Sunday, June 14, 2009

Obama AWOL on Iran

Where is the President?

A rare moment of opportunity for Iran to rejoin the family of nations is at hand. With millions of Iranians in cities and towns across the country protesting what is clearly a stolen election, the time is ripe for all those who support freedom and the peace that comes with it to stand with the demonstrators.

Curt has a full report here. Among many dramatic scenes, the video below stood out:

Iranians stood in their windows and on their rooftops chanting "God is Great" and "Death to the Dictator." It reminds me of that moment in the film "Network" when citizens run to their windows and shout "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore."

In the next few days demonstrations in Iran may grow, or they may fizzle. A moment is at hand that could bring new freedom to Iran and new hopes for peace to the region and the world. So, I must ask the question: Where is the President of the United States?

For years, the United States government, under both political parties, has long sought a positive change in government in Iran that would make it possible to move beyond the Mad Mullahs obsession with terrorism and death. Solving the problem of Iran is a keystone to change throughout the region. Now is the most opportune moment to push forward with welcome statements of support for positive change in Iran.

Thus far, the only official statement from the White House is this:
Statement by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on the Iranian Election
The White House
June 13, 2009

Like the rest of the world, we were impressed by the vigorous debate and enthusiasm that this election generated, particularly among young Iranians. We continue to monitor the entire situation closely, including reports of irregularities.

That's it. Nothing since about the clear longing for freedom and democracy being expressed in the streets. Not a word about the clear fraud that took place in the election.

Obama's speech in Cairo said nothing about the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people we now see so vividly on display. The entire section related to Iran was focused solely on how Obama would deal with the current leadership "without preconditions" on the issues such as nuclear development, which he all but sanctioned.

Democracy was mentioned in Obama's speech, but in a vague, general way. Wouldn't now be a good time to apply those broad principles in a specific context?

Is Obama afraid that if he speaks out forcefully on behalf of freedom and Iran's leaders succeed in clinging to power that they will reject Obama's repeated invitation for talks "without preconditions?"

Obama: Take a leaf from Reagan's Book

In the 2008 U.S. presidential election, Obama liked to remind voters that President Reagan negotiated arms control treaties with the Soviets. Though Obama fails to mention that Reagan indeed had preconditions.

It's worth noting that on Friday, we observed the 22nd anniversary of President Reagan's speech at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin where he let Gorbachev know that if he wanted peace, he must "TEAR DOWN THIS WALL." That thundering denunciation of the most visible symbol of what was the "Evil Empire" did not stop the Soviets from negotiating.

Obama has an opportunity here to be a leader and do the right thing. Thus far, he remains AWOL. Was he too busy on another "date night" to bother?

More reading:
  • Iran Liberals erupt after vote, Sunday Times (UK): "Private polling of 5,000 voters conducted for the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and seen by The Sunday Times, suggested the reformist candidate would win at least 58% of votes across Iran. However, the official result gave him just under 34%."
  • The Iranian Circus III, Michael Ledeen, PJ Media: "Until quite recently, the Iranians did not believe they could do such a thing on their own.... But nobody believes that Obama will help them, and they must know that they are on their own."
  • Mr. President, Another Speech Please, Stephen Hayes, Weekly Standard: "When Barack Obama was elected, his supporters promised that his foreign policy would seek to effect important change in the world without using force, that he would deploy soft power – or, as Hillary Clinton put it during her confirmation, “smart power.”
    Now is the time."

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