reminded me of something. One of the standard claims of the gun-banners is "The idea that a bunch of people with guns can stand against the government if it decides to crush them is rediculous. The government has tanks and fighter planes and atomic bombs!", etc. Well, except for what they take from the police and other security forces(Residents of the area described firefights after protesters grabbed weapons from security forces.), they don't have guns; they're making do(Young men were breaking bricks and stones to a size for hurling.)
Chris and others have pointed out the problem government forces face when standing against lots and lots of honest citizens with a legitimate gripe: it's kind of difficult to use artillery and bombers on your own damn cities. Same for a full-out infantry/armor assault; if you succeed, you've destroyed a big part of your own city, killed a bunch of people and, for every bunch who're cowed into obedience, you've created some others who will live for nothing but your downfall.
And that leaves out a very important factor: will your troops and police fire on their own people?
The Iranian police commander, in green uniform, walked up Komak Hospital Alley with arms raised and his small unit at his side. “I swear to God,” he shouted at the protesters facing him, “I have children, I have a wife, I don’t want to beat people. Please go home.”
A man at my side threw a rock at him. The commander, unflinching, continued to plead. There were chants of “Join us! Join us!” The unit retreated toward Revolution Street, where vast crowds eddied back and forth confronted by baton-wielding Basij militia and black-clad riot police officers on motorbikes.
Garbage burned. Crowds bayed. Smoke from tear gas swirled. Hurled bricks sent phalanxes of police, some with automatic rifles, into retreat to the accompaniment of cheers.
It's one thing to face an outside invader or troublemaker; it's a whole 'nother thing to have orders to beat or kill people in your own hometown. Especially when, you can bet, a lot of the police aren't real fond of what's happened themselves. If the army is sent in, they'll likely do what the Chinese did at Tiananmen Square: bring in units composed of people from other parts of the country, some of whom probably see that protesters as a bunch of troublemakers who need to be stomped. Some will; what about the others?
What about the troops who think of themselves as Iranians(or Persians, not real sure of the mindset on that)? Who want their country to advance? Who might not be real fond of "We must destroy the Jews!" leaders when there are problems to fix at home? Who think nuclear reactors to generate power is a great idea, but don't see a real need for nuclear bombs? Who don't want to kill other Iranians? There's got to be a lot of concern about what happens if they tell the army to squash all dissent, and a bunch of units say "I don't think so." Especially when there are a lot of women in the front lines. I know the official position on women, but that's one thing; lots of police and troops are going to have a hard time killing and crippling women like their mothers and sisters and daughters(who just might be in a line somewhere).
Same thing here, with a big difference: arms. Iranians are breaking up rocks and bricks to throw, the Chinese at Tiananmen were unarmed; we've got guns. If it ever came to that it'd be bloody and nasty beyond belief, which is one reason I doubt it will. We've got real problems, but to all the things troubling the police and army in Iran add "You want us to go into town and arrest anybody who disagrees with you and kill anybody who resists? Do you have any freaking idea what will happen? You want to take units from Michigan and send them to Oklahoma to do it? What makes you think Americans from Michigan will be ok with killing Okies? Or Texans?"
Some would; and some of them would be whacked by other troops("You killed them because they called that fuckin' politician a crook?" Bang.) The oath all troops take is very specific: not to any individual or agency, but to the Constitution. And they get serious lectures about things like illegal orders. Some will simply accept orders and act, but the others?
I'm kind of wandering here, I know. Main point is this: a bunch of mostly unarmed people, with rocks to throw at most, have just about brought Iran to a standstill; if some politicians tried something similar here, do you not think Americans, many armed, couldn't do as well?
Unpleasant subject. That a lot of politicians damned well better consider.