Today, only a prudent policy free from the weight of jingoist bravura or unexamined shame can navigate its way through the inseparably complicated and interlinked problems of Iran’s nuclear program and Iran’s democratic dream. Only a democratic Iran, one that abides by Non-Proliferation Treaty while insisting on Iran’s rights within the treaty, can solve Iran’s nuclear impasse. It is as much folly to think that the regime will end its nuclear program as it is to imagine that not offering support to Iran’s democrats will save them from the wrath of the regime or from the allegation that they are “lackeys” or tools of the United States. The fact that the regime makes these allegations have everything to do with its paranoid and isolated nature and all but nothing to do with what America or the West actually does. In writing about support for the Iranian democrats, I am in no way suggesting that the United States or other countries should interfere in Iran’s domestic affairs. America and the world can help Iranian democrats by simply helping to level the playing field by serving notice to the regime that continued brutality against the people, and of the democratic leaders, will bring it even closer to complete isolation.
A fuller treatment of the topic can be found in Abbas Milani's book, The Shah, published by Palgrave Macmillan this month.