Trial by combat, once the final appeal to court cases in Europe, asked a miracle of God each time by invoking His aid in bringing about a just settlement to the case. Surely the mullahs would join such a prayer today, would they not? So must we.
This is the point at which the entire Bush-and-Clinton administration strategy for Iran is coming to a head: to pressure the regime while offering at least rhetorical support to those Iranian people who seek democracy in their hearts. The current administration wanted a different strategy, of engagement with the regime; and therefore, has chosen to allow the regime to isolate the people we once encouraged.
There is little we can do but pray, as the levers of power belong to those who have set that course. We must abide the result of the prayer, and the wager it represents.
Ashura, by the way, is the day of mourning for the martyrdom of Ali, who stands at the fountainhead of Shi'a Islam. Modern men, born centuries after the battle in which Ali was killed, cut and whip themselves to shed their blood in sorrow for the fact that 'we were not there to defend you.'
Mark that well. It may be we will one day wish that we had been there, now, when it mattered. There is much they need, that we will not provide.