President Obama on Saturday called on the Iranian government to "stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people" amid calls for the White House to go further in showing support for the Iranian people after the country's disputed elections.
Republicans, in particular, have pressed Obama to speak out more forcefully, as protesters and authorities clashed Saturday in Tehran during a government crackdown.
"The universal rights to assembly and free speech must be respected and the United States stands with all who seek to exercise those rights," Obama said in a written statement.
Obama also referred back to his speech this month to the Muslim world, saying "suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. The Iranian people will ultimately judge the actions of their own government. If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect the dignity of its own people and govern through consent, not coercion."
And Obama cited the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s, famous quote: "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."
"I believe that," Obama said. "The international community believes that. And right now, we are bearing witness to the Iranian peoples' belief in that truth, and we will continue to bear witness."
Republicans, who have pushed Obama to speak out more forcefully against Tehran's crackdown on protesters, said the president's statement was long overdue, coming a day after Congress passed a resolution condemning the crackdown on protesters.
"The Obama administration took a first step today," California Rep. Darrell Issa told FOX News. "Obviously, Congress was well ahead of the president. I think the president is playing catch-up."
Issa said the president, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other Obama officials should make a series of additional statements to demonstrate when the United States stands.
"You have to support these people whose aspirations are only freedom," he said.
Before Obama's statement, Republicans had called on him to send a clear message
Technically Opinion, but is SO appropriate here.
President Obama has largely drawn praise for his tepid response to the mass uprisings in Iran challenging the reelection of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In general, Obama has offered three justifications for his tentativeness -- and they have strangely been accepted by his supporters, who almost immediately evolved in lockstep from liberal Wilsonians to hardcore realists.
Here are Obama's three justifications:
1. Given the historical record of U.S. intervention in Iran, we do not wish either to perpetuate that shameful record, or to hang on the necks of the dissidents the smelly albatross of U.S. support.
2. We don't know which side will emerge triumphant. Supporting losers in the street will only antagonize the Ahmadinejad regime and render Obama's ongoing diplomatic overtures null and void.
3. There is not much difference anyway between the agendas of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and those of his challengers, led by Mir-Hossein Mousavi Khameneh. No matter who wins, Iran will still have an overtly anti-American government bent on acquiring nuclear weapons. Why then incur further hostility for a response that would bring no advantage anyway?
There are a number of things wrong with all this -- well aside from the strange spectacle of seeing once-fervent liberal critics of old-style Kissingerian realism suddenly espousing Barack Obama's kinder, gentler version of it.
1. The coup that unseated Mohammad Mossadeq was in 1953 -- nearly six decades ago. Its details are still controversial: the proportional degree of CIA intervention compared to that of the British, the role of fundamentalist clerics in the opposition, the degree to which Mossadeq himself entertained authoritarian measures, and so on. What Kermit Roosevelt Jr. did or did not do as the CIA officer in charge, what were the actual intentions of the Mossadeq government in the Soviet-American Cold War rivalry -- all of that is all now in the distant past.
Blaming America for undermining Mossadeq but not blaming it for later undermining the Shah is about as logical as claiming we must hold the current generations of Japanese accountable for Pearl Harbor, or that German actions in World War II permanently warped the American psyche, or that the Chinese Communists' butchering thousands of Americans in Korea must be held against current generations of Chinese. At some point, all nations, big and small, need to get a life and move on. Of course, when one rushes in and blabbers out apologies without context, then one becomes a prisoner of those past actions -- we are to be sorry about Iran then and so must be sorry ever after.
Iran, remember, has no such reluctance about meddling. It endorsed Bush in the 2004 presidential race -- to the delight of the Kerry campaign. For six years, it has tried to murder Americans in Iraq and destabilize the Iraqi democracy. It has killed Americans in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, and done its best to thwart democratic government in Afghanistan, Lebanon, and Iraq. How odd that Iranian theocrats have no worries about violently overthrowing democracy abroad, while we are terrified of supporting democracy by words alone.
Criticizing the Ahmadinejad government for its election fraud and its response to peaceful demonstrations is not synonymous with crudely egging on street demonstrations. Reagan found a way to voice support for the Polish resistance to Soviet thuggery. Kennedy made sure that the Berliners knew that we believed they were right and the Soviet-sponsored East German Communists wrong.
In contrast, Ford's calculated snub of Solzhenitsyn brought no gratitude from the Soviets, but plenty of shame to America. The elder Bush's allegiance to Gorbachev over Yeltsin was finally embarrassing, and was rendered obsolete almost before it was embraced. To the extent that George W. Bush spoke out against autocracy in the Gulf and Egypt, he was to be praised, and some liberalization followed; but to the extent that he grew quiet in his second term, we were branded as hypocrites for supporting freedom in Iraq but not elsewhere in the Arab world.
Support for the reformers can be framed in terms of shared criticism of what we and they oppose, rather than clumsy cheering for their own agenda.
2. Voicing careful and wise support for the challenge to Ahmadinejad's thuggery can influence events. That's why the European Union is well ahead of us in its condemnation of the Iranian election fraud and subsequent crackdown.
Ahmadinejad is going to blame the U.S. whatever it does. He rightly sized up the new administration and realized there is now an American government that will apologize for the CIA's actions in 1953, but not ask Iran to apologize for its deplorable record in Iraq from 2003 to 2009. So it is a one-way street with Iran, and it's better to be damned for voicing criticism than for being afraid to voice criticism.
The Iranian theocrats are realists par excellence; they do not give a damn about ideals or morality, and will deal with us in the future on their perception of their own self-interest: whether or not we "meddle" now, if they find it useful to talk in the future, they will; if they find it of no value to talk in the future, they won't.
3. Obama's third assumption makes even less sense than the first two. Mousavi may be a past supporter of Khomeinism, as are ostensibly all Iranian politicians. But he is not on a moral or even a practical par with Ahmadinejad. He has already voiced criticism of Holocaust denial, and has called for freer expression and communication, and for liberalization of Iranian theocratic law. In other words, he is a type of multicultural "other" who is a rational opponent of U.S. policy, but whom Obama actually could court.
Furthermore, the crowds seem already to have transcended Mousavi, seeing in him more a tool than a totem, hoping that his election would lead to far more liberalization than even he intended. One of the reasons Gorbachev was welcomed by Reagan was that he began to initiate change that would soon render Gorbachev himself obsolete. The same may well be true with Mousavi.
In conclusion, we are seeing a new multicultural realism in American foreign policy -- the result of a number of currents in our popular culture. We do not judge the authoritarian "other" in the same way in which we judge authoritarian conservatives abroad who ape Westernism.
There is also a weird sort of multicultural fantasy about cleric-ruled Iran, fueled by the non-Western dress of its elites, the constant evocation of 1953 (ironically by fundamentalists whose forefathers approved of Mossadeq's removal), and its serial Hollywood-like denunciation of America. Ahmadinejad brilliantly ties into the Che effect, which makes his blood-curdling remarks about Israel's end about as disturbing to American public opinion as the fact that Che himself was a cold-blooded killer who executed the innocent with his own hands. Add it all up and we get a reprise of Bill Clinton at Davos in 2005 gushing on about Iranian democracy and its progressives, as if a rigged plebiscite overseen by a group of unshaven dictators in Nehru-like coats is somehow neat.
Iraq explains a lot -- and provides the greatest irony of all. We wish not to meddle in Iran in order to encourage real democracy there, but we accept Iranian meddling intended to destroy Iraqi democracy. We reach out to the Shiite thug Ahmadinejad in Iran, but not to the Shiite moderate Maliki in Iraq. We feel so guilty about promoting Iraqi democracy that we won't aid its budding counterpart in nearby Iran. We are so wedded to the canard that the removal of Saddam removed the counterweight to Iran and empowered the clerics that we cannot see the existence of Iraqi democracy as a great catalyst to the democratic forces in Iran, undermining the theocracy more with words than Iran could undermine the Iraqi democracy with guns.
Then, of course, there is Obama and his quest for a global messianic rather than an American presidential role. So far it pays to be Hamas and the Palestine Authority rather than Israel, Chavez rather than Uribe, Ahmadinejad rather than Maliki, Putin rather than an Eastern European elected prime minister, a Turkish Islamist rather than a Greek elected prime minister. The former all gain attention by their hostility, the latter earn neglect by their moderation and generally pro-American views. Praising Islam abroad is a lot more catchy than praising democracy -- one boldly inspires Bush's critics, the other sheepishly dovetails with Bush's agenda. All that, in varying degrees, also explains the troubling neglect of the Iranians in the street.
One mystery remains: Does Obama do this because the squeaky problem gets the attention, or does he really empathize with the tired anti-colonial, anti-imperialist, and anti-capitalist refrain of those who used to be considered hostile?
Any thoughtful analysis of Barry's intentions on Iraq or nearly anything else must be based upon one overiding premise. He has no long game or long term goals per se, other than the callaping of America and reshaping her into a helpless, governmentally dependent, socialist utopia.
Excellent. Much more compelling than "Senator" Boxer
Posted by: regular joe ||
06/20/2009 8:06 Comments ||
Bush asked that he be addressed as President, not sir.
Army protocol manual says Senators be addressed as such, not sir and especially not ma'am.
Many women take Boxer's side, finding the general and all who side with him to be chauvinist pr*cks who don't want to give women respect for their accomplishments.
I think virtually all big time politicians are pr*cks, whether ma'ams or sirs, and deserve no respect. Hence, use the full title just like when you dress down your misbehavin' child you use first, middle and last name, or at least I did.
While I personally think this little tiff is much ado about nothing; I am struck by the portion of Ms. Boxer's comment ... "I worked so hard to get that title" ... What "real" work did she perform to get the title? Like most politicians, she seems to care more about the appearance of governing / leading than actually doing something positive for her country.
After 27 years of military service, this is all beyond me. We are trained to say sir or Maam. This is not a chavaunist act, it is an act of respect. Boxer and her supporters are just platforming their disgust for the military in a manner that most Americans do not understand in the military. This is a culture of respect, Boxer know damn well that he would answer like that. Now she gets fifteen mimutes on MSM and smears the military its a win win for her.
Posted by: 49 Pan ||
06/20/2009 18:04 Comments ||
Boxer is as dumb as a bag of hammers. Her condescending tone is classic Boxer. She loathes the military. She has a real chance of being ousted if the CA GOP runs someone with a brain, as I believe the CA Donk party has possibly trashed themselves with the economic downfall and tax issues. BTW - don't blame San Diego, we vote military
Posted by: Frank G ||
06/20/2009 18:25 Comments ||
interesting that foremost on her mind is not the issue at handle but her status...of course that's why she is one of the three Axis of Sheville of California...the others Pelosi and Feinstein.
Posted by: jack salami ||
06/20/2009 19:21 Comments ||
At this period in time being called Maam would be a step up from being called a Senator
A multi-volume chronology and reference guide set detailing three years of the Mexican Drug War between 2010 and 2012.
Rantburg.com and borderlandbeat.com correspondent and author Chris Covert presents his first non-fiction work detailing
the drug and gang related violence in Mexico.
Chris gives us Mexican press dispatches of drug and gang war violence
over three years, presented in a multi volume set intended to chronicle the death, violence and mayhem which has
dominated Mexico for six years.