"the world has heard so much about duck houses and lame duck prime ministers that they must think we are all completely quackers"
If the BBC's chiefs have an ounce of common sense they will seize the moment, cut Jonathan Ross's salary in half and use the money to hire another 20 Farsi-speaking analysts. [...]
There is a good reason why the ayatollah bashed Britain with such singular ferocity, and it is to do with the Iranians' changing view of America. We have been co-opted to play the role of Great Satan, because America is now led by Barack Obama, or Barack Hussein Obama, as Fox News always calls him, and it is obvious that the mullahs don't know quite how to handle him.
Obama's intelligent speech in Cairo has had a big impact in the Muslim world, and it is obvious that it is his presence in the White House – far more than any BBC broadcast – that is giving hope to the demonstrators in Tehran.
I don't know whether this election was rigged. Even if there were as many irregularities as the protesters claim, it seems sadly possible that Mr Ahmedinejad retained a majority of the votes, if not 63 per cent. Indeed, I saw one BBC television report that scrupulously portrayed the messianic reception he received in parts of the country, with weeping women queuing to touch the hem of his raiment.
Nor do I know whether the demonstrators will succeed in their demands, or whether they will peter out over the next few days, overwhelmed by the brutality of the official response.
But there is one thing we can say for certain: that in the 30 years since the fundamentalist revolution, this is the nearest the mullahs have come to feeling the anger of the people. This is the nearest Iran has come, in our lifetimes, to a true brush with democracy.
The key point is that I do not believe it could possibly have happened had John McCain been elected. Why? Because McCain entertained American journalists by singing, to a Beach Boys' tune: "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran." If you want a population to abandon a hardline leadership, you don't threaten them with nuclear war.
Barack Obama has shown the Iranian bourgeoisie that America is willing to engage, to treat their country with respect, and it is that sudden hope – of a new role and status for Iran – that is driving the protesters to see if they can be rid of their crazy regime.
Who knows whether they will succeed, but we can safely say that the BBC and Barack Obama have done more to change Iran than Fox News and George W Bush.
[This article is in The Daily Telegraph] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/borisjohnson/
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