Friday, June 19, 2009

Obama: Hope and Change - But Not For Iran

Recall my theme from yesterday: "Change for Iran? Not From Obama."

It turns out that Charles Krauthammer's giving it some play, "
Hope and Change - But Not For Iran" (via Memeorandum):

This started out about election fraud. But like all revolutions, it has far outgrown its origins. What's at stake now is the very legitimacy of this regime -- and the future of the entire Middle East.

This revolution will end either as a Tiananmen (a hot Tiananmen with massive and bloody repression or a cold Tiananmen with a finer mix of brutality and co-optation) or as a true revolution that brings down the Islamic Republic.

The latter is improbable but, for the first time in 30 years, not impossible. Imagine the repercussions. It would mark a decisive blow to Islamist radicalism, of which Iran today is not just standard-bearer and model, but financier and arms supplier. It would do to Islamism what the collapse of the Soviet Union did to communism -- leave it forever spent and discredited.

In the region, it would launch a second Arab spring. The first in 2005 -- the expulsion of Syria from Lebanon, the first elections in Iraq and early liberalization in the Gulf states and Egypt -- was aborted by a fierce counterattack from the forces of repression and reaction, led and funded by Iran.

Now, with Hezbollah having lost elections in Lebanon and with Iraq establishing the institutions of a young democracy, the fall of the Islamist dictatorship in Iran would have an electric and contagious effect. The exception -- Iraq and Lebanon -- becomes the rule. Democracy becomes the wave. Syria becomes isolated; Hezbollah and Hamas, patronless. The entire trajectory of the region is reversed.

All hangs in the balance. The Khamenei regime is deciding whether to do a Tiananmen. And what side is the Obama administration taking? None. Except for the desire that this "vigorous debate" (press secretary Robert Gibbs's disgraceful euphemism) over election "irregularities" not stand in the way of U.S.-Iranian engagement on nuclear weapons.

Even from the narrow perspective of the nuclear issue, the administration's geopolitical calculus is absurd. There is zero chance that any such talks will denuclearize Iran. On Monday, President Ahmadinejad declared yet again that the nuclear "file is shut, forever." The only hope for a resolution of the nuclear question is regime change, which (if the successor regime were as moderate as pre-Khomeini Iran) might either stop the program, or make it manageable and nonthreatening.

That's our fundamental interest. And our fundamental values demand that America stand with demonstrators opposing a regime that is the antithesis of all we believe.

And where is our president? Afraid of "meddling." Afraid to take sides between the head-breaking, women-shackling exporters of terror -- and the people in the street yearning to breathe free. This from a president who fancies himself the restorer of America's moral standing in the world.
See also, Paul Wolfowitz's withering essay, "Obama Needs to Change Stance on Iran":

President Obama's first response to the protests in Iran was silence, followed by a cautious, almost neutral stance designed to avoid "meddling" in Iranian affairs. I am reminded of Ronald Reagan's initially neutral response to the crisis following the Philippine election of 1986, and of George H.W. Bush's initially neutral response to the attempted coup against Mikhail Gorbachev in 1991. Both Reagan and Bush were able to abandon their mistaken neutrality in time to make a difference. It's not too late for Obama to do the same ....

It would be a cruel irony if, in an effort to avoid imposing democracy, the United States were to tip the scale toward dictators who impose their will on people struggling for freedom. And if we appear so desperate for negotiations that we will abandon those who support our principles, we weaken our own negotiating hand.

That does not mean that we need to pick sides in an Iranian election or claim to know its result. Obama could send a powerful message simply by placing his enormous personal prestige behind the peaceful conduct of the demonstrators and their demand for reform - exactly the kind of peaceful, democratic change that he praised in his speech in Cairo.

16 comments:

cracker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cracker said...

Take it easy,

The die is cast, for the first time in a long time we're, not going to delay the inevitable, by putting our big "stick" into it. In fact we're gonna try something different, a change if you will (couldnt help that)

Its not the "fast food" McDiplomacy you boomers are use too, we know.

Anonymous said...

Your assessment with regards to President Obama in completely wrong. As a US Citizen with Iranian heritage I can guarantee you that any meddling with Iran’s internal affairs at this point will be completely counterproductive. I realize that you are more interested in curbing this regimes appetite for nuclear weapons but your short-sided view of the situation will backfire as it did in 1953. Iran would be a full democracy by now and a great ally of US had it not been for the miss guided CIA approach to the situation at the time. Any apparent meddling by a foreign entity will be used by the current regime as a tool to gather support and help re-stabilize the current uprising. Iranians unlike Arabs are nationalists and will put aside their differences for a while to ensure that their destiny is not hijacked by a foreign power. Every Iranian is fully aware of the events 1953 and the current regime has used it over and over again to remind people that only they can provide and protect the legitimate right of the people. You might argue the validity of the current regime to which I will point out that we had a moment in time where we could have turn the tides our way had we handed over the Shah to Iran when he was officially extradited. That event helped the current regime with driving a wedge between people of Iran and the US for a while. They used it as their proof that Unite States has never had the right intentions with Iran and is only interested in furthering its own agenda, and they are right. No Country would and should put other Country’s interest before its own. But the point is that US and Iran interests are not exclusive of one another. A vibrant democracy in Iran is good for the Iran and United States. But the way to go about it is not to stage a cop or a full military invasion as in Iraq. The people of Iran have to pay a price for their own freedom so that it is permanently etched into their memory and history. Yes it will be bloody, but it will last and it will be theirs. Like this country did. There is genuine sense of admiration for American people amongst Iranians and it has nothing to do with US prestige as we know it today. They all admire how this country fought for its independence and the right to control its own destiny. All they want is to do very same thing.
We need to play this smart and not help the current regime with the fuel they so desperately are seeking to stay in power. The people in Iran are realizing that if they want true democracy and freedom, they have to fight for it. I believe it will be bloody but I see no other way. Despite what everyone might think this regime is well established and stable. With multiple levels of military and security forces in place to curb any attempt to destabilize it. However, one should never underestimate the will of the people.

Old Rebel said...

Wow. Ya think taking sides in Iranian internal politics will work out as well as Wolfowitz's other master strokes?

Anonymous said...

First Poster regarding Knife-in-the -back of Shah of Iran.
It should be obvious the freedom-fighters in Iran are on their own.This MISSION-ACCOMLISHED OBAMA is in the process of stealing American freedom also. Tell the freedom fighters in Iran they are not alone. We,too are fighting ISLAMOCOMMUNISM in the USA representerd by MISSION ACCOMPLISHED OBAMA .We need help here when they are finished and we are praying for a fruitful outcome there.
We love you and understand the history of DECEIT CARTER.

Tom the Redhunter said...

Well, Anonymous 10:09, if the Iranians fail to overthrow the regime, and a crackdown results, hope you still feel good that there was no "meddling" from us.

But then, you'll be safely here in the U.S., won't you?

Rusty Walker said...

Well, “Anonymous,” you, as a pseudonym, claiming Iranian heritage, not only have NO credibility, if you want your words to mean something then let us know who you are – you are in the free country of America.
Your hands-off, no-meddling approach aligns with Obama so you should be happy. This, however, will isolate the courageous dissenters in the streets. This has nothing to do with the Shah of Iran, or past administrations. There are plenty of high level Iranians in this country that do no agree that America should be muzzled. To be stuck in 1953 politics is absurd. In addition, no one is suggesting the United States would, “ stage a cop (sic) or a full military invasion as in Iraq.” In fact, Obama is apparently immobilized with indecision. As the brilliant Dr. Krauthammer points out,
"Supreme Leader"? Note the abject solicitousness with which the American president confers this honorific on a clerical dictator who, even as his minions attack demonstrators, offers to examine some returns in some electoral districts -- a farcical fix that will do nothing to alter the fraudulence of the election.”
And this is no longer about elections; it is about rebellion from suppression of the youth, females, any and all liberties of the country. Without our vocal support such as those suggested by Senator John McCain, we will be a farcical footnote in this history of events.
If you truly are Iranian, then, man, get with it, this country is fully on your side – even the congress today spoke up with Congressional resolutions in formal support of Iran, Much stronger than the president!!!!!!

Tomas said...

"To be stuck in 1953 politics is absurd....."

ACtually rusty, it is not "absurd" when referencing past FAILURES (thats right, I said it, FAILURES - something many Americans have a hard time acknowledging......), such that these same failures are not repeated over and over again.

Harping on the fact that the person is "anonymous and questioning his Iranian background, is a bit silly and childish doncha think? The man/woman has a point to make, and he chooses to make it anonymously.

Which part of his claims do you disagree with and how would you go about it? Do you question his claim that the United STates FAILED Iran by interfering during the Shah era?

cracker said...

Yeah, I watched this congressional resolution, lead by McCain, and acknowledged by the White house today.

I'm gonna call it...like I see it.

Pandering.....

Listen, if you havent figured out what the heck we stand for.....for almost 250 years..........

then your appeasing someone...or something....

watch and learn.

Philippe Ohlund said...

You're wrong anonymous.

This is the time to raise our voices.

Iran, Persia, was created by Perseus and the Greeks.

In that mentality, there is a dislike, when somebody who has been unfairly treated raises his voice, and he will immediately be justified.

This is our time to show our real anger with the Iranian regime, and only then change will come.

In the U.S. and here in Sweden where I live, a majority of people in prisons are males.

In Iran over 90 percent in prisons are women, because the regime thinks only a woman can break the law.

I don't like that, and I think that was one of the reasons why people in Iran overwhelmingly voted against Ahmadinejad.

Rich Casebolt said...

cracker ... is the "inevitable" a return to the oppression and belligerence we have seen from the Mad Mullahs?

Why should the world settle for that?

Problem is, our leadership sits passively because the rest of the world has embraced the same moral relativism as they ... and as a result, our leadership lacks the confidence in the principles whose consistent application changed the "inevitability" of many oppressive outcomes, from continued rule by George III to the imposition of communism, in our history.

For this kind of diplomacy to be effective, both sides must have a measure of respect for each other ... even if it is derived from fear.

The Mad Mullahs do not have that kind of respect for us ... in stark contrast to the fear they had in 1981, when they released our hostages at almost the precise instant Mr. Reagan became President.

(and btw, y'all ... from what I understand, if we had NOT intervened in 1953, Iranian democracy was NOT "inevitable", either ... it was quite likely that we would have instead seen Iran annexed into the USSR. Warm-water ports were a big item on ol' Ivan's geopolitical shopping list back then, y'know).

Mr. Obama, through his "diplomacy", is throwing the freedom of the Iranian people under the bus ...

... and without freedom ... and the respect for it ... peace is just an illusion.

Rich Casebolt said...

Tomas, we did succeed in keeping the Soviets out of Iran. That was NOT a failure.

The failure was our unwillingness to do whatever it took to establish rights-respecting governance in Iran ... both in 1953 and in the 1970's.

We instead tried to do it on the cheap, protecting our own interests with no regard to what the leadership of such nations were doing to their citizens ... thanks to the unprincipled criticism of short-sighted people like you, who thought we should not have been there at all, and would never have supported the messy work it takes to establish rights-respecting governance in such a place. Our leaders made the best they could of bad situations, instead ... and we all paid for it.

Freedom is not "inevitable" if we sit by passively ... and as I said earlier, without freedom and the respect for it, peace is just an illusion.

The short-sightedness you exhibit gave us the the Mad Mullahs. Now that's failure for you.

OTOH, one big reason the Iranian people can protest today, is because the Mad Mullahs can no longer use the threat of Saddam Hussein as a whip to control them.

Iraq is instead moving to rights-respecting governance ... and is no longer a threat to the people of Iran, as long as the Iranian leadership does not threaten the people of Iraq.

Of course, tomas, you saw that as American "failure", too.

You need new glasses.

Dennis, said...

Well said Rusty. Even Obama is coming around to doing what he should have done in the beginning. One can encourage democracy in ways that keeps our involvement to a minimum and maintain a policy of constructive engagement.

Donald,

Do you notice that whenever Obama is starting to look bad or is in trouble you get a number of those from the Left who spend time attacking you instead of dealing with the issue. basically an attempt to change the subject and protect Obama's incompetence and fecklessness. One could even wonder if this enmity is controlled and directed by the WH or someone who may have an agenda to gloss over the disaster's that emanate from this current administration's "but we won" explanation for ever thing. All that appeasement did not protect the US or Obama from being blamed by the Mullahs.
So much Clement Atley. So much appeasement. It should occur to most people that there is a middle ground in dealing with the Iranian situation.

Tomas said...

"We instead tried to do it on the cheap, protecting our own interests with no regard to what the leadership of such nations were doing to their citizens ..."


Rich, yes, I am "unprincipled" for being a firm believer in communal justice as apposed to dictatorial superpower negotiated justice.

Maybe you think that America has some sort of "devine moral code" (otherwise known as bat-shit right-wing theocratism), but history seems to indicate that America has acted out of pure self-interest even when it was at the expense of countless innocent lives, international laws and so on.

Do you need me to cite examples? Suharto? Batista? Marcos?...........there's plenty more.

The Soviets! haha, now how did I know you were going to pull out the old "soviet" boogey man card on us. Those crazy commies are always out to get you right-wing theocraticians!

I bet you were a Mccarthy supporting Soviet boogeyman theorist too huh?

WE might not be able to "sit back" and gain freedom, but we dont' need mr. Morality America like yourself telling the world how, when and where they should be "liberated" and whether they should have macdonalds, KFC's, Shell and Walmart lining their streets because America thinks its cool.


have a nice day chief.

Tomas said...

Let me make one other statement.

I"ll qualify later.

America has created or played a role in creating countless more failed states than liberated states.

Rusty Walker said...

Hi Tomas, all due respect, this has nothing to do with referencing failures of past U.S. administrations. Apparently that is a sticking point with you. As you suggest, the United States has not had success in every endeavor, in fact, we have made mistakes, but that is another subject for another time. This is not the same context as Eisenhower’s world; this isn’t about use of covert CIA ops of the 1950s.

I hardly need to defend myself, but just so you know, there is nothing childish about me, I can assure you. I put away childish things more sixty years ago. That said, I understand your defense, and I do not wish to indulge in “harping.” I just prefer that long tirades come from identifiable persons for heightened credibility. Re-read my ending statement to him, where I state in solidarity that we are on his in this rebellion.

I do not question his, or your, claim that the United States failed Iran in the past by interfering during the Shah era. I actually believe, and history confirms, that it was not well thought out. The Shah was not a particularly savory individual. That, and many of the half-measures that this country has taken with regards to attempts to democratize some countries i would hope will inform us on this occasion and others.

My thesis is the need for more direct verbal support for the Iranian rebellion from the number one representative of the free world, Barak Hussein Obama, and the need for a president to step up and be a leader and thus less reticent, and more firm and encouraging about our support of the freedom fighters within Iran. This is not about the election now, it is about freedom of Iranian people, freedom of the press, freedom for women, freedom of religion, freedoms such as our basic liberties we so often take for granted. Think about what life must be like there under the theocratic oppression and you will have an idea about my passion for these people.
Again, this is a new opportunity, it is a chance to speak out and support freedom fighters that are dying for their cause.