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86 million hopes
On Margaret Thatcher's management advice, the death of neutrality, and what the free world owes to the people of Iran
Some of the best management advice ever offered was delivered to the leaders of Poland's Solidarity movement by Margaret Thatcher: ""How do you see the process from where you are now to where you want to be? Because whatever you want to do, it's not only what you want to do, but how -- the practical way you see it coming about [...] Write down the ten steps from where you are now to where you want to be."
■ It is at our own peril that we fail to think through a similar list as the people of the free world look on at the incipient Iranian revolution sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini while in the hands of the country's "morality" police.
■ People don't have to subscribe to all of the tenets of classical liberalism to have a genuine desire for freedom. And when a regime is so utterly corrupt as to deliberately kill children as a means of punishing and trying to quash dissent, anyone possessing a normal set of human sensibilities knows that regime has lost any reasonable claim to credibility.
■ It is not for the United States or any other outside country to force the next steps. But if we are not neutral about the outcome -- and we ought not to be -- then we ought to have a coherent, thought-out strategy for "the ten steps from where you are now to where you want to be."
■ What are we doing to deliver news and information where those may be scarce? Are we expressing support for the right side at the right volumes and through the right channels? Is there intelligence or other support that could be of use to the people organizing to demand their own freedom? Do the right people within the regime know what would happen if they switched sides?
■ Plans must always be tempered by humility. Nobody knows the future, and uncertainties will always introduce new contingencies. But it is incomplete to merely hope that good things will happen.
■ Iran is one of the top 20 countries in the world by population, with more than 86 million people. What happens there is inherently consequential, and while its destiny ought to be in the hands of its own people, that destiny shouldn't be left to idle hope if there are supportive, humane, and empathetic ways the free world can lend its support.
■ Those 86 million people deserve better than a government so evil it would use the bodies of the dead as hostages. If we want to help those people, it's on our shoulders to think carefully -- but urgently -- about "the practical way you see it coming about".