There is no formula for undermining a decrepit regime. And there are no circumstances in which the United States has been able to peacefully play a leading role in another nation’s revolution. But there are many tools this nation has used to support indigenous democrats: independent media, technical advice, economic and cultural sanctions, presidential visits for key dissidents, the unapologetic embrace of democratic values, the unapologetic condemnation of the regime’s barbarities.
Recently, many people thought it was clever to say that elections on their own don’t make democracies. But election campaigns stoke the mind and fraudulent elections outrage the soul. The Iranian elections have stirred a whirlwind that will lead, someday, to the regime’s collapse. Hastening that day is now the central goal.