Well, yes, the power of the written word has long been recognized as able to overcome the oppressive force of autocrats. The writings of folks like Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, Paine, Burke, and others have been instrumental in bringing governments to their knees.
But, automatic weapons are mightier than the printing presses.
Modern weaponry has varied in success rates against a motivated populace. We've seen it supplement a movement and bring a mighty Soviet Union to their knees. And, in the same year we've seen modern weaponry brutally quash a citizen uprising in Tianamen Square. There's a question of level of commitment in the equation. How ruthless and powerful does the regime wish to be?
We've seen repeated examples in the second half of the twentieth century. In Hungary in 1956 we saw the Soviets crush dissidents without remorse and without the free world speaking out. The Czech "Velvet Revolution" of 1989 got a warmer response and built on the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The question now is whether the Internet and tech savvy youth are mightier than regressive mullahs.
Iran is a political product of the western world clash with Persian culture and ascendent Islam. It is a nation which spawned Darius and the Persian Empire. It boasts a proud history and a people who have led the world in their art and culture. In the twentieth century they were on the verge of leading the Middle East into modernity and at the same time demonstrating an alternative to the surrounding nations to Dark Ages theocracy.
The effort was bungled. Pahlavi plated his world in gold, rewarded his sycophants and alienated his heritage. Carter couldn't establish coherent policy and waffled on support for the regime. The result was the return of the mullahs and a vigorous retreat into the foggy world of Shiite Islamic fundamentalism.
The problem is that young people don't want to wear burquas and miss out on all that they see available in a modern world. They know that there is an alternative to living that way. They see it on YouTube and Facebook.
Now they are speaking out. They are letting the world know what they are doing. They seek help and they are willing to take to the streets and die for their future. Britain has stood up, France has stood up, other nations have gone on record. The Messiah has waited and watched and polled and then unequivocally equivocated.
Let us hope that we don't get a tweet from Teheran that paraphrases this shortwave radio transmission from Budapest in 1956:
“This is Hungary calling, this is Hungary calling: the last remaining station calls to United Nations. Early this morning Soviet troops launched a general attack on Hungary. We are requesting you to send us immediate aid in the form of parachute troops over the trans-Danubian provinces. For the sake of God and freedom -- help Hungary!”
Can no one in the White House muster the fortitude to go on record in this matter?