Various anti-Jihad bloggers and columnists are going head to head on the issue. As some have pointed out, the leading Iranian opposition figures such as Rafsanjani and Mousavi are not significantly better than Ahmadinejad himself, being involved in terrorism abroad and the development of nuclear technology.
Nevertheless despite all that, Khrushchev denounced Stalin and the worst atrocities of Communism, in doing so created a division that broke the mold of the infallible and all-powerful Soviet leader, and the USSR itself. This helped lead to Khrushchev's own removal from power, followed by a series of increasingly weaker leaders culminating in Gorbachev and the collapse of the USSR.
Thus it would have been entirely correct in the 1950's to point out that Khrushchev was a monster and a dedicated Communist who sought the destruction of the West and the perpetuation of totalitarian rule at home-- he was also a key element in the reform and eventual collapse of the USSR.
It would have also been fairly accurate to pass a similar judgment on Gorbachev toward the end of the 20th century. Despite his best efforts to present a positive reformer's face to the West, Gorbachev was a dedicated Communist and a totalitarian leader, the protege of a key Stalin ally who hoped to gather in all of Western Europe into an EU style arrangement under Russian leadership.
In turn Russia's August Revolution could have easily been dismissed as crowds of Russians who were seeking not the fall of the USSR, but the restoration to power of a Communist dictator. Except that what they actually achieved was the fall of the USSR at the hands of a man who himself had made a career as a high ranking Communist official.
While Iran is not the Soviet Union, and the June Revolt is not the August Revolution, there are some valid parallels.
In the wake of Ayatollah Khomeini's death, the Islamic Republic lost its own version of Stalin and Lenin rolled into one. The death of their chief ideologue exposed rifts and conflicts within the power structure of his disciples and associates, none of whom could replace him. Much as the aftermath of Stalin's death created a shaky power structure with the likes of Khrushchev, Beria, Molotov and Bulganin scrambling for power. Like the Russian people who felt that those who came after Stalin were small corrupt men who betrayed the legacy of the Communist revolution, a similar sentiment exists among Iranians who view Khomeini's Islamic revolution as a flawless standard which Iran's current rulers have betrayed with their corruption and vested interests.
What all this means for us is that the June Revolution is a symptom of Iran's instability, the Iranian public's loss of faith in the authorities, and the regime's increasingly corrupt and weakened nature. While Mousavi may be no matter than Ahmadinejad from our perspective in the short term, in the long term, either his ascension or suppression is likely to lead Iran away from Islamic totalitarianism.
Reform has been in the wind in Iran for some time now. Most ordinary Iranians may not be ready to jettison the whole Islamic Republic, but large numbers of the young generation want a great deal more social and political freedoms, as well as an end to the corruption of the inheritors of the Islamic Revolution. That desire for change is genuine, and it is likely to ultimately lead to the same place that it did in the Soviet Union.
For those outside Iran, domestic instability is likely to reduce the regime's ability to sow mischief abroad. If the Revolutionary Guard and its associated regional Shiite militias, not to mention Sunni fellow travelers such as Hamas, have to be hard at work in Tehran, they will be less capable of planting IED's in Iraq, shelling Ashkelon or shipping new rockets to the Taliban.
And taking on an oppressive domestic role will lessen their long term organizational base of support and survival at home, once the reformers do take power.
Whether Ahmadinejad remains in power, or Mousavi replaces him, no matter what domestic changes happen with the Supreme Council, whoever comes out on top will have to appease the people by redirecting portions of the military budget to civilian in a tough economy, swapping out guns for butter, which will again reduce the amount of harm Iran is able to wreak abroad.
Finally the protests themselves and their suppression demonstrate to the world the reality of what an Islamic regime looks like. The protesters may be chanting Allahu Akbar, but the regime they are fighting is one that came to power and holds power through treating Islamic as a means of political supremacy. Those European and American Muslims who hanker for Sharia and Islamic states might well consider the reality before their eyes.
While it might be easy to write off the protests and the protesters because of that, this would be shortsighted. The protesters are genuinely idealistic and they are fighting against an actual injustice and an unjust system. The aftermath of their protests may leave us with no better a situation than Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union, or China after Tienanmen Square, but nevertheless both present day Russia and the People's Republic of China are vastly preferable to what came before.
We personally cannot change what is going on in Iran now, but we can bear witness and speak out, for nothing to emboldens a tormentor as the silence of those watching his crimes.