say they are a necessary feature of them. In any case, they are very influential in Iran and they claim to have lost several of their number during the demonstrations.
Should their demands for an investigation of Mousavi result in action being taken against him we can expect more calls from the conservative pundits here in the US for Obama to "do something." What he should do, however, is unclear. Invade? With what army? Cut off diplomatic ties? Really? With country that has nuclear ambitions and a massive army that shares a border with a country we're currently occupying? Bomb them? Maybe. Nothing shows your solidarity with an oppressed nation's common folk like collateral damage. It's kind of funny how conservatives in the US claim to be all about realpolitik but they throw the "real" out the window at the first chance to wave a cruise missile at someone.
For the record, I support Mousavi, if for no other reason than he supports complete freedom of the press in Iran, something I think will do the Iranian people far more good than any help we can offer. But if you look at his platform, you realize this is not someone who considers the US a friend, or even sees any change in relations between Iran and the United States as likely:
"The US has changed its tone. Starting relations with the US is not a taboo, should they practically change their stance."
"Iran is not a friend of the US, but America is an influential country in the world with great economic and military capabilities. It is right that we are a powerful nation, but our power should not lead us to act unreasonably. We can not face the US alone. "
He's not even prepared to give up their nuclear program:
It's not surprising that we're paying more attention to the electoral crisis in Iran than other, similar crises around the world, considering that they are major player in a volatile region where we have a lot of troops in harm's way. But we do have to offer up some consistency in our arguments. A democratically elected government in Honduras was just overthrown and nobody said "Boo." I take that back - a number of conservative pundits actually celebrated the coup, because they saw it as a setback to Hugo Chavez, with Charles Krauthammer going so far as to say of ousted Honduran President Zelaya, "Yes he was elected, but Hitler was as well, and Chávez also was elected." Talk like this isn't going to make us into the beacon of hope John McCain insists we were for the German citizens who took sledgehammers to the Berlin Wall (and the East German leaders who decided not to shoot them, or Gorbachev who decided not to roll the tanks in).
Although there is one thing we can do to make ourselves into a beacon of hope for the Iranian demonstrators now facing arrest (and worse) for their actions: we need to make sure shit like this never happens again. And it wouldn't hurt to round up the people who ordered it, too.