- The Washington Times - Friday, June 26, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

In her discussion of the Berlin uprising of 1989, Suzanne Fields was spot-on when she called it “unlikely” (“Sic semper tyrannis,” Opinion, Thursday). Actually, its success was unlikely. If then-East German President Erich Honecker had had the power to mobilize his military and security troops, the uprisings in Berlin, Leipzig and other cities would have been suppressed brutally and decisively in a matter of days. However, under agreements between East Germany and the Soviet Union, Mr. Honecker could call out the troops only with express permission from Mikhail S. Gorbachev, general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

To this day, I cannot fathom why Mr. Gorbachev declined to give such permission to Mr. Honecker. Mr. Honecker found himself in a box, powerless to put down the uprising and left with no choice other than to resign and flee to Chile. Thus, the “unlikely” uprising, which ordinarily would have been stamped out, succeeded. Its success was due to a sequence of very-low-probability events.

The Iranian protesters experienced the normal flow of events, which meant their demonstrations would be snuffed. The mullah regime does not have a Gorbachev restraining it; on the contrary, Iran’s rulers took the position that they were acting on direct orders from God. One wishes the Iranian people well in their hopes of one day overthrowing the mullahs, but the probability of their doing so at any time in the foreseeable future is close to zero.

JULIAN JOSEPHSON

Bethesda

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