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Monday, June 15, 2009

He Who Cannot Stop Talking, Is Silent On Iran

Barack Obama's proclivity to talk endlessly, particularly on television, has earned the mockery of supporters such as Bill Maher. But on what may be the most important evolving events in a generation, Obama is silent.

As hundreds of thousands of Iranians protest fraudulent elections, and demand reform, Obama and his administration have been eerily silent. Even as protesters have sought a sign of support from the United States, the administration creates the appearance of leaving the protesters to the devices of the brutal Iranian regime. While it is a fair point that Obama should not be seen to meddle, a few words of support could make all the world of difference.

A less militant Iran, and an opening of Iranian society to the West, could make all the difference in the coming decades. A chance not only to avoid a confrontation over Iran's nuclear weapons program, but also a decline in the divisive influence of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, and their proxies, throughout the world.

But upsetting the status quo, in the short run, may cause more disruption. I cannot help the feeling that the Obama administration seeks stability abroad above all else, so that domestic priorities can be pursued. Even if that means throwing Iranians under the bus along with Venezuelans.

Additional Thoughts, in no particular order:

  • The argument that silence is best, is not irrational; I just don't agree with it. There is a middle ground between silence and creating a provocation to be exploited by the regime. We elect a President to make that hard call, at 3 a.m. or whenever.
  • Those who contend that the election was valid ignore the widespread belief in Iran that the election was tainted. Contray to an article in Politico, Ahmadinejad won. Get over it, we are not relying on the tainted opinions of "American Iran Experts." And by the way, the author of that article is an advocate of a "grand bargain" with Iran which would maintain the current state of the Iranian regime in perpetuity. This "grand bargain" theory ignores that the Iranian mullahtocracy is anti-democratic, hostile to the U.S., and can survive only by oppressing its own people. If the Iranian people voluntarily and freely choose such imprisonment, that is their choice; but the current turmoil indicates that is not what a large percentage of Iranians want.
  • Iraq: I think what you are seeing is the inevitable pressure that a free Iraq is placing on Iranian society. I'll post more on this later, hopefully.
  • Those who argue that the Iranian election makes no difference because the opposition candidate was approved by the Mullahs, and has a hard line history, ignore the present. Much like peaceful revolutions in other repressive countries, once the forces of reform and openness are released in a repressive society, the reaction is hard to control. That is what the Mullahs fear most from the opposition and the protests.

UPDATE: Obama made a statement early this evening in the course of meeting with the Italian Prime Minister. I will post the text when I have it. Obama made the point that "the world is watching" and specifically reached out to the students in Iran. Obama specifically noted that he could not remain silent in light of the violence he has seen on the television.

Here are the relevant portions of the transcript:

Obviously all of us have been watching the news from Iran. And I want to start off by being very clear that it is up to Iranians to make decisions about who Iran's leaders will be; that we respect Iranian sovereignty and want to avoid the United States being the issue inside of Iran, which sometimes the United States can be a handy political football -- or discussions with the United States.

Having said all that, I am deeply troubled by the violence that I've been seeing on television. I think that the democratic process -- free speech, the ability of people to peacefully dissent -- all those are universal values and need to be respected. And whenever I see violence perpetrated on people who are peacefully dissenting, and whenever the American people see that, I think they're, rightfully, troubled....

And particularly to the youth of Iran, I want them to know that we in the United States do not want to make any decisions for the Iranians, but we do believe that the Iranian people and their voices should be heard and respected.

Related Posts:
Is A Free Iraq Coming Home To Roost In Iran?
Ahmadinejad Stole The Election, Just Like Bush

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  1. Barry the bus driver strikes again. All that pro-muslim rhetoric for what? More empty words from a strawman.

  2. All his tel-O-prompters are previously booked

  3. And precisely what gain would there be for anyone were Obama to comment one way or another? Shall we promise aid (like Hungary '56)? Shall we declare solidarity (as with the opposition to Chavez a couple of years back)? Or possibly prepare to help out, as in Mogadishu? Just maybe keeping our mouths shut while a developing situation develops is the prudent thing to do.

  4. @Red: look up correct of "strawman," then repost.

    Prof. Jacobson: you said it! Obama shouldn't be seen to meddle. The US has meddled enough in domestic affairs in Iran, and I'll bet that everyone over there - from Ahmadinejad to Moussawi to the girl wearing green protesting to the baton-wiedlding Basiji - is a) quite awake to that and b) bitter.

    It's been mere hours since all this began, and you've already run out of patience? This post is a bit premature.

  5. Mere hours? The only thing going on for 'mere hours' is the lame news coverage, who pretty much completely missed the first two days.

    If the so-called president of the U.S. will not speak out in favor of democracy, will his sheeple finally start to realize it's because he doesn't support democracy in any way, shape or form?

  6. PLEASE comment on the brewing scandal involving the Inspector General for Americorps being dismissed ! Sickening !!!!

  7. Obama's dug himself into a hole. By initially supporting Ahmadinajad he now cannot step right up and condemn him without looking like the weak and waffler president he is.

  8. Why should Obama comment on an election which may, or may not have been rigged?

    Am I missing the evidence that proves this election was a fraud? I mean their are a lot of accusations, but where is the proof? If their is no proof, then why risk supporting the losing side? That seems like an incredibly stupid thing to do. That would be like invading a country without getting proof they had WMD's. Just a stupid, stupid thing to do.

    As for why Obama hasn't said anything let me alter a quote of his. "I havn't commented on Iran because I like to know what I'm talking about before I speak."

  9. He needs to shut up and go away. Some of us are sick to death of him already. He talks and we just hear "blahblahblah."

  10. President Obama is doing exactly the right thing... nothing.

    We have direct experience of what happens when we meddle in Iranian affairs.

    Why does the right and neocons specifically have such selective memory?

    My goodness doesn't anyone remember the Shaw of Iran?

    He was that result of American and British covert operations ending in the 1953 coup d'etat... which of course was all about oil.

    Google "Operation Ajax" the history is there and it's been well documented.

    The Iranians certainly remember.

    The "blow-back of all that is we got the Ayatollah Khomeini

    I'm a simple guy that earned a GED in the military, I don't know how the professor does not know or remember this history.

    Maybe he's just taking this as another opportunity to bash President Obama.

    America does not need to be involved with Iranian internal affairs... AMERICA HAS MADE THAT MISTAKE BEFORE.


  11. DaveMartin7777 - no one is talking about engineering a coup. We're talking about taking a public position, which Obama now has done as of a few hours ago.

  12. And this business about Obama and teleprompters... give me a break.

    President Obama speaks often and eloquently without notes.

    The right is so hooked on this "teleprompter" meme... it just shows how completely out of touch with realty the far right has become.

    But please keep it up... it just shows how petty and mean the far right-wing can be.

    What to speak of a comparison of President Obama's speaking ability to the previous President... it's just completely laughable.