Juan Cole on Iranian Protests and the Reform Movement's Future

Cole and HuffPo's Nico Pitney discuss how the Obama administration must engage the Iranian regime.

Thousands of Iranian protesters marched toward Tehran University today, both to commemorate the 1999 student uprising and to continue their opposition toward the recently stolen presidential election.  Once again, the Iranian regime has responded with violence, as Basij militia members dispersed demonstrators with live fire, tear gas, and other brutal measures.  It's clear though that Iran's reform movement is still alive and strong, despite the regime's best efforts to thwart protesters and the fact that the US media have largely buried this story beneath coverage of Michael Jackson's death.

Though instantaneous social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter helped spark and coordinate last month's protests, we simply can't expect Iran's reform movement to succeed as quickly.  Any success will be slow going, a point Juan Cole emphasized when he discussed the chaos in Iran with The Huffington Post's Nico Pitney yesterday at Brave New Studios.  Cole, the author of Engaging the Muslim World, told Pitney that while the Obama administration definitely can't intervene to the point that they enable a reformist victory, they must continue engaging Iranian hardliners if the current regime remains in power.

ZP Heller is the editorial director of Brave New Films. He has written for The American Prospect, AlterNet, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and The Huffington Post, covering everything from politics to pop culture.