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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Iran Update

  • Saturday Protest Size Diminished by Massive, Brutal Police Presence.
  • Obama Speaks.

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Iranian police sit on motorcycles as they face protesters during a demonstration in Tehran on June 20, 2009. Thousands of Iranians clashed with police as they defied an ultimatum from supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for an end to protests over last week's disputed presidential election.


Hard news from Iran is very difficult to get as the Mullah's dictatorship has sought to restrict outside news media coverage and cut links to many internet sites. What we do know is that the demonstrations were smaller on Saturday as most people could not even approach the squares in Tehran where the mass demonstrations of the past week have been held. Police and gangs of armed thugs prevented citizens from gathering and dozens of deaths and widespread violence have been reported.

President Obama, behind the curve of even Democrats in his own party in the House who voted unanimously for a resolution sponsored by Mike Pence, (R-IN) to "Condemn the ongoing violence against demonstrators by the Government of Iran and pro-government militias," finally some additional fortitude Saturday afternoon and released the following statement:

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
_______________________________________________________
For Immediate Release June 20, 2009

Statement from the President on Iran

The Iranian government must understand that the world is watching. We mourn each and every innocent life that is lost. We call on the Iranian government to stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people. The universal rights to assembly and free speech must be respected, and the United States stands with all who seek to exercise those rights.

As I said in Cairo, 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.

Martin Luther King once said - "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." I believe that. 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.


It's clear that Obama had resisted calls for a tougher stance on Iran, coming even from Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Clinton. But as his fantasy of cutting a worthless deal with the Iranian Mullahs on nukes fades, there is hope the President may soon understand that an Iran without the Mullahs would be in the best interests of the United States.

The statement above is a subtle shift from Obama's statements earlier in the week where he repeated the phrase "respect Iranian sovereignty" which is code for respect the dictatorship of the Mullahs. Today's phrase "If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community" is a subtle, but significant shift.

Obama's latest declaration is still a long way from an unambiguous statement of support for the protesters. Rep. Mike Pence, author of the House resolution, made this contrast:


"The President has the right to draw the line where he chooses to draw it but I am someone who believes that when Ronald Reagan went to the Brandenburg Gate, he did not say ‘Mr. Gorbachev, that wall is none of our business.'
An excellent commentary by Rich Lowry:


Obama Shows Naivete on Iran
By Rich Lowry
Real Clear Politics
June 19, 2009

...Obama's timidity speaks to a guilty conscience. At some level, he buys the post-colonial critique of the West as the root of the developing world's troubles, and thinks we lack the moral standing to judge non-Western governments that resent and envy us. Obama is perfectly capable of launching moralistic broadsides - just at his own country, especially under his predecessor. Who are we to condemn the abuse of peaceful demonstrators when we waterboarded three terrorists?

And Obama is so dead-set on negotiating with the current regime, he doesn't want to invest much in the hope of changing it. Obama is often compared to Jimmy Carter, but his approach in Iran is the opposite of Carter's. Carter was deeply moved by human rights and put the possibility of promoting them above other priorities, such as stability and maintaining an ally in Tehran. Obama is putting human rights behind stability, in the ultimate cause of a prospective bargain with the mullahs.

And brilliant as always...
Obama Clueless on Iran
By Charles Krauthammer
Real Clear Politics
June 19, 2009

...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, 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' 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, 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.

Iran's dictatorship is the heart of much of Islamic terrorism and violence throughout the Middle East and the world. Ridding the world of that evil transcends the more narrow concerns about Iranian nuclear development!

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Who stands with the freedom fighters of Iran?

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