Channeling His Inner Reagan?

Obama-Iran

Well maybe not, but he is getting closer.  President Obama spoke out strongly yesterday against the attack by the Iranian regime on the Iranian protestors crying out against the transparently  rigged presidential election in Iran.

“First, I’d like to say a few words about the situation in Iran.

The United States and the international community have been appalled and outraged by the threats, the beatings and imprisonments of the last few days.

I strongly condemn these unjust actions, and I join with the American people in mourning each and every innocent life that is lost.

I’ve made it clear that the United States respects the sovereignty of the Islamic Republic of Iran and is not interfering with Iran’s affairs.

But we must also bear witness to the courage and the dignity of the Iranian people and to a remarkable opening within Iranian society. And we deplore the violence against innocent civilians anywhere that it takes place.

The Iranian people are trying to have a debate about their future. Some in Iran — some in the Iranian government, in particular, are trying to avoid that debate by accusing the United States and others in the West of instigating protests over the elections.

These accusations are patently false. They’re an obvious attempt to distract people from what is truly taking place within Iran’s borders.

This tired strategy of using old tensions to scapegoat other countries won’t work anymore in Iran. This is not about the United States or the West; this is about the people of Iran and the future that they — and only they — will choose.

The Iranian people can speak for themselves. That’s precisely what’s happened in the last few days. In 2009, no iron fist is strong enough to shut off the world from bearing witness to peaceful protests of justice. Despite the Iranian government’s efforts to expel journalists and isolate itself, powerful images and poignant words have made their way to us through cell phones and computers. And so we’ve watched what the Iranian people are doing.

This is what we’ve witnessed: We’ve seen the timeless dignity of tens of thousands of Iranians marching in silence. We’ve seen people of all ages risk everything to insist that their votes are counted and that their voices are heard.

Above all, we’ve seen courageous women stand up to the brutality and threats, and we’ve experienced the searing image of a woman bleeding to death on the streets.

While this loss is raw and extraordinarily painful, we also know this: Those who stand up for justice are always on the right side of history.

As I said in Cairo, suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. The Iranian people have a universal right to assembly and free speech.

If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect those rights and heed the will of its own people. It must govern through consent and not coercion.

That’s what Iran’s own people are calling for, and the Iranian people will ultimately judge the actions of their own government.”

In this post last week, I chastised President Obama for his initial hesitant statements on Iran.  I am happy that he is now speaking forcefully on this issue.  I am curious if any of our commenters who supported Obama’s initial policy of saying little about Iran are critical of Obama now sounding somewhat like President Reagan in 1981 when the puppet Polish government cracked down on Solidarity?  In any case I applaud this new tone by the President on Iran.

Update I:  Ann Althouse was reminded of Michael Dukakis.

19 Responses to Channeling His Inner Reagan?

  • There is a chasm between these remarks and the speech you “wrote” for him this week. Look at Obama’s tone — the condemnation of official violence, the point about not interfering in Iran’s politics, it’s about Iran not the US, the emphasis on the justice, the reference to the amazing Cairo speech.

    You, on the other hand, wanted to take sides immediately, to threaten “serious consequences” beginning with sanctions, and couch it all in condescending language about the “free world”. The arrogant and un-nuanced Bush approach, in other words. And this was before the regime cracked down on the protestors — a distinction you fail to make.

    I find it truly amazing that we are seeing neocon history repeat itself. Just as the Iraqis were supposed to welcome the Ameicans with flowers, people like Fred Barnes think the young generation in Iran is pro-American and has forgotten all about 1953. Sbefore you start making comparions with Solidarnosc 1981, you should consider the ramifications of your advice.

    Let me jog your memory: US overthrows popular elected leader for despised shah to stop nationlization of oil companies. Fear that the US will yet again re-impose the shah in 1979 led to hostage crisis. US funds and arms Saddam Hussein in a brutal war in the 1980s, leading to a million deaths, and the use of chemical weapons by American’s then friend. US calls Iran part of “axis of evil” with two countries it despises. And this will now be all forgotten?

    We see now that Khamenei and Ahmadinejad are desperately trying to pin this on foreign interference, whereas it is home-grown. Had Obama listened to you and your neocon frieds a week ago, he would have played right into their hands. The resistance movement might be beaten into submission right now, but it has not lost its legitimacy.

    Interestingly, I think the Cairo speech may have actually emboldened the Iranian opposition in the first place. After all, who could have predicted such excitement about a boring 68-year old former prime minister who is a firm believer in he revolution and the Islamic republic? Reaching out with the arm of friendship is always better than hypocritical hectoring. And the Church would say the same thing — the Vatican praised the Cairo speech.

  • I went on record as saying I thought a hands off approach by Obama was probably the most prudent action. However, let’s not just throw a bunch of excrement on the wall and call it an argument.

    And this was before the regime cracked down on the protestors — a distinction you fail to make…

    You say Donald’s speech came before the Iranian government cracked down and Obama’s came after. Not so, referencing my own comment in that thread I know there were at least 8 dead protesters at the time of Donald’s writing, and that Obama had characterized the whole thing as dialogue.

    …We see now that Khamenei and Ahmadinejad are desperately trying to pin this on foreign interference, whereas it is home-grown. Had Obama listened to you and your neocon frieds a week ago, he would have played right into their hands. The resistance movement might be beaten into submission right now, but it has not lost its legitimacy….

    Actually, most of could see they were trying to pin it on foreign interference from the beginning, it was the sort of thing that could be expected, plus, well, the regime proclaimed it pretty loudly. And we understood, as I’m sure the regime does, that it is indeed home-grown. I’m not sure how this supports your argument though. And I’m not sure how you think the resistance movement has its legitimacy – are you saying it is because Obama finally spoke up or because it was legitimate before he spoke up?

    Also, you might find some a more support or persuade a number of people to your view if you refrained from being so patronizing and quick to assign the worst motives, beliefs, or ignorance to those you disagree with. We get that it’s important for your own thought process to categorize everyone into evil or good, American or good, Calvinist or good, neocon or good, etc., but it doesn’t make for convincing argument. Really, I’m sympathetic to some of your arguments until you start to act as if nobody but you are capable of understanding these things, because they’re just so evil or American.

  • Rick: “And I’m not sure how you think the resistance movement has its legitimacy – are you saying it is because Obama finally spoke up or because it was legitimate before he spoke up?”

    Legitimacy has absolutely nothing to do with Obama, or any other American for that matter. I’ve been saying since the outset that this is a domestic Iranian struggle, and has nothing to do with us. It’s precisely the neocon approach that sees this though US-tinted lenses — that these people desire western-style democracy and the American notion of “freedom”. Not so. I’m sure some are very western in their outlook (that doesn’t mean they would look too kindly on American “freedom”, including rampant pornography, liberal sexual ethics, mass availability of guns, just to same a few). Others, and I would say the majority outside the rather closeted society of North Tehran, are committed to the Islamic revolution but are sick and tired of Ahmadinejad, an embarrassment on the world stage.

    I think their reaction would be akin to America rigging the election in favor of McCain last October — could you imagine the public outrage? It would not be an indictment of the system itself, just legitimate anger over a great injustice. And imagine if such a scenario took place, would Americans like it if the Iranian leadership publicly sided with the protestors? I think not — imagine the Fox News headlines!

    I’m trying to figure out your last paragraph. The dualism you accuse me of is exactly the what I am opposed to, especially in the way neocons view the world. So, to go back to Donald’s Reagan reference, the Soviet Union was not an “evil empire”. There was and is no “axis of evil”. There are merely people who do evil things because of sin.

    John Allen had a nice analysis during the Iraq war when he talked to certain Vatican officials, who saw a whiff of Calvinism in what the US was doing. To quote “Calvinist concepts of the total depravity of the damned, the unconditional election of God’s favored, and the manifestation of election through earthly success, all seem to them to play a powerful role in shaping American cultural psychology” Well, Catholics do not divorce sin and evil from grace and redemption.

    So please — I have never called anybody “evil” (some possibly facetiously!), but I certainly think a lot of people around here are very influenced by this Calvinist outlook. As for me, I prefer the approach of Obama in Cairo to Reagan during the Cold War.

  • Tony, you shift your position as swiftly as your weather-vane president. As he continues to get tougher on Iran, and he will, you will find justifications for his change of policy, as I predicted you would last week. Of course, the simple truth is that Obama clearly misread initially not only the situation in Iran but the reaction of this nation to the brutality of the Iranian regime. Obama’s policy of sucking up to Ahmadinejad and the mullahs is in tatters, and so he runs to get in front of where most Americans currently are in regard to Iran. Obama has his gifts, but leadership is not one of them.

  • [1] Calvinist concepts of the total depravity of the damned, [2] the unconditional election of God’s favored, [3] and the manifestation of election through earthly success, all seem to them to play a powerful role in shaping American cultural psychology

    [1] and [2] don’t have much to do with the Iraq War. [3] is a fabrication; Calvinists don’t think that God’s election is shown by earthly success.

    * Needless to say, I’m talking about actual Calvinists here, which is a term that you seem to be unfamiliar with. John Calvin was a 16th century French theologian, and the term “Calvinist” refers to followers of John Calvin — currently found mostly in Presbyterian and Reformed churches.

  • Thanks for a thoughtful reply, MM.

    Legitimacy has absolutely nothing to do with Obama, or any other American for that matter. I’ve been saying since the outset that this is a domestic Iranian struggle, and has nothing to do with us.

    I agree as to the legitimacy of the movement, and frankly I haven’t heard anyone proclaim it otherwise, save the Iranian government – and I’m quite sure they know the reality. So when you brought up the legitimacy I reasoned that it was part of the argument you were making – an argument that still isn’t making sense to me.

    Anyway, my last paragraph was a rather lame attempt at mocking you while trying to point out that you might have a beam in your eye. I’m quite aware of you calling out dualism and such, however I think you do so often based on your presumption of what others are saying or thinking rather than the reality – and often enough, it’s easy enough to predict where you stand on any given issue simply based on where partisan lines are drawn. Your initial comment here is an example. Who said what’s happening in Iran is really about the US? Who thinks Iran should be USA Lite? Who believes for a moment that our system could or should be transplanted there? I doubt you could find one example. However, I bet you could cite a number that you attribute those thoughts to.

    If someone says they hope the Iranian people effect some change and gain for themselves more liberty and institute a just government – and even a government that’s not so hostile to the US – or that they think the US leadership should speak in support of the protesters or condemn the regime’s behavior, it doesn’t mean they think it’s all about the US, that Iran should be just like the US, etc. And if you were to find someone so wrong-headed, it certainly doesn’t mean that because others advocate the same or similar actions are necessarily wrong.

    One last thing. I think history has proven that Reagan’s “Evil Empire” thing was not the bad thing his critics on the left thought it was, but actually turned out to be a very powerful thing that led to a better world. I know you see dualism and hatred in it, but that’s what you’re looking for. If you’re concerned about the souls that have suffered under a system, a system that lacks much good and perpetuates the misery, you would have no problem calling it an evil empire. Most people can make the distinction between the system and governance of a state and its people.

  • Well, Donald, I would hope to change my opinion when facts and circumstances change. And it certainly makes sense to condemn a brutal repression today, when it made sense not to side with the mass protests 7-10 days ago. And even then, it makes sense to be cautious, to speak in terms of justice, and Obama has done that.

    Do you honestly think Obama’s policy is worse than the “tatters” of teh last 8 years? Do you really think the “codpiece diplomacy” worked. It might play well at home and help people feel good about themselves, but as policy, it’s been an unmitigated disaster.

    And do you think Obama’s Cairo speech helped rally people toward Moussavi (who let’s face it, is not exactly an inspiring figure)?

  • MM,

    I don’t think that the protests in Iran have much of anything to do with Obama’s Cairo speech. Sheesh, talk about it not all being about the US.

    And as for codpiece diplomacy — it was mostly in your head in the first place. Obama’s reaction now (as he gradually catches on to what’s going on in Iran — which admittedly wasn’t part of his “I will tame the regime through kind words” script, so he had to do a little expectatin resetting) is really not that different from the sort of thing we would have heard from Bush or McCain.

    The idea that they were running around hurling grenades and grunting, “Me good and free, you bad and oppressor” never really had much correllation to reality in the first place.

  • that doesn’t mean they would look too kindly on American “freedom”, including rampant pornography, liberal sexual ethics, mass availability of guns

    You are almost certainly correct on the first two, but given that Islam effectively proscribes pacifism, I’m not so sure they’d react with your reflexive horror to firearms ownership.

  • One of the reasons people find it hard to take your crusade against dualism seriously, MM, is that you are so dualistic in your approach to your opponents. You think they’re “know nothings”, that they don’t know the most basic things about local history, that they want to make war on everyone, that they want everyone to be completely Americanized, etc. Given that you’re so dualistic (and far from reality) in your approach to people you disagree with, it’s hard to take your claims that other people are dualists seriously.

  • Oh, the codpiece diplomacy was not a figment of my imagination — it was on full display during the GOP pirmary reason. Remember the juvenile machismo of Giulinia, Romney, Tancredo? OK, McCain was an adult in that group but he still was too attached to an emotive trigger-happy context free response.

    I will never ever forget the collective insanity that overtook this country in the aftermath of 9/11. I cannot comprehend how the authors and cheerleaders of the Iraq war are now being granted a soapbox to make the same idiotic statements about Iran, with the same ignorance of history, and the same demonization of the regime. So when I rail against know-nothings, I’m talking very recent history, with very concrete examples.

    You know well that I don’t like Obama’s continued occupation of Iraq and his ratcheting up the war mode in Afghanistan. But look how far we have come – the Cairo speech actually treats the Islamic world with respect, and calls for equal Palestinian and Israeli rights. And he’s actually backing up the talk on Israeli — much to Netanyahu’s disgust. Again, not perfect (my views here are aligned with the Vatican), and still too pro-Israel, but certainly infinintely better than what could have been.

    I do see a link between Cairo and Iran. Obama appealed to their better angels, and they responded. I would not overdo this, though — this is certainly a domestic Iranian issue. But nobody can fail to notice the sea-change in official US rhetoric, and nobody cannot be uplifted by it (except those who thrive on conflict and demonization, of course, Khamenei and Ahmadinejad included).

    But I’ve seen people go too far, pointing to the loss of Hezbollah’s coalition in Lebanon. No, sorry, Hezbollah won every seat it was expected to win, it’s just that its Christian ally, Michel Aoun, got trounced.

  • Obama helped spark the Iranian uprising? Tony, only an Obamabot could even suggest that with a straight face. Obama clearly thought he could work a deal with the mullahs, cue the horselaugh, and from the beginning he has completely misread what is going on in Iran.

    As to your comments about the aftermath of 9-11, it must truly pain you that you have to live in America currently to earn your bread and cheese. You seem to be constantly out of sorts with America, with the sole exception of the election of your candidate last year for President. This is going to be a long four years for you Tony as Obama dismally fails in his plans to transform the US into a large Sweden. After it is all over with, you can simply chalk it up to our innate stubborn American, “Calvinist” in your lexicon, natures!

  • Thug Ahmadinejad thinks Obama is channeling his inner Bush!

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20090625/ts_nm/us_iran_election

  • I’m with Donald, MM. *Why* do you live here? You’re like the anti-de Tocqueville, an endless series of carping complaints and observations about the people, civics, culture and mindset of the nation you currently reside in.

    Any unique features of this place that you *do* like, or is every day here rather like continuing exposure to low-grade debilitating radiation?

  • MM,

    When I have a guest in my home who constantly complains about my food, hospitality and funishings, I politely ask him to leave.

    Perhaps having assisted this country in electing Obama, you can now find other, fruitful pursuits in another land.

  • MM:

    1. No apology for the complete fabrication about what Calvinists believe?

    2. So you’re back to the “codpiece” talk. Can you think of any insults that aren’t so crass and gutter-minded?

  • I live happily in the US because (i) I live in very international circles and (ii) the Americans I know do not believe in the American empire. No, the problem lies with the economically-backward regions, with their “culture” facing a demographic time bomb. Good riddance to it. I look forward to the day when this Protestant culture wanes as Hispanics become the dominant group. For that is what I love about the US — its openness to all peoples and cultures, its liberal immigration policies, its nature as a melting pot. Remember, Catholic culture has always been a vibrant urban culture…

    If you want to talk about Obama, it’s clear to me that the Ahmadi-Mousavi struggle is a little similar to Mccain-Obama — a jaded old regime, an embarrassment on the world stage, challenged by an upstart with huge popularity among the younger generation. Mousavi’s spokesman says as much, and there’s a ring of truth to it.

    And I notice that nobody criticizes the collective madness we lived through after 9/11….

  • Once upon a time the insult was to be called an ugly American. MM sets the new standard as the ugly European. Of course, for those of us who have lived there, there’s always been such.

  • No criticism was mentioned Tony of your statement in regard to 9-11 because it was too absurd to waste electrons on. Your belief that Hispanics will transform America into something more pleasing to you is ludicrous. Catholic ethnic groups in this country tend to hold views no more acceptable to you than their Protestant counter-parts. I might add that Hispanics are over-represented, by choice, in our military. I welcome them. Over time they will, as a group, be no more reliably Democrat votes in most states in this country than say Italian-Americans are now. Your beliefs are actually carbon-copies of those held by rich wasp liberal elites in this country, and so your sham pose of being in rebellion against some sort of Protestant ascendancy in this country is nothing but a pose. Your comparison of McCain to Ahmadinejad is of course nothing but the substition of vitriol for analysis.

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