Keep Your Eyes on Iran’s Security Forces

This post was written by Dr. Art Pitz on June 24, 2009
Posted Under: Civil Rights, Middle East

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In the midst of the current crisis in Iran, it would be easy to be thoroughly confused.  There is always a certain degree of fog in such a situation.

 

Cover of Khandaniha weekly during Iranian Revolution in 1979 (from Kebria's photostream under Creative Commons license)

Cover of Khandaniha weekly during Iranian Revolution in 1979 (from Kebria's photostream under Creative Commons license)

Protests can bring down regimes especially if the security forces disobey orders and/or go over to the side of the protestors or are not called on at all by the authorities.  That’s what happened with Iran under the Shah in 1979.  They refused to continue to use massive violence against the huge protests. 

Remember the collapse of the wall in Berlin in 1989.  Gorbachev decided not to send in the tanks—as Stalin or Brezhnev certainly would have done.  Louis XVI’s security broke down in the early stages of the French Revolution.  The Tsar’s apparatus disintegrated in 1917.

There are so many examples from history of events like this.  The regime in Ukraine fell apart just a few years ago due to huge protests.  Solidarity’s actions in Poland led to the collapse of communism there.  Segregation in the South came unglued due to the use of excessive force by Bull Connor in Birmingham.

Before you get too hopeful about all this, however, we must remember that not all large protests succeed.  Who can forget Tiananmen Square in China?  Or, few remember that King’s protests didn’t work in Albany, Georgia or in Chicago.  Coxey’s “Army” garnered no positive results from the administration in D.C. in 1894.  Neither the Bonus March or Hoovervilles inspired President Hoover to undertake large scale relief for the unemployed.

So, as you watch this Iranian crisis unfold, see what those with the weapons do.

Dr. Art Pitz
The Professor’s House
Know the History—Understand the Choices

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