The last thing Iran needs is American “assistance”

I write extensively about the web in repressive regimes but I remain skeptical (to put it mildly) when neo-conservatives talk about democracy promotion.

Take Reuel Marc Gerecht in today’s New York Times:

The democracy movement also needs a large supply of digital-video broadcasting cards, which function much like prepaid telephone cards and allow downloading and uploading of digital content from satellites. The Green Movement’s technology experts have done back-of-the-envelope calculations: just $50 million per year could open the entire country to the Internet. Millions less would still allow the diverse range of pro-democracy groups to communicate with each other and more effectively counter the regime’s security forces. Compared to what the United States peacefully did to help anti-Communists during the cold war, such aid would be a pittance, financially and operationally.

And a recent talk via the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas on “Cyber dissidents”:

Credibility is key in this debate and it’s beyond me to understand how anybody can take the backers of the former Bush administration as being serious about promoting democracy, as opposed to American interests and militarism.

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