Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Obama Disses the Opposition in Iran

From Robert Kagan, "Obama, Siding With the Regime":

One of the great innovations in the Obama administration's approach to Iran, after all, was supposed to be its deliberate embrace of the Tehran rulers' legitimacy. In his opening diplomatic gambit, his statement to Iran on the Persian new year in March, Obama went out of his way to speak directly to Iran's rulers, a notable departure from George W. Bush's habit of speaking to the Iranian people over their leaders' heads. As former Clinton official Martin Indyk put it at the time, the wording was carefully designed "to demonstrate acceptance of the government of Iran."

This approach had always been a key element of a "grand bargain" with Iran. The United States had to provide some guarantee to the regime that it would no longer support opposition forces or in any way seek its removal. The idea was that the United States could hardly expect the Iranian regime to negotiate on core issues of national security, such as its nuclear program, so long as Washington gave any encouragement to the government's opponents. Obama had to make a choice, and he made it. This was widely applauded as a "realist" departure from the Bush administration's quixotic and counterproductive idealism.

It would be surprising if Obama departed from this realist strategy now, and he hasn't. His extremely guarded response to the outburst of popular anger at the regime has been widely misinterpreted as reflecting concern that too overt an American embrace of the opposition will hurt it, or that he wants to avoid American "moralizing." (Obama himself claimed yesterday that he didn't want the United States to appear to be "meddling.")

But Obama's calculations are quite different. Whatever his personal sympathies may be, if he is intent on sticking to his original strategy, then he can have no interest in helping the opposition. His strategy toward Iran places him objectively on the side of the government's efforts to return to normalcy as quickly as possible, not in league with the opposition's efforts to prolong the crisis.
More at the link, and Memeorandum.

See also, "Neocons, House GOPers Demand Obama Take Moussavi’s Side."

Photo Credit: Boston Globe, "Iran's Continued Election Turmoil."


EDGE said...

If I hear one more MSM reporter compare this to Florida 2000 I think I'm gonna gag.

Tim said...

You're right, EDGE, it isn't like Florida 2000.

The main reason being that we on the left didn't have the balls to take to the streets like we should have!

Dennis said...


What drivel.

Tim said...

Dennis: What we can all count on, is that you and your "fools rush in" brigade are not what is needed right now. Too much grandstanding and finger wagging from the U.S. could just embolden the powers that be by making the opposition look like stooges of the west.

Tim said...

Here's another perspective, that breaks with Donald's Blame-Obama -First approach.

Click here for another take

Rich Casebolt said...

Tim ... and too little will facilitate another Tienamen Square ...

... or worse yet, another Iraq 1991, leading to the same skepticism and distrust that made our reception there in 2003 (to finish what we should have twelve years before -- but didn't because we followed the "realist" playbook) so cold.

Mr. Obama's walking-on-eggs may just end up propping up a strongman ... one worse than the Shah ... real progress there, Tim.

Tim said...

Rich: Bombs away? Or just harsh rhetoric?

I don't think you get that the world has moved on Rich. It's not 1991 Iraq. It's 2009 Iran. Some things DO actually change.

I credit this uprising to Obama.

cracker said...

I'm diggin the reticence of the President.

There's a list of leaders we assisted to ascension in the middle east, since 1945.....only to have them poke us in the eye.

Side bar;
as far as the 2k election.....dont forget....Gore was hairless in fighting it out in court....he caved saying "it was in the interest of the country"....hindsight is 20/20, GW and Co. were incompetent and effed things with a fine amount of disgrace, up to the point they need to be investigated......but they didnt lay down....

point being Gore wasnt a fighter, even diplomatically, he walked away. Thats no one for the American masses to march in the street for

DFS said...

I credit this uprising to Obama.

I'd be interested to hear the logic of that attribution.

Philippe Öhlund said...

Great post, Donald! :-)

I refer to you on my latest blog post, which deals with Iran.

Tim, I'm happy you understand you can credit the uprising in Iran to President Obama.

The Iranians know very well they cannot count on President Obama, since the Iranian regime was ga-ga over Obama becoming American President.

So now the Iranians try to do the job themselves.

The Iranians will also succeed, if President Obama stops siding with and supporting Ahmadinejad.

Tim said...

Philippe: That is the old-school view. Here's another view, from Patrick Disney:

"Given Iran's well-known allergy to foreign meddling--and the hardliners' adept ability to justify their harsh repression by blaming alleged foreign plots--the Obama administration is doing exactly the right thing. Just as the absolute worst thing the US government could have done in the days leading up to the elections was impose new sanctions to "cripple" Iran's economy, the worst thing the administration could do now is take sides in the political infighting before knowing that its help would actually be welcome."

And David Ignatius:

"The stormy Iranian elections are one more sign of how the world has been shaken up in the age of Barack Obama. The ruling mullahs are nervous about a threat to the regime; the opposition is in the streets protesting what they claim is a rigged election. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is claiming a new mandate, but what the world sees is the regime's vulnerability.

And what should Obama say about this ferment in Iran, a process that he has subtly encouraged? I'd argue that he should continue with the line he took in his Cairo speech two weeks ago -- speaking directly to Muslim publics even as he proposes dialogue with the repressive regimes that govern Iran and many other nations.

Obama would make a mistake if he seemed to meddle in Iranian politics. That would give the mullahs the foreign enemy they need to discredit the reformers. Obama's message should be: "We support the Iranian people and their democracy. Any change in how Iran is governed is their decision, not America's." The decisive pressure will come not from Washington, but from the international spotlight focused on the extraordinary drama."

Points to consider!

Philippe Öhlund said...

We must fight the evil, Tim.

I don't agree with the views of Disney and Ignatius.

To just stand idle by and hope things will be better if we do not act, is not an option.

It didn't work with Hitler.

And Ahmadinejad is also a crazy tyrant who wants nuclear war with the whole western world.

He has clearly expressed he wants to annihilate the western world, and now he is only a few months away from having nuclear arms.

Our inaction today will destroy our cities tomorrow.

What is extra tragic in all this, is that we here in the European Union unfortunately supports the Palestinians with hundreds of millions of Euros, and now they are being sent to Iran to clear the streets there from protester and also to loot shops.

Bosk said...

Of course Obama's helping.
Registration fraud.
Voter fraud.
Does acorn have an office in Tehran?
This has Chicago style politics written all over it.

Kevin Robbins said...

Does it bother anyone here that many of these brave Iranians that are in the streets protesting would already be dead or wounded, if the bombing attacks that most of you favored, by the US or Israel had occurred?

Or is that just breaking a few eggs to make an omelet?

cracker said...

ex DLB!

put the mirror down!!!.....

my EYEEEESSSSSSS ....Ahhhhhhhhh!

(cut to....blinded frankenstein monster, crashing about in burning laboratory)

Rich Casebolt said...

Gentlemen ... if we could bomb the snot out of Saddam's palaces and military installations, while leaving the lights on in the residential sections of Baghdad ... I think we could handle neutralizing Iran's military capabilities when the need rises, without creating a sequel to Dresden or Hiroshima.*

Also keep in mind that a lot of the damage to civilians in Iraq was the result of enemy (including Quds) action - not the application of American ordinance.

Maybe you should quit your stereotyping ... and/or declaring that a return to the same ol' combination of realpolitik and appeasement is "new".

* that is, unless Leftist INACTION ends up putting our backs against the wall ...

Kevin Robbins said...

So, all those folks out protesting Ahmadinejad's "victory" would likely welcome our cruise missiles of liberation because of their precision. Interesting theory. I'm thinking that if they were polled, they might reject it. That doesn't matter, though, does it?

Tim said...

Rich: I hear what you are saying, just not sure what the right course of action is, other than just some harsh words.

What, exactly, are you advocating?