What Is The Argument For A Bolder Obama Statement On Iran?

Over at The New Republic, a post by Jonathan Chaite entitled “Will the Conservatives Please Attempt An Argument?

President Obama has taken a cautious tone toward the demonstrators in Iran, with his stated reason being that more open support would discredit their cause. This strikes me as a sensible position. The revealed preferences of both sides suggest a mutual belief that an American embrace would hurt the protestors. The regime is trying (so far, without much success) to tie the demonstrators to the U.S., and the demonstrators are embracing the symbolism of the Iranian revolution (the color green, chants of “Alluah Akbar,” and so on) in order to demonstrate their patriotism and mainstream cultural status.

Still, this kind of judgment about an unfamiliar country’s internal politics is just a guess, and it’s a rebuttable proposition. What’s remarkable to me is that those on the other side refuses to rebut it. Today’s Washington Post op-ed page has two more columns lambasting Obama for failing to embrace the demonstrators. Today’s offerings are by Charles Krauthammer and Paul Wolfowitz. Neither one of them even mentions, let alone answers, Obama’s argument for why embracing the demonstrators would be counterproductive.

I don’t understand how you could write a column without ever once addressing the primary argument for the proposition you’re arguing against. The low quality of argument on this topic from the right is striking.

This is interesting in that for 8 years the Left version of an argument was to throw personal smears, but, regardless, Jonathan barely makes an attempt to argue that Obama is doing the proper thing.

Rick Moran, who, like many Conservatives, goes his own way, seems to agree with Jonathan

But when it comes to Iran, I think Obama – after an inexplicable delay – has got our response to the upheaval there just about right. And when smart guys like Krauthammer and Wolfowitz take him to task for not “standing up” for the demonstrators without once mentioning the unique and painful history of US-Iran relations, it makes me believe that those two gentlemen were attacking the president for the sake of expediency rather than critiquing a policy choice.

Excitable Andy doesn’t even try to make an argument that Obama is doing the correct thing, just throws some smears, which, OK, are a part of politics. Maha follows in Andy’s footsteps, and digs deeper in creating a strawman personal attack, but, can’t actually defend Obama’s “policy.” Interestingly, both Joe Biden and Hillary are pushing POTUS to make a stronger statement. Whatever you may think of the two politically, they both certainly have vastly more experience then Obama in foreign affairs (though, that is not saying much.) Let’s say, they both have vast experience in foreign policy, shall we?

As for the argument, no one is asking Obama to come out and implicitly side with the protesters. OK, some are. As I, and others, have written and stated, it’s not like Mousavi is some unbelievable reformer. There are others in the race who actually were much more “liberal” in at least their internal policies. Mousavi is a bit more easy going then Amhadinejad, but, let’s not forget who is behind everything. The mullahs.

What we would like is for Obama to express at least some support for the freedom and fairness that the protesters want. We would like him to show some backbone, some boldness in standing up for more openness, more freedom, more democracy. Life, Liberty, the Pursuit of Happiness. Interestingly, how often have we seen signs such as this during the demonstrations?

Signs in English are obviously a plea for leaders in the Western world to pick a side, to acknowledge the plight of the Iranian people. The world can be a big, bad scary place. There are times when a more neutral approach is called for, and times when leaders need to take a stand and be bold. Reagan wasn’t neutral when he visited Germany and said “General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall” It was bold. He took a stand. Interestingly, Obama is more then willing to meddle in the affairs of Israel, but, not in a brutal Islamic regime cracking down with violence and murder on people looking for a little more freedom.

This is bold

In the strongest message yet from the U.S. government, the House voted 405-1 Friday to condemn Tehran’s crackdown on demonstrators and the government’s interference with Internet and cell phone communications.

The Senate voted to condemn, as well. Bold. Regardless of what Obama does or doesn’t do, Iran will blame the United States. They care little whether it is Bush or Obama. And, whether or not Obama gets it or not, he is POTUS, and people around the world look to what the United States does. Obama famously said “Just Words,” implying that words have meaning. And they do. Now is the time for those words.

Porter Good AKA William Teach

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