Friday, June 19, 2009

Pay Attention to Iran

Folks, we're witnessing something pretty amazing in Iran right now. It's obvious this election was rigged. Even if (somehow) it wasn't, there's a lot going on there that is quite disturbing. Just read this article from today's Wall Street Journal for some firsthand accounts from Iranian citizens. We need to help them. America needs to help them, and President Obama needs to speak up. Right now he is staying largely silent, and it's not a good thing. Obama said the following in his recent speech in Cairo:

"I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn't steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. Those are not just American ideas, they are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere."

Read the WSJ article and it's very clear that the government is not being "transparent" and Iranians are not being given the freedom to "speak [their] mind[s]". If our President truly believes in these "human rights" this then he needs to be speaking out about it, because he has been given the perfect opportunity.


  1. Khomeni said this morning, "Some diplomats from the west are showing their real face and that they are enemies."

    If Obama had come or still chooses to come out behind the Mousavi, and he ultimately doesn't come to power, we have encouraged Ahmedinijad as well as Khomeni & council to further incite anti-American sentiments and have lost any hope for peaceful negotiations with the regime. It doesn't make us safer. The New Years speech and the Cairo speech were pre-emptive strikes for the election in Iran - Obama set this stage, very tactfully I might add. Those speeches greatly undermined the main message of Ahmedinijad - that Americans were to be feared and not trusted; he painted us as everything bad and evil in the world. But then Obama got on camera, his message was delivered, and he shmoozed the people of Iran too. Suddenly Ahmedinijad's messages didn't make sense. There wasn't enough time to re-organize before people headed to the polls, so the administration freaked and made up some numbers. It may not be tomorrow or next week, but like movements prior, Gandhi and King, the people have spoken and the movement can't be stopped.

    Conversely, if Obama says something in support of Mousavi, and if Mousavi came to power, it might imply Iran is an ally, which seeing as you support candidates who wanted to bomb them into oblivian a short year ago, I don't think that's a commitment we're ready to make. It also takes the legitimacy of the election away from the people. Their votes didn't count until the president of another country (an enemy one, maybe) came to the rescue? A year ago, would you have said you know, Ahmedinijad has shown support for McCain, I think I'll support him as president of the US? Doesn't make sense - I would run in the opposite direction.

    You're right the election is a fraud and the rest of the world knows it. I can come out and say I support the people of Iran and want their voice to be heard, but my voicing that opinion doesn't have the same political implications that Obama's does. We don't know how this is going to play out yet - no one knew what Khomeni would say this morning, and we still don't know what effects his speech will ultimately have. But you didn't see other countries stepping in questioning our electoral procedures or supporting Gore in 2000, because there are things called sovreign boundaries. This is not the time for a maverick. It's a time to play by the rules.

    By the way, while I appreciate the shout out for human rights, you can't support human rights and torture at the same time. Similarly, this isn't the first time an election's been stolen. Why is our obligation different now?

  2. Wow, here we go again with the whole "My post was about one thing, but people are interpreting it in a different way than intended." I will admit it's completely my fault, because when I was writing it I was thinking "If I leave it like this then people are going to think I'm wanting Obama to come out in support of Mousavi." I just didn't have time to expand on it.

    All I'm saying is that Obama should come out and support the Iranian people's right to protest peacefully, because right now that right is not being recognized in Iran. People are being shot, property is being trashed and Ahmedinejad's people are going after the protesters. Obama should call for a fair election, not necessarily come out and support Mousavi (although he easily could, and I wouldn't object, because world leaders come out in support of foreign policital candidates all the time). There are definitely things that Obama could do to take away the legitimacy of the election, but I'm not calling for that. I don't think calling for a fair election does that at all. I see your point on losing the chance for "peaceful negotiations" but that stuff isn't going to work. Ahmadinijad isn't going to wake up one day and magically say "you know, let's stop our nuclear program, because the American's asked nicely."

    Also, just because I supported candidates that mentioned bombing Iran doesn't mean I necessarily agreed with that particular action. That's another issue that I can't stand (not directing this at you) about political conversation..... people think that if you say you support a candidate then you A. Think that candidate is the absolute best person for the job and B. You support EVERYTHING that the candidate supports. FALSE!!! You've never going to have a candidate that you agree with 100% of the time. I said last night that McCain was a TERRIBLE choice for a presidential candidate, and I would not have picked him in 1,000 years to be the Republican on the ticket. With that being said, I voted for him, because I like him a hell of a lot better than Obama. It was another 2004 where you voted for one person not because you support them, but because you dislike the other candidate so much more.

  3. I guess I didn't mean that you in particular agreed with the bombing Iran sentiment, but on a whole, the statement was met with cheers by the Republicans at the RNC, and now on the whole, Republicans are being critical of Obama's stance.

    For the record, I did interpret your first post as support of Mousavi (see next paragraph). Also for the record, I don't disagree with the intentions of your first post - I don't care of Obama talks till his face is blue about non-violent protests and fair elections. Not because I support those things (which I do), but because their political implications are like sum zero. He's already said it. So if there's nothing new to add to the discussion (since it's essentially the same thing he said when he responded to Iran last week), why draw attention only to invite more criticism? Responding right now may look like a reaction to Khomeni's speech, and we don't want to be that reactive. Khomeni's speech today makes it seem like they're scramblin', Ahmedinijad hasn't been seen in a few days, and their next move will be both unpredictable and interesting. At the very least, you have to wait till after the protests tomorrow.

    A word of caution: Mousavi was in power back in the 80s, and his regime was pretty oppressive then from what I've read. The shift in this election wasn't about which candidate was more liberal/US-friendly/more likely to stop the nuclear campaign (and that Mousavi represented that change), it was that the people of Iran could show up to the polls and vote and there could be a peaceful transition of power REGARDLESS of the politics. That obviously hasn't proven to be the case. You're right, foreign leaders come out in support of candidates when there is a clear track record of American sympathy or friendliness (I guess I mean, "when it's in our interest") but I'm not sure you are/can be ready to make that statement. If Obama came out and supported Mousavi, and he came to power, and in 6 months started testing nuclear weapons (I mean, I don't think he's going to stop the nuclear campaign tomorrow either), you would be up in arms that Obama supported testing nuclear weapons in Iran! I think it's clear that Mousavi isn't as buddy-buddy with Khomeni as Ahmedinijad is, but the council has parallel influence, and Khomeni isn't going away.

    Recent history begs the comparison to our elections in November. In spite of a few right-wing nuts who have turned violent since the inauguration, this has been a very peaceful transition of power from a very conservative party to a (comparably) very liberal party. Most countries aren't so lucky. Even in spite of 2000 and 2004, there wasn't a question that our votes would be counted. So I can't see the future, I don't know enough about Mousavi's policies, leanings or plans, but I am confident that democracy in Iran wouldn't be a bad thing. Votes being counted - not Mousavi being elected - indicates democracy is in action.


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