A torn election poster (Morteza Nikoubazl / Courtesy Reuters)

In their response to my article, “Tehran Takedown,” James Dobbins and Alireza Nader agree with my assertion that supporting democracy in Iran would be a good thing. But they are not optimistic about the Iranian opposition’s chances for success, or very ambitious in their suggestions for U.S. policy. Indeed, they write that “almost the only . . . concrete thing” the United States can do is “support those transitions already underway” in the Middle East. Dobbins and Nader hope that Iranians will simply emulate the successful uprisings of the Arab Spring.

Certainly, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s fall from power would be a tremendous blow to the Iranian regime. And perhaps Iranians would take the opportunity to rise up. But the other cases are less clear. Iranians hardly need others -- whatever their religious or political convictions -- to convince them that they

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