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If the people of Iran somehow navigate that choice successfully, and without significant bloodshed, the accomplishment will be all the more meaningful for having truly been an indigenous process. On the flip side, the mullahs may yet try to maintain power through Tiananmen-style force. That's a game of chicken that will have all of us anxious for weeks to come.
But it's one that no words or even deeds from Washington can ultimately resolve. Recognizing that fact may be the first step in acknowledging the limitations of U.S. power, and rehabilitating the world's responsibility for its own affairs. John McCain may be an effective sympathizer with far-flung dissidents, but that doesn't mean he's right about U.S. primacy, or about war. Whoever it's with.
Matt Welch is editor in chief of Reason and author of McCain: The Myth of a Maverick.