Monday, June 22, 2009


Protestors and demonstrators in Iran took to the streets defying orders from the Ayatollah Kahmanei to stay off the streets and were heard chanting "Death to Kahmanei".

What most observers who understand internal Iranian politics are saying is that what we are now seeing in Iran is unprecedented. It is the single biggest taboo to challenge the authority of Iran's supreme leader and that is exactly what the demonstrators are doing.

The consensus among those who understand the culture and politics of Iran is the demonstrators have crossed a point of no return. Robin Wright, who has written extensively on Iran for years said on CNN that she believes Kahmanei is fighting for his political life. And she as well as others have said this is no longer about the election. It's become much bigger. It has become what the system of government in Iran is going to be.

And while other European leaders and even the US Congress have made their condemnation of the current government and their actions clear and have voiced clear support for the demonstrators, Obama has chosen to take the " I don't want to be seen as meddling" approach and has watched it all from the sidelines. As events in Iran become more dramatic, Obama's position has gotten to the point where it's becoming increasingly irrelevant.

Iran has already come out and condemned France, Great Britain and Germany for their "meddling" statements. So what does Obama think? That by trying to stay in the good graces of an oppressive and now murderous regime he is somehow going to affect change through negotiation?

Change is occuring within Iran without Obama.With the protestors having crossed a line of no return experts say it is not going to be possible for the ruling mullahs in Iran to hold onto power without unleashing the worst violence against their own people that the middle east has seen since Sadaam used chemical weapons to put down a revolt of the Kurds.

So one of two things are going to happen. Either the demonstrators are going to succeed in overthrowing the current government which has already become destabilized, or the conservatives in Iran will unleash an unprecedented bloodbath against the protestors. Either way Obama's position of trying to stay in their good graces for the sake of negotiation has become obsolete, a situation that neither he nor his advisors have been able to recognize.

The other argument being made for Obama's soft pedaling is he doesnt want to be used as a "foil" or an excuse by the current governement to unleash more violence against the demonstrators.

Is he kidding? All he has to do is warn Iran publicly against doing just that and make it clear publicly that the safety of the demonstrators is the responsibility of the Iranian government and that any attempts to use the United States as an excuse to commit murder or human rights violations against its own people will be just that -- an excuse.

To see and read and hear these fumbling excuses by the Obama Administration and Obama himself as to why he has chosen "not to meddle" in an unprecedented revolution by the moderates and liberals in Iran is too reminiscent of the ineptness of George Bush to be believed.

As events continue to unfold in Iran, Obama's position is becoming more and more absurd each passing minute.

The Congress, in response to what they saw as a tepid response from Obama overwhelmingly passed resolutions of support for the demonstrators and condemnation of the current Iranian government. In response, Obama yesterday decided to issue a statement that was stronger than those of the past few days. But his statement that " the whole world is watching" was still typical Obama -- stating the obvious, borrowing the chants of the anti-war demonstrators in the US in the 1960's and telling us what everyone has known for days and hardly needs to be pointed out --- yes the world is watching.

But Obama's decision to sit on the sidelines in order to preserve some future attempt at negotiating with the current regime has been usurped whether he likes it or not. There are already reports that anywhere from 19 to 150 people have been killed by government police and militia. If this continues and the present government cracks down harder on the demonstrators and the violence increases it will be impossible for Obama to "negotiate" anything with the current Iranian government if they succeed in quashing the revolution. Any outstretched hand to this government after a bloodbath will look like the worst kind of appeasement.

Yet all of this represents a golden opportunity for the United States. If the current government becomes destabilized or even toppled, that, and not Obama's "outstretched hand" to a government that chants "Death to America" would be the best chance of a non-nuclear Iran which would be a benefit to the world.

But so far Obama has not seized the opportunity. He insists on giving legitimacy to the current government..The world seems ready to line up against the current Iranian government and their actions as the statements of condemnation from other European countries have shown. Obama could be the one to rally them. Instead he doesn't want to "meddle".

People are taking their lives into their hands to stand up against a repressive government that poses a threat to the whole world and Obama is worried about Iran's reaction to his own response, which when one thinks about it, doesn't bode well for how Obama would handle negotiations with Ahmedenjad anyway.

It should be clear by now that there is a revolution taking place and so far, Obama's approach in trying to preserve a "negotiating" position with the present oppressive government has made him look weak and foolish. Events in Iran will make any attempts at negotiating with the current government impossible in the future. Instead Obama should try and seize this opportunity to rally and lead the rest of the world to condemn the actions of the Iranian goverment . He could call for new supervised elections. He could do a lot of things but he isn't.

The revolution has started without him. Millions of Iranians are demanding change and putting their lives on the line to try and achieve it. .But so far it doesn't seem like change Obama can believe in.

UPDATE: Not to put too fine a point on this, but today (Sunday June 21) Hillary Mann Levit a former foreign policy advisor to the Bush Administration in an interview with CNN said that Obama's earlier statements and his "not meddling" position was the right one to take. She went on to say that his first statement saying that there was no difference between Ahmedenjad and Mousavi and it made no difference to him who was also the right thing to say.

History has shown that George W Bush was without a doubt the most inept and incompetent President in history. He was wrong on every foreign policy decision he ever made and when you have one his advisors saying that Obama has done the right thing, that alone should give Obama cause to reconsider.


John said...

I think that Jimmy Carter still holds the rank of worst president - just my opinion.

Also, doesn't Obama have a date with the Iranian president for hot dogs and fries on the fourth of July? Maybe he doesn't want to mess that up.

susan h said...

The White House just reiterated that there is no thought of taking back the invitation for a July 4 celebration here with the Iranian delegation.

Obama doesn't want to meddle anywhere: If things ultimately go in our favor, he takes credit, if not, no blame. That is how he goes through life and doesn't seem to care about anyone but himself.

BARB said...

Timmerman’s organization, Foundation for Democracy, is funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) for the explicit purpose of promoting democracy in Iran. According to Timmerman, NED money was funneled to “pro-Mousavi groups who have ties to non-governmental organizations outside Iran that the National Endowment for Democracy funds.”

The US media has studiously ignored all of these highly suggestive facts. The media is not reporting or providing objective analysis. It is engaged in a propagandistic onslaught against the Iranian government.

We know that the US funds terrorist organizations inside Iran that are responsible for bombings and other violent acts. It is likely that these terrorist organizations are responsible for the burning buses and other acts of violence that have occurred during the demonstrations in Tehran.

A writer on says that he was intrigued by the sudden appearance of tens of thousands of Twitter allegations that Ahmadinejad stole the Iranian election. He investigated, he says, and he reports that each of the new highly active accounts were created on Saturday, June 13th. “IranElection” is their most popular keyword. He narrowed the spammers to the most persistent: @StopAhmadi,
@IranRiggedElect, and @Change_For_Iran. He researched further and found that On June 14 the Jerusalem Post already had an article on the new twitter. He concludes that the new Twitter sites are propaganda operations.

One wonders why the youth of the world, who do not protest stolen elections elsewhere, are so obsessed with Iran.


John Bolton laid out the US strategy. First we try to destabilize the regime. Failing that, we strike them militarily. As this strategy unfolds, Iranians will pay in lost independence or in blood for the naiveness of its secularized youth and for the mistake the mullahs made in trusting Mousavi.

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration.

Thinker said...

If the new revolution is successful, he's going to figure out a way to take credit for it.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marc Rubin said...

"...It is likely that these terrorist organizations are responsible for the burning buses and other acts of violence that have occurred during the demonstrations in Tehran."

The reports by eye witnesses out of Iran today is that government militia have attacked demonstrators with axes. Its unlikely that these are terrorist organizations outside the government. And the fact that the government is now offering such lame explanations for Neda's shooting (like being mistaken for a terrorsits sister) indicates they know they are responsible.

Anonymous said...

Well, as I predicted, the inevitable crackdown in Iran has begun. The best piece I have read lately comes from the inimitable by Juan Cole:

"....Obama will likely be as helpless before a crackdown by the Iranian regime as Eisenhower was re: Hungary in 1956, Johnson was re: Prague in 1968, and Bush senior was re: Tienanmen Square in 1989. George W. Bush, it should remember, did nothing about Tehran's crackdown on student protesters in 2003 or about the crackdown on reformist candidates, which excluded them from running in the 2004 Iranian parliamentary elections, or about the probably fraudulent election of Ahmadinejad in 2005. It is hard to see what he could have done, contrary to what his erstwhile supporters in Congress now seem to imply. As an oil state, the Iranian regime does not need the rest of the world and is not easy to pressure. So Obama needs to be careful about raising expectations of any sort of practical intervention by the US, which could not possibly succeed. (Despite the US media's determined ignoring the the Afghanistan War, it is rather a limiting factor on US options with regard to Iran.) Moreover, if the regime succeeds in quelling the protests, however odious it is, it will still be a chess piece on the board of international diplomacy and the US will have to deal with it just as it deals with post-Tiananmen China."

That is reality.

Link to full article:

bert in Ohio