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February 19, 2004
'I would live in America, no problem'

The Telegraph publishes this remarkable statement from an unnamed Iranian Republican Guard soldier stationed at the old American embassy in Teheran:

"I would live in America, no problem," said one 22-year-old, who added that he associated the country with "love and freedom".

Nearby, "Down with USA" was painted on the wall in garish red and yellow hues.

Another guard, also in his 20s, added: "Our government has one view of America but the people have another. Our government tries to show the US as an enemy of our country and of our people. All of the young believe the US is good. Most of the people believe this."

Why were these young men standing guard over our old embassy in Teheran? The Iranian government, controlled by radical mullahs since Ruhollah Khomeini since the Islamic Revolution began 25 years ago this month, had turned the building into a museum dedicated to American "crimes", complete with ghastly symbolism:

A miniature Statue of Liberty planted on the embassy's lawn wears the grotesque face of a skull and bare ribs protrude from her shrunken chest. The bald eagle crest that once adorned the gates has disappeared, defaced by countless hammers and chisels.

But today the museum is virtually defunct. It opens only on selected anniversaries, chiefly for the benefit of foreign visitors.

It is a measure how far the prestige of the mullahocracy has fallen in 25 years that this monument has been left to wither on the vine, of interest to only non-Iranians, and guarded by the youth that rejects its message as the Iranian ruling class tries to pretend that nothing has changed since the heady days of 1979. In the upcoming elections, the official estimate puts the turnout for the upcoming vote at 30 percent, less than half of the 67 percent that voted in the last election, and with the mullahs disqualifying most of the reformist candidates, that may be a generous prediction.

Iran appears ready to collapse from within, and rather than pursuing a policy of normalization with the present ruling class, we should instead continue to passively isolate Iran until the younger generation seizes power on its own. Any other policy, such as the engagement that John Kerry promises and Colin Powell suggests, only serves to embolden the Supreme Council and demoralize the agents of true change and liberation in Iran. If people don't remember anything else, they should remember this one fact: the mullahs are not our friends. The 22-year-old Guard member who wants nothing more than the ability to see America ... that's our friend. Let's not let our friends down.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 19, 2004 11:14 PM

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