Wanted: Hopenchange for Iran

Someday a future president may have to apologize to Iranians for Mr. Obama’s nonfeasance, just as Mr. Obama apologized for the Eisenhower administration’s meddling. But the better Eisenhower parallel is with Hungary in 1956. Then as now a popular uprising coalesced around a figure (Imre Nagy in Hungary; Mir Hossein Mousavi in Iran), who had once been a creature of the system. Then as now it was buoyed by inspiring American rhetoric about freedom and democracy coming over Voice of America airwaves.

And then as now the administration effectively turned its back on the uprising when U.S. support could have made a difference. Hungary would spend the next 33 years in the Soviet embrace. One senses a similar fate for Iran, where Mr. Ahmadinejad’s “victory” signals the ultimate ascendancy of the ultra-militants in the Revolutionary Guards Corps and the paramilitary Basij, intent on getting what they want and doing as they please even in defiance of their old clerical masters. Which means: Get ready for a second installment of the Iranian cultural revolution. Mr. Ahmadinejad signaled as much when he promised to go after the corrupt elements of the old regime, particularly the circle around former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who openly opposed the incumbent prior to Friday’s poll.

As for the hope — expressed over the weekend by one unnamed senior U.S. administration official to the New York Times — that Mr. Ahmadinejad would moderate his course in foreign policy to allay concerns about his legitimacy, the president made his views plain on Sunday. “It’s not true,” he said. “I’m going to be more and more solid.”

Those are words for Mr. Obama to ponder. Rarely in U.S. history has a foreign policy course been as thoroughly repudiated by events as his approach to Iran in his first months in office.