Aiming at the axis

"Aiming at the axis" Continued...

Issue: "The Mormon Olympics," Feb. 16, 2002

Naming Iran was the thorniest call for Mr. Bush. Iran's alliance with Russia and with opposition groups in Afghanistan-together with open hostility toward the Taliban-promised a way to warm ties between Tehran and Washington early on after 9/11. Some diplomats wanted to lift sanctions against the fundamentalist Islamic regime. After the president's remarks, State Department "unnamed officials" whined to The Washington Post, prompting a headline like this: "Bush's Speech Shuts Door on Tenuous Opening to Iran."

Longtime observers hope so. "Iran is the mother of all terrorism and no good will come of sidling up to its dictators," said Michael Ledeen, resident scholar at American Enterprise Institute. For Iranians who want democracy, Mr. Ledeen said, the president's remarks "have filled them with hope."

Since last April, 60 parliamentarians in Iran were summoned to court on political charges; many received prison sentences and hefty fines. But that has not stopped new momentum since 9/11 for a populist reform movement of teachers, students, and others (including women soccer fans who take a stand against the cleric-led government by showing up without head coverings at soccer matches). For them a new battlefront on terrorism could open a road to freedom.


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