The Mullahs of Iran may not realize it yet, but it's over -- maybe not this week, or even this year, but make no mistake, their days are numbered.
They may succeed in shutting down this round of demonstrations and get away with their rigged election.and re-anoint Ahmadinejad as President of Iran. But now the whole world knows these are guaranteed only by the barrel of a gun. In the end, Ahmadinejad and the Mullahs will fail.
First, because demographics is destiny. History has shown that every time there is a large youth population, there is a revolution. It happened in France with the French Revolution, China during the Cultural Revolution, Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¦in the United States with the civil rights movement, and it is happening now in Iran. Seventy percent of the country's population is under the age of 30. And thanks to this election fiasco, they've become activated and politicized.
Second, in Iran, as elsewhere, it's the economy, stupid. Their unemployment rate is over 20%, with higher numbers in the youth population and much higher numbers among young women. Inflation ran at nearly 30% last year alone. Iran's only business is to pump oil out of the ground -- they don't refine it, they don't use it for petrochemicals, they haven't used their oil revenues to build an industrial base. Iran is one of the only oil-rich countries in the world that is broke. And it is unlikely to get better under the mullahs.
Third, technology acts as a catalyst to political movements. The fall of the Soviet Union happened in part because average people behind the Iron Curtain got their first television sets, and turned them on to discover how much better the rest of the world was living. The fall of Muslim theocracies will accelerate because of Twitter and Facebook and the Internet. The mullahs may try to censor social networking, but those tech savvy young Iranians will foil their efforts every time.
Finally, gone are the days when women didn't matter. The underlying premise of conservative Islam is that women do not belong in the public arena. Yet the progressive march of history has been to increase steadily the rights and roles of women. The fact that some 40 percent of the demonstrators in Iran are women is evidence of how out of step the Mullahs are with their people, especially their young people.
The next few days will be critical as the Mullahs crack down, violently, on the demonstrators. They may succeed for now, but not for long. Iran is ripe for another revolution. The only question is not whether it will happen, but where it will lead.
Kathleen Troia "K.T." McFarland served in national security posts in the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations. She is a frequent commentator on defense and foreign policy issues. Get more K.T., click here.