To the editor:
In reviewing Kenneth M. Pollack’s The Ayatollah Puzzle, Sohrab Ahmari says “The book’s most compelling section contends, convincingly, that the West should attempt to foment revolution inside
by supporting dissidents . . .”
This is a terrible idea. It is much easier to overthrow a regime we regard as bad than it is to replace it with something that is better, as we have seen in
and (prospectively) Syria. This is true whether the overthrow is brought
about by the U.S.
military or by armed insurgents.
Such overthrows have not furthered
interests and cannot be justified as “humanitarian” on behalf of the local
populations. Saddam Hussein’s regime
was horrible, and Husssein killed a lot
of “his own” people to preserve his rule.
But now that he is gone life in Iraq
is even more precarious as various factions that he had been able to repress
are now free to bomb weddings,
funerals, and everywhere else
innocent civilians gather.
should refrain from encouraging violent overthrows of existing regimes, no matter how bad. We should instead root for reformers. Even very bad regimes can be reformed from
within, as we saw in the U.S.S.R. and South
Given our bad image in
Iran, we should not handicap dissidents who are
seeking peaceful reforms by “supporting” them.
With friends like us, they would
not need enemies.