THE MAINSTREAM media narrative of events unfolding in Iran has been set out for us as clear as a fairytale: an evil dictatorship has rigged elections and now violently suppresses its country's democrats, hysterically blaming foreign saboteurs the while. But the Twitter generation is on the right side of history (in Obama's words), and could bring Iran back within the regional circle of moderation. If only Iran becomes moderate, a whole set of regional conflicts will be solved.
I don't mean to minimise the importance of the Iranian protests or the brutality of their suppression, but I take issue with the West's selective blindness when it gazes at the Middle East. The "Iran narrative" contains a dangerous set of simplicities which bode ill for Obama's promised engagement, and which will be recognised beyond the West as rotten with hypocrisy.
Iran's claims of Western incitement for the protests are roundly scorned in our media, and of course Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei's scapegoating of foreigners and "terrorist groups" demonstrates an unhealthy denial of the very real polarisation within Iranian society.
Yet Iranians still have good reason to fear outside interference. It was, after all, British and American-orchestrated riots that brought down the elected Mossadeq government in 1953. And in 2007, Bush administration neocon John Bolton told the Telegraph that a US attack on Iran would be "a last option after economic sanctions and attempts to foment a popular revolution had failed".