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Op-Ed: Speak Out For Iran And It's Democracy


Location: Unknown

By John McCain

The Arizona Republic

In June 1987, President Ronald Reagan addressed thousands of Germans before the Brandenburg Gate at the Berlin Wall. Referring to that ultimate symbol of division between free and captive peoples, his challenge to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev - "Tear down this wall!" - is today remembered as a clarion call for freedom.

Yet in advance of his speech, some of Reagan's senior advisors tried to remove the line. After the speech was given with the line intact, the foreign-policy establishment reacted with horror. It was, they argued, nothing more than an act of needless provocation at a time when we were seeking to profitably engage Moscow.

Reagan disagreed. He engaged Moscow, but he also ensured that his words were directed at the people and not only at their oppressors.

After the Berlin Wall tumbled down, dissidents throughout the Soviet bloc spoke of how Reagan's words - and the many other efforts America undertook to support the forces of freedom - provided a beacon of hope in a dark land.

Today, as the Iranian regime tries to suppress popular protests following a sham election, courageous thousands march through the streets to demand their most fundamental human rights.

And in the face of such obvious abuses as we have seen in recent days - electoral fraud, media crackdowns, violence - the U.S. administration has deliberately avoided offering encouragement to the brave men and women in the streets or condemnation of their oppressors.

Yet I believe that we confer no favor on ourselves or on America's standing in the world if we remain silent in the face of such outrages.

The president and his administration should be at the forefront, calling on the Iranian regime to annul the fraudulent election, to restore the people's inalienable rights, and to allow peaceful protesters to voice their opinions.

The regime may well take the opposite approach. But by standing with the Iranian people as they pursue their legitimate rights, we will demonstrate to them - and to the world - that America is more than its might.

We see in their aspirations the same impulse for freedom that has animated our history for more than two centuries now. We stay quiet at our peril and theirs.

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