President Obama’s lack of support for a popular uprising for democracy is finding critics both inside and outside of the US.
The Foreign Policy policy website published an interview with Mohsen Makhmalbaf who is the external spokesman of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi. Mohsen had an angry response to President Barack Obama’s recent comments about the demonstrations in Tehran.
FP: There has been growing criticism here in Washington that U.S. President Barack Obama hasn’t said or done enough to support those demonstrating in the streets of Iran. Do you think Obama is being too careful? Or even that he is helping Ahmadinejad by being cautious?
MM: Obama has said that there is no difference between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi. Does he like it himself [when someone is] saying that there is no difference between Obama and [George W.] Bush? Ahmadinejad is the Bush of Iran. And Mousavi is the Obama of Iran
He goes on to criticize those (like Obama?) who feel that the rebellion in Iran is simply an internal Iranian matter:
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FP: Does Mousavi have a message that he’d like to deliver to the international community?
MM: [He asks] that the governments [of the world] pay attention to the people in the streets and do not recognize the government of Ahmadinejad as the representative of Iran — [that they] do not recognize the government of Ahmadinejad as a legitimate government. Iran is a very important country in the region, and the changes in Iran could have an influence everywhere. So as a result, it’s not only an internal matter — it’s an international problem. If Iran could be a democratic Islamic country, that would be a pattern, a role model, for other Islamic countries. And even if Iran has a terrorist image [today], it would be a model for other countries [in the future].
Unlike many of our allies the President has kept his head deeply in the sand. This is the President who claims that he will restore morality to American foreign policy. That same president has abdicated his moral responsibility. Rather than give a statement that reflects support for freedom and democracy, Obama is not willing to confront the obviously faked election or say anything in support of those in Iran who are fighting for their rights.
Columnist Charles Krauthammer agrees:
….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 Iraq establishing 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 we stand with demonstrators opposing a regime that is the antithesis of all we believe.
And where is our president? Afraid of “meddling.” Afraid to take sides between the head-breaking, women-shackling exporters of terror — and the people in the street yearning to breathe free. This from a president who fancies himself the restorer of America’s moral standing in the world.
President Obama has a weird sense of morality. He only tries to take what he believes is the moral high ground when it gives him an opportunity to trash America in the eyes of others. Allow me to suggest that his “moral compass” is facing south and dragging the US down with him.