Wednesday, July 1, 2009


In a speech to Iranian judiciary officials on Saturday, Ahmadinejad, Iran's disputed president, said he was "astonished" over what he said was Obama's interference in Iran's election .

Ahmadinejad, as if to rub salt in the wound also added, "They keep saying that they want to hold talks with Iran. All right, we have expressed our readiness as well. But is this the correct way? Definitely, they have made a mistake. They have revealed their intentions before the Iranian nation, before the world nations. Their mask has been removed. "

The statement makes Obama's position of the last two weeks and those who defended it as being "pitch perfect" left with diplomatic egg on their faces and leaves Obama with the worst of all worlds.

For two weeks Obama gave tepid,meaningless responses to the events in Iran because he didn't want to be seen as "meddling" to preserve some kind of undefined negotiating position while demonstrators protesting a clearly rigged election were murdered and beaten in the streets of Tehran. And the result of Obama's approach? He is accused by Ahmadinejad of meddling anyway with Ahmadinejad turning Obama's own words against him.

Obama's approach seemed like a diplomatic farce and a pragmatic disaster from the beginning as I and others pointed out two weeks ago. And now Obama looks weak and ineffectual on all fronts.

There were many things Obama could have said that would have put the Iranian government on the defensive, strengthened his own negotiating position and supported the demonstrators and the democratic institutions demonstrators like Neda sought. There were also actions Obama could have threatened (and still can) if he was able to rally other governments (either with the UN or without) to the cause. He did none of that. Instead he decided he didn't want to be seen as meddling and gets accused of it anyway.

On Friday with German Chancellor Merkel at his side, Obama called the violence against the demonstrators "outrageous". Why its outrageous now and not two weeks ago? When he was asked that very question at last weeks press conference he gave the preposterous answer that all of his statements had been consistent from the beginning.

Obama, after his meeting with Merkel also said " despite the government's efforts to keep the world from bearing witness to the violence, we see it and we condemn it." Okay, okay, he sees violence and he condemns violence. We get it.

Then Obama actually did put his foot in his mouth and gave Iran good cause to accuse him of interfering when he said it was "absolutely clear" that Mir Hossein Moussavi, has "captured the imagination or the spirit of forces within Iran" .

Obama again missed the point. The turmoil in Iran wasn't about someone capturing anyone's imagination. It was about the likelihood that the election was rigged, and that those demonstrating against a rigged election have been beaten, murdered, and terrorized.

Obama is clearly grasping for something to say and has no idea what it is because nothing he has to say comes from within.It's always based on politics. His statement about Neda, the Iranian woman whose murder was recorded on a cell phone video and shown around the world was so meaningless and empty it would have been better had he said nothing.When asked his reaction to the video of her murder Obama said it was heartbreaking, then added "Anyone who sees it knows there was something fundamentally unjust about it".

Fundamentally unjust? All he has to say is that there is something "fundamentally unjust" about murder?

With German Chancellor Merkel present, Obama went on to say Friday that both countries "share the belief that what's happened in Iran is unacceptable when it comes to violence against its own citizens."

Unless Obama is prepared to back up what he means by "unacceptable", that statement is meaningless also, and for now leaves us with two presidents -- one with egg on his face, and the other, Ahmadinejad, with blood on his hands.


Anonymous said...

When Obama says he has always said something from the beginning, you can be pretty darn sure he's lying. He does it every time. He thinks we're stupid and that the press will not check it out.

sue said...

And anonymous- the press aides him in the notion that no one will verify the facts. He has the media in his back pocket- so no one ever does question him- and when there have been one or two brave journalists who ask for clarification- they are practically mocked by him with a follow up from Gibbsy.
Disgraceful is the word that I have consistently used. And you can verify that one!!!
Thanks Marc

susan h said...

He may have the U.S. press in his back pocket, but he does not seem to have as many others as he would have hoped for. I think Europeans and now the president of Iran see Obama for just what he is: a fraud and lightweight. His foreign policy consisting of: "Play nice boys and girls" to dictators is not working. He tried the nicey nicey I love islam, and Ahmadinejad doesn't respond to it. By trying to turn America into just another player, rather than a superpower, Obama has put himself down and his international leadership may not be required as much as he would like.

Anonymous said...

“There were many things Obama could have said ………..There were also actions Obama could have threatened (and still can) ……………..”

Why don’t you delineate those statements and those actions he should have taken? Tell us exactly what he should have said and tell us exactly what he should have done.

Then when you and Obama are through with talking to and taking actions upon Iran and Ahmadinejad you can both make statements and take actions on these dictators (listed below) who are just as bad, and some worse, than Iran and Ahmadinejad. Then maybe some day we will be rid of all evil dictators and human rights abusers and we can all live happily ever after in Utopia.

Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe

Omar Al-Bashir, Sudan

Kim Jong-Il, North Korea

Than Shwe, Myanmar

King Abdullah, Saudi Arabia

Hu Jintao, China

Isayas Afewerki, Eritrea

G. Berdymuhammedov, Turkmenistan

Muammar al-Qaddafi, Libya

Islam Karimov, Uzbekistan

Bashar al-Assad, Syria

Raúl Castro, Cuba

Teodoro Obiang Nguema, Equatorial Guinea

Aleksandr Lukashenka, Belarus

Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia

Idriss Déby, Chad

King Mswati III, Swaziland

Paul Biya, Cameroon

Hosni Mubarak, Egypt

bert in Ohio (not part of the dictator list, but just a strong woman)

Anonymous said...

Great post, marc, as usual. BO's hypocrisy knowns no bounds. His milquetoast remarks re the situation in Iran were an abjectly inappropriate attempt to put pure PR spin on a dangerous, dire and tragic situation. When the rest of the world (and America) need him to speak out in support of human rights like a true leader of the free world, he gives us his trademark doublespeak pablum. The real irony is that BO has the gall to speak out at all against any dictator, given the dictatorial, thuglike manner in which he obtained and wields the Presidency.

Unknown said...

Actually Obama's first response to the 'Neda' video was that it was 'heartbreaking', the same adjective Bill Clinton used when asked about the "Muhammad Jamal al-Durrah" video.

Marc Rubin said...

"Actually Obama's first response to the 'Neda' video was that it was 'heartbreaking',"

Just for the record, I did point that out.

"When asked his reaction to the video of her murder Obama said it was heartbreaking.."

Marc Rubin said...

"Why don’t you delineate those statements and those actions he should have taken? Tell us exactly what he should have said and tell us exactly what he should have done."

Ive done it so many times its why its so pathetic so see him do nothing.

"But getting tough on Iran now and imposing harsh economic sanctions would, if Obama did want to negotiate,at least give Obama something to give -- easing of sanctions -- in return for a nuclear deal."

?There were also actions Obama could have threatened (and still can) if he was able to rally other governments (either with the UN or without) to the cause."

This could be oil embargos which would strangle Iran, and sanctions with or without the UN. He could isolate the current government by trying to get other middle eastern countries that see Iran as a threat on board. he could have demanded that Neda's murderer be brought to justice since the government can easily find out who did it, which would have one upped Ahmadinejad, and he could have shown Ahmadinejad that if they negoitate he is not going to be a pushover.

The fact that you even ask what could have been done as if the answer is nothing shows you are not grasping who and what the repressive Iranian government is and the opportunity this turmoil has presented. But then neither has Obama.

By the way I could list many more things but I think there is enough.
And the results of Obama's tepid "I dont want to be seen as meddling" speak for themselves.

Marc Rubin said...

P.S. He also could have slammed them for human rights violations and challenged them to prove to the people of their own country that the election was legitimate.

The demonstrations have shown there are tens of millions of moderates in Iran who are repressed by the current government. Anything that weakens the current government is a plus.

susan h said...

FYI: Article at RBO (the Real Barack Obama)

They have passed some legislation for an islamic holiday in NY which will fall on Sept. 11, 2016. It's beyond disgusting!

Anonymous said...

Part 1

What arrogance to think that I do not know how repressive and evil the Iran theocracy is. My point has never been about the Iranian theocracy. I have never said that the Iranian government is not evil, repressive, and abusive of its citizens.

My point is that Obama is not going to change no mater how much you rant. My point is that Iran is not going to change no matter how much you rant. My point is that both America and the media have a sketchy and selective record of supporting human rights and if we really cared we about human rights we would go after all dictators. My point is that if America encourages Iranians to continue their protests it will most likely bring on a more repressive crackdown and more people will be tortured and killed.

Obama lost the battle with Iran during the 2008 primary campaign the very first time he said he wanted to make nice with Iran and other repressive regimes. It was then that Kahameni and Ahmajineiddad took his measure. If you could loose a chess game in one move, Obama did it on this issue. He painted himself into a corner before he was even elected.

Obama just does not have the experience to know how to deal with these kinds of governments and situations. He does not have the personality for it or the intestinal fortitude to for it. While not a stupid man, he just does not have the type of intelligence needed to deal with the likes of Kahamenei and Ahmajinedad.

Once Obama was in the White House and continued with that make nice nonsense he locked himself in even further. No matter what he said or did about the fraudulent election Ahmajinedad did had him by the balls. If he made weak statements about the protestors he would have continued to be seen as weak by the Iranian theocracy. If he made a strong statement at the beginning of the protests Ahmajinedad would accuse him of breaking his promise and acting just like Bush. He was dammed if he did and dammed if he didn’t. And either way Obama and his administration would be accused of interfering in the election of a sovereign nation, which is exactly what occurred. Now when, if, we try to get the Iranians to the table America is in a weakened position with regard to Iran’s goal of becoming nuclear. Obama got played big time by Kahamenei and Ahmajinedad. It is what America gets for electing such an inexperienced neophyte.

bert in Ohio

Anonymous said...

Part 2

As for sanctions, there are currently sanctions against Iran. How are those working out? Have they softened the hard line positions of the mullahs and Ahmajinedad? Many experts think that sanctions do not work in any event, and end up punishing ordinary citizens far more than they hurt any government or government officials. And seldom do sanctions lead to success in policy goals. Sanctions have not worked in Korea either. We all know how much our sanctions hurt Iraq while Saddam was still alive.

If you want accolades for your moral superiority of being on the side of fair elections, Bravo! If you want praise for standing up for human rights, Bravo! Sometimes human rights campaigns work, i.e. South Africa. (FYI: I even carried signs outside their embassy in Washington in the eighties among other activities.) But more often these type campaigns do not work. There is no opportunity in Iran right now as you claim. It will take a lot of behind the scenes work to get to a point where the world can move Iran. Iran is not even close to being there right now. My best guess is that the most we can expect from Iran at this point in time is what happened in China after Tiananmen. The regime will crack down in the short term, but will slowly make some internal changes in the long term and will loosen up in some small areas that do not threaten the theocracy. If there is any winner in this entire affair it is the Iranian Revolutionary Guard which was tasked with the job to quell the disturbances and save the mullahs. Their success now makes Iran more a military dictatorship than religious dictatorship. This is not good for any one, especially America. So I think it is in every one’s best interest to ratchet down the rhetoric.

bert in Ohio

Mary Ellen/Nunly said...

We can't expect anything but empty rhetoric coming from Obama because he's nothing more than an empty suit. He throws around ridiculous platitudes like "fundamentally unjust" when talking about the death of a woman who was a true hero...unlike Obama or his so-called "Progressives" who wouldn't know truth or bravery if it hit them in their drooling faces.

Besides, how can Obama speak about flawed elections when he and the Democratic Party ran the biggest farce of an election I've ever seen? Anything he says just shows what a freakin' lying hypocrite he is.

Marc Rubin said...

"What arrogance to think that I do not know how repressive and evil the Iran theocracy is.. My point is that Iran is not going to change no matter how much you rant. "

I know you think you know a lot but you still miss the point.Our interest in Iran is to keep them from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Period. There are only three ways to do that, war, negotiation. or change the Iranian government.

In the case of the last two, the demonstrations represented the best opportunity to affect change, either by empowering the moderates including the clerics to challenge the present government or overthrow it, or use the brutality against the demonstrators to impose harsh sanctions against Iran which can be used as a negotiating tool later. Both stratgeies require speaking out, getting tough and rallying the rest of the world governments to the cause which wouldnt be that hard. Obama has employed neither strategy and has given up a negotiating position and gotten nothing in return.

Thanks for your rant.

Anonymous said...

So Marc, are you are saying that you want regime change? Do you want the U.S. or the world to effect change in Iran? Didn't we try that with a war in Iraq? And didn't democrats and progressives and leftists rant and rave and critize Bush and republicans for trying to effect regime change? Sounds to me there is some inconsistency here - regime change is OK if you want it and if it is effected without war. Is that it?

bert in Ohio