A Parting of the Ways

Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, RML, Social Justice — By on June 18, 2009 at 4:46 pm

President Obama has poured billions of tax dollars into a government take-over of the Auto Industry.  Fair Enough.  He is pushing through a Socialist agenda for a national healthcare system, which will effectively strip us of our options with regard to our medical care, while simultaneously creating a shortage for the care available.  Que Sera, Sera.  He has nominated for the Supreme Court a Justice who is clearly a racist, but being a person of color is not called to account for her evil views.  Such is life. 

As disastrous as I believe President Obama’s domestic policy to be, it pales when compared to his foreign policy with regard to the “elections” in Iran; a foreign policy that would be generously described as tepid, insincere, passionless, or even disinterested. 

Let me be clear: with regard to the sham elections and the violent fallout that has arisen as a result, the position of the Leader of the Free World should be a full-throated denouncing of the criminal tactics of Ahmadenijad and his ilk, and unwavering support of the protestors and a call for outside, neutral investigations and recount. 

Perhaps President Obama is simply nervous about inserting the full power of the US government into delicate and difficult circumstances.  Still, he has felt no compunction about telling Israel how it should handle the delicate situation in Gaza.  As we are some of Israel’s last allies, a scolding from our Commander-in-Chief is hardly the kind of support a nation under almost constant terrorist attack needs.  And his domestic policy would certainly suggest that there is little he believes the US government is unable to fix.  But that is for another post.

Yet for all of this, somehow the best we can manage when the democratic process is ignored in a state already on the edge of an international confrontation for its nuclear program, combined with its rampant anti-Semitism, and it’s support of multiple terrorist organizations, is this, “It is not productive, given the history of US and Iranian relations to be seen as meddling in Iranian elections.”

It remains unclear how stating that injustice is being done to an entire populace is “meddling” and apparently even President Obama’s own administration finds his inarticulate defense of free and fair elections to be less than appropriate.  While I recognize that care is necessary when dealing with the internal politics of any other nation, especially a nation such as Iran, I think it is ridiculous that any President would feel the need to tip-toe around publically denouncing the killing of political protestors, or the violent repression of a free election.  It is not redundant to state publically what we are for, and what we oppose, especially in a case such as this.  For the people of Iran, the powers that be all seem to have conspired against them; why should we flinch from demonstrating how different we are?

Perhaps we could forgive Mr. Obama; after all, this is only the second time in less than a year that the cause of freedom and liberty have been challenged while he had access to the largest microphone in the civilized world.  Or, perhaps the President is simply not comfortable being the spokesman for Freedom, Justice, and Liberty.  One begins to wonder exactly which basic principles of our society, if any, he is comfortable promoting.



  • http://www.freshimpactpr.com Scott Spiewak

    Thank you for so elequently stating what so many need to hear. It was refreshing to hear someone with the same passions.

  • topher

    Perhaps the president is taking care in his support of the protesters lest they be perceived as American stooges, (something with which Iran is very familiar).

  • Evelyn Baker Lang

    According to the president (in an interview with CBS yesterday), that’s exactly why he’s been doing it:

    “Q People in this country say you haven’t said enough, that you haven’t been forceful enough in your support for those people on the street — to which you say?

    THE PRESIDENT: To which I say, the last thing that I want to do is to have the United States be a foil for those forces inside Iran who would love nothing better than to make this an argument about the United States. That’s what they do. That’s what we’re already seeing. We shouldn’t be playing into that. There should be no distractions from the fact that the Iranian people are seeking to let their voices be heard.

    What we can do is bear witness and say to the world that the incredible demonstrations that we’ve seen is a testimony to I think what Dr. King called the “arc of the moral universal.” It’s long but it bends towards justice.”

  • http://evangelicaloutpost.com/?fbconnect_action=myhome&userid=19 cmulready

    There’s a time and place for tact; if we were directly involved in the conflict, then I would say we need to be worried about being tactful, for the sake of preserving a working relationship in the midst of heightened tensions.

    However, in this instance, we are not directly involved and have very little on the line. We can afford to state plainly and for the record that we support the will of the people of Iran in this instance. I see no down-side here, especially since (as even President Obama recognizes) the tyrants in Iran will paint the protestors as being agents of the West whether or not we are working with them.

    If they’re going to blame us anyways, why not play the hand and do it on our terms, rather than being both silent AND scap-goats?

    We have an obligation to speak out in this instance; we need to be a voice for hope in that region, and this is the prime opportunity to accomplish that.

  • Evelyn Baker Lang

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: your view doesn’t take into account the political situation unique to Iran!

    While the situation has changed since Khamenei’s speech on Friday, we still need to be careful not to hand Khamenei soundbytes he can broadcast to confirm his lies. Reports from Tehran said that state tv ran ‘interviews’ with ‘protesters’ (faces conveniently blurred) who claimed they were being egged on by friends in the West and America, or that they were trained here. Ironically for us (though not for the historical background), America’s not the main target of these allegations: Britain is.

    There are still strong voices on both sides of this debate, and there are good arguments on both sides. In any case, the White House has become more aggressive in releasing statements since the speech, and I think we’ll see more of that in coming days.

    The main point to remember is that this is NOT about America. It’s about the consent of the Iranian people to be governed. All action on our part must be taken with that in mind, not our own image or salvific delusions.

  • Evelyn Baker Lang

    It might also be worth noting that the tweets demanding that the US make statements on the election aren’t coming from protesters – they’re coming from Americans. CNN just interviewed an Iranian filmmaker/activist who said that’s because the protesters know that anti-Americanism is so strong in Iran, the US’s support will hurt the cause. He says the protesters, some of whom are friends of his, know precisely what the US thinks about it and why the US isn’t jumping into the rhetorical battle, and they hope the US continues to do it.

    He also mentioned the irony of John “Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” McCain criticizing the president on the issue. :)

  • smmtheory

    the White House has become more aggressive in releasing statements since the speech, and I think we’ll see more of that in coming days.

    yeah, now that President Obama has figured out he’s bleeding political capital by remaining neutral on the issue.

  • http://evangelicaloutpost.com/?fbconnect_action=myhome&userid=20 Evelyn Baker Lang

    “yeah, now that President Obama has figured out he’s bleeding political capital by remaining neutral on the issue.”

    While it’s cynical an probably inaccurate to assume that everything a politician does while in office is to try and get reelected, if you do, you’ll be right more often than you’re wrong.

  • http://evangelicaloutpost.com cmulready

    I have also heard numerous Iranians talking on the Hugh Hewitt show that state plainly that the US’ silence is alarming and defeating to the cause.

    Why is that? Because, again, we are the brightest example of a nation of laws in the civilized world. We transferred power from Bush to Obama without so much as shot. We have credibility on this front, and we should use it for the sake the protestors.

    Lang, I don’t think you have addressed my point regarding the inevitable blaming of America. As you say, they do it anyway; why not say actually say something, since the blame is pointed in our direction anyways?

    I think that John McCain’s thoughts on Iran represent popular thoughts on Iran; there is more there, and beyond being popular, by playfully suggesting that he would bomb Iran, McCain was intimating that his priority is a nuclear free Iran and a safe Israel. Being playful might not be the best tact (McCain is not the polished man that the President is) but his principles on the issue are quite serious. His position during this recent crisis seems straight-forward: the leader of a nation of laws and justice should speak out when a grave injustice occurs in a community where he has influence.

    It seems that President Obama shares those priorities to an extent, but I think that he flinches from making hard calls that may produce difficult results, which might be prudence, but more and more seems to be simply spinelessness.

  • Evelyn Baker Lang

    Mulready,

    I actually addressed them in detail in response to our friend Adolf on “A Time for Silence.” Brief recap: best hope for change in Iran = division within Assembly of Religious Experts and other top bodies who can put pressure on Khamenei (and this morning, it’s reported that state tv in Iran has begun referring to Khamenei as “Father” of the revolution, a title previously reserved only for Khomeini, so it seems he’s thinking that way, too). Best way to derail that chance = make protest look manufactured by the West. Easiest way to do that = clips of Obama saying the US supports the protesters and that Khamenei should declare the vote invalid.

    You say “the leader of a nation of laws and justice should speak out when a grave injustice occurs in a community where he has influence.”

    What influence does Obama have among the leadership in Iran? What will his strong statements influence the leadership to do? Remember: this is a country that began Friday’s religious meetings with the chant “Death to America” at Khamenei’s urging. How do you see Obama’s words being effective in that respect?

    We have credibility (except for confusion over the 2000 election, which some in the country and abroad still find fishy) in the world of liberal democracy when it comes to peaceful exchange of power. Iran is not in the world of liberal democracy.

    And you say that John McCain was trying to be funny and trying to make a point about disarmament in Iran?! Come now, Mulready. His “bomb Iran” comments weren’t about disarmament. They represent an attempt at being playful about escalating tensions with Iran, and McCain’s own bellicose policy toward the Middle East. Disarmament had nothing to do with it.

  • ex-preacher

    Perhaps Obama read the interview George H. W. Bush in the Washington Times: “Mr. Bush, however, urged that the United States exercise prudence in reacting to the events unfolding in Iran. “They ought to get to the bottom of it,” he said. “And without emotion go forward and see if there is something that can be done from outside without inflaming tensions, we don’t want to inflame tensions with Iran.” He added that President Obama should refrain from making any military threats.”

    Bush senior was heavily criticized by the neocons when he remained largely silent as the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union collapsed. Critics at the time urged him to fly to West Germany and make strident remarks. He wisely stayed relatively quiet so the US’ influence wouldn’t make things worse.

    Unfortunately, he perhaps forgot his own example when he decided to call upon Iraqis after the Gulf War to rise up and overthrow Saddam Hussein. Many tried and were massacred.

    In 2002, George W. Bush may have thought he was doing the right thing when he called Iran part of the “axis of evil” and said “Iran aggressively pursues these weapons and exports terror, while an unelected few repress the Iranian people’s hope for freedom.” But in fact, his remarks sparked anti-Americanism and led to the election of Ahmadinejad in 2005. Ahmadinejad was the only vocally anti-American candidate in that election.

    Because the U.S. is the world’s #1 power and perceived as intervening in its affairs (see, for instance, 1954 overthrow of Iran’s government helped by the CIA), the best thing we can do is play it cool and smart. Obama is doing the exact right thing.

  • Alex

    Ex,

    Do you have a source for your statement in paragraph 4? Are you suggesting that the clerics decided to go anti-american because of Bush’s comment?

    I think it’s pretty clear that the general population doesn’t have a whole lot to do with the elections in Iran. And I doubt Bush’s label caused a huge swing in the opinion of the cleric’s. He called Iran an Axis of evil for a reason. The cleric’s probably made sure that Ahmadinejad was elected for a number of reasons that have nothing to do with us.

    Ultimately, the president should say what he believes. It could be used as propoganda…so what? If the Iranian people are really tired of their situation it won’t matter. Seriously, if you were pissed off enough to start a revolution, would you listen to anything coming out of a state controlled media? The Iranian government can use us as a scape goat no matter what we say. If the Iranian people buy in they are unwilling or too stupid to overthrow the gov.

    On a side note, I am sick of references to the 2000 election. You don’t have proof that anything was rigged. If you did you should have considered doing something more drastic than complaining on the internet.

  • http://truenorthquest.wordpress.com Brian Del Turco

    Charles Krauthammer’s piece in the Washington Post – “Hope and Change, but not for Iran” http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/18/AR2009061803495.html – helps with geo-political perspective. I have the feeling our president is not comfortable with advancing American ideals of liberty and freedom. The academic Left in our nation has never been energized about this.

  • smmtheory

    While it’s cynical an probably inaccurate to assume that everything a politician does while in office is to try and get reelected, if you do, you’ll be right more often than you’re wrong.

    Where did I say anything about him posturing to get reelected? He’s losing influence (if he ever had any) all over the world, and most especially in Israel. Why was he even planning on bending over for the Mullahcracy in the first place? Was he going to apologise for our country’s support of the Shah all those years ago?

  • Chris L.

    I don’t care for the president and think that he is screwing things up big time. But in this case, not saying much is the best thing to do. Now The problem isn’t just that it might give the gov’t propaganda but that the protesters might not be much better than the current regime. Simply stated, this could be more of an internal power struggle than a revolution. If that is the case, then it’s best just to stay out of it.

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    Thunderous by its absence is the Iranian regime’s treatment of Baha’is…but I guess murder of heretics is OK with you…

    But seriously, your guy so messed things up, and did so much violence to so many people it’d be risible that you critique Obama, except for the fact that the utter lack of remorse and accountability in the face of the obvious moral and intellectual bankruptcy of conservatism is evidence of a pathology that goes beyond the moral and the intellectual.

    We seem to be in Charles Manson territory with conservatives.

  • http://truenorthquest.wordpress.com Brian Del Turco

    The concept behind the Iranian Revolution in 1979 was to create the world’s first modern state governed solely by Islamic law. Thirty years later, Iran is far and away the largest supporter of terrorism in the world, but because of poverty and the suppression of human rights, many in Iran are disillusioned and ready for change. The real revolution facing Iran’s Islamic Regime – Iran’s Christian revolution – http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/world/2009/June/Irans-Christian-Revolution-Gains-Momentum/

  • smmtheory

    Here is a quote from a question asked of President Obama by an Iranian:

    Under which conditions would you accept the election of Ahmadinejad? And if you do accept it without any significant changes in the conditions there, isn’t that a betrayal of what the demonstrators there are working to achieve?

    Some people think this question refutes the apologist’s suggestions that President Obama helps the protesters by remaining “above the fray”. I’ll ask my questions again since nobody has answered them. Why was he even planning on bending over for the Mullahcracy in the first place? Was he going to apologise for our country’s support of the Shah all those years ago?

  • http://evangelicaloutpost.com cmulready

    Mumon,

    I am not entirely certain what your complaint is; perhaps you can clarify your thoughts for me: are you suggesting that I cannot critique Pres. Obama because Pres. Bush made mistakes? Or do you have a larger complaint against Conservatism, that leads you to liken the entire movement to some sort of evil cult?

    I am hesitant to post more, simply because I have better things to do with my time than argue with something you’re not saying, but I am not sure what you ARE upset about; can you clarify for me?

  • Evelyn Baker Lang

    Just a further ‘current events’ note:

    After today’s press conference, Iranians on twitter overwhelmingly approve of the president’s statements condemning the violent response of the Iranian regime (though also commend his restraint from ‘picking a side’ and endorsing one candidate).

    Also, according to my local NPR news station (local show Forum as well as national show Fresh Air), Obama’s words condemning the regime’s violent suppression of the protesters allow dissenting clerics more leverage against Khamenei than words in favor of Mousavi’s presidential bid would have allowed. One commentator posited that we are watching the first major schism within Shi’a Islam. Interesting theory.

    Almost all Iranian commentators, both western experts and, more importantly, Iranian activists, condemned McCain et. al’s aggressive rhetoric.

    Regardless, it’s amazing to be able to watch this unfold. So many democratic movements and conflicts are effectively suppressed, it’s hard for the layperson to hear from the laypeople leading the movement unfiltered by major news outlets. For that alone, long live Twitter!

  • Chris L.

    Cmulready, Mumon has been around here forever and it is best just to ignore him. He is a die hard leftist who lives in the fever swamps.

    From Diana West, “Mousavi is a founder of Hezbollah, served as Ayatollah Khomeini’s prime minister, initiated contact with AQ Khan to set up Iran’s nuclear program,…” Really, why are we picking sides here? This isn’t a revolution but an internal power struggle.

  • http://www.aarondtaylor.blogspot.com Aaron D. Taylor

    From reading this post, it seems the author’s automatic response is to deem every single action by the president as stupid or evil. I would expect this from people like Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck, but shouldn’t Christian bloggers at least try to be a bit more fair minded? This post was nothing more than a thoughtless diatribe against a democratic president. It reflects the take-the-opposite-side-of-the-man-you-oppose-no-matter-what-the-position-is approach found on both sides of the political aisle.

    It leaves me wondering. If it were a republican in office that decided to chose his words carefully dealing with the very complex situation of Iran, would the author be so quick to condemn? Also, is the author not aware of President Obama’s recent statements condemning the violence in Iran? Criticism of Obama’s policies is fine. I’ve done that myself, but for goodness sake, can we please be a bit more objective?

  • http://evangelicaloutpost.com cmulready

    Aaron,

    First, thanks for the comment. Always good to know how I am coming across.

    I am sorry to hear that my thoughts struck the wrong note; let me start by saying that I do earnestly try to evaluate the merits of the President’s policies, and do not merely write him off as a liberal and therefore wrong.

    Of course, being a Conservative, I do tend to think he is wrong. A lot. I sincerely believe that he is eroding our freedoms, is endangering civil liberties, and is doing more harm than good meddling with the market, healthcare, etc. I also find his inability to speak up for the cause of justice and freedom alarming. This is not the first time he has failed to use his remarkable rhetorical skills to speak for those principles in a critical moment.

    Let me assure you that if it were a “Conservative” President in office who had fired a private sector CEO, had used the Government to take over a private business, was intending to create a healthcare system that will be artificially kept in the black through tax-payer money, or had so radically dropped the ball when the question of the rule of law and democracy was in question…yes, I’d be upset, and I’d have emphatically said so.

    Chris L you asked why this matters, since the two sides are barely distinguishable and since this is primarily an internal debate. My answer to that is this: we are the leader of the free world. While our word on the subject of freedom and justice isn’t absolute, we are a leader amongst the nations. Particularly in the case of Iran, we stand as a witness to what is just and what is not. While the outcome may not matter much to us, the fact that there has been such a grave injustice should matter to us, and we should speak out about it; not because we want to infuence Iranian elections, but to tell both our allies and our enemies that we are watching, that we do stand up for our principles. In addition, as I mentioned in the comments section of Lang’s post, we should speak so that the Iranians (who are being told a lie by every major authority in their lives) know that they are vindicated in their stuggle. We stand as a witness for them, whether they like us or not; and that matters. It matters that we state plainly that elections matter, that arguing loudly and using violence does not negate the voice of the people.

    Pres. Obama’s voice on these matters has, unfortunately, been timid and common-place. He seems to care very little about the violence that went on before last Friday, and has barely responded since the supposed game-changing speach from the Supreme Leader.

  • http://evangelicaloutpost.com cmulready

    Lang,

    I’ll agree with you about the excitement of watching ordinary people resist tyranny.

    I wonder why the Iranian comments that you mention don’t convince you of my point? I haven’t suggested choosig a side, or denouncing one candidate or another; my repeated call was for strong condemnation of the violence of the supposed winner, and the need for reform and re-examining the process, given the protests.

    Which sounds exactly like what you say the Iranians are praising Obama for doing…and which he only barely started doing after Friday. I am not sure why that shouldn’t have been his position from the beginning.

  • Nick

    Particularly in the case of Iran, we stand as a witness to what is just and what is not.

    I think the nub of the problem is that particularly in the case of Iran, we stand as no such thing. In the specific case of Iran, we have a history of meddling, disastrously, in their internal politics. Most Americans have forgotten the 1953 coup d’etat, but the Iranians certainly have not. That history requires Americans to tread particularly lightly. Furthermore, American has relatively little investment in Iran, so we have little real leverage. The leaders in this situation should be the EU.

  • smmtheory

    In the specific case of Iran, we have a history of meddling, disastrously, in their internal politics. Most Americans have forgotten the 1953 coup d’etat, but the Iranians certainly have not. That history requires Americans to tread particularly lightly.

    What a crock! That only makes sense if you believe that we should have done nothing to fight against the expansion of Communism. Without that 1953 coup, Iran likely would have been a vassal state of the USSR within a few years.

  • smmtheory

    oops, formatting errors…

    In the specific case of Iran, we have a history of meddling, disastrously, in their internal politics. Most Americans have forgotten the 1953 coup d’etat, but the Iranians certainly have not. That history requires Americans to tread particularly lightly.
    What a crock! That only makes sense if you believe that we should have done nothing to fight against the expansion of Communism. Without that 1953 coup, Iran likely would have been a vassal state of the USSR within a few years.

  • smmtheory
  • smmtheory

    gremlins from the kremlin. My words were suppose to be:

    What a crock! That only makes sense if you believe that we should have done nothing to fight against the expansion of Communism. Without that 1953 coup, Iran likely would have been a vassal state of the USSR within a few years.

  • ex-preacher

    The 1953 Iran coup was about oil, not the Soviets. Iran’s democratically elected leader had nationalized the British oil monopoly in Iran. The US agreed to help Britain overthrow him if US companies could get in on the oil business. Most experts, including many conservatives and libertarians, now agree that the US role was a huge mistake and led directly (though it took a while) to the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

    Wikipedia has a decent article on the US role in the 1953 coup – “Operation Ajax.”

    Secretary of State Dean Acheson admitted that the supposed communist threat was a smokescreen.

    From an article cited at wikipedia:

    “Throughout the crisis, the “communist danger” was more of a rhetorical device than a real issue — i.e. it was part of the cold-war discourse …The Tudeh [Iranian Communist Party] was no match for the armed tribes and the 129,000-man military. What is more, the British and Americans had enough inside information to be confident that the party had no plans to initiate armed insurrection. At the beginning of the crisis, when the Truman administration was under the impression a compromise was possible, Acheson had stressed the communist danger, and warned if Mossadeq was not helped, the Tudeh would take over. The (British) Foreign Office had retorted that the Tudeh was no real threat. But, in August 1953, when the Foreign Office echoed the Eisenhower administration’s claim that the Tudeh was about to take over, Acheson now retorted that there was no such communist danger. Acheson was honest enough to admit that the issue of the Tudeh was a smokescreen.”

  • http://www.zdrw.org Chris Zodrow

    Government control of business is not socialism, it is fascism. Socialism is the redistribution of wealth as well as the cooperative control of the means of production. Wealth redistribution is not the plan here, but rather centralized control of the monetary system by an elite few.

    Mussolini, not Trotsky, is at the helm.

  • http://www.zdrw.org Chris Zodrow

    PS- You would do well to read Eric Margolis’ two books as well as a bit more Iranian history before spilling your colonialist guts on the floor.

    Evangelical worldview? Not mine, thanks.

  • http://www.zdrw.org Chris Zodrow

    One more thing, Israel would like Ahmadinejad to stay in office. As Eric Margolis reports: “Highlighting the complexity of this crisis, Meir Dagan, the head of Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad, reportedly voiced his hope that Iran’s embattled president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, would remain in office. On the surface, that sounds absurd, since Ahmadinejad is Israel’s Great Satan.

    But, according to Dagan, if Ahmadinejad’s supposedly `moderate’ rival, Mir Hossein Mousavi, came to power, it would be harder for Israel to keep up its propaganda war against Iran over Tehran’s nuclear program.”

    Israel is much more catty and conniving than most American evangelicals realize.

  • http://evangelicaloutpost.com cmulready

    Just to highlight the significance of our statements, in terms of the on-going global dialog on freedom and democracy: http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKLP72936320090625?sp=true

    Lang and others have suggested that, given the reception of American statements by those in power in Iran, the President’s silence or hesitant statements are appropriate. My arguement is simply this: Obama should speak boldly for the sake of the rule of law and the democratic process, because what is happening in Iran extends beyond the borders of Iran and the nations of the world are watching. Russia’s response is a perfect example of what I am talking about.

    And, once again, since we’re already the whipping boys of Ahmadinejad, I really don’t buy into the arguement that we should faint from speaking up when he tries to abuse his people to consolidate power.

  • http://evangelicaloutpost.com cmulready

    Chris Zodrow,

    Well, yes, the question of whether or not Obama’s policies are fascist or socialist is a fair one. To arrive at a solid answer, we’d need a few things first though. A consolidated definition of fascism would be a great start (it is actually open for debate). The reality is his policies walk a line somewhere between the two. Businesses are being absorbed by the government; however, there is also a certain ammount of wealth redistribution going on as well. He’s a socialist-fascist hybrid! Can we agree that his policies are frightening and aimed at eroding civil liberties and redefining the American dream from opportunity through self-governance into a government-first collective?

    With regard to the history of American-Iranian relations; this has been brought up a few times, so let me just say this: while we can never avoid our history, it is hardly so straight-forward as being just about our history in the area. The history of Iran and the West didn’t begin 50 years ago, and it wasn’t about oil. There are a million factors at play here, and if we were to insist on resolving the history of the relationship before we move forward, we will never see progress. Communism, Oil, Israel, Terrorism, Nuclear Weapons, etc; and that’s only in the last century.

    That’s not to say we ignore it or act as if nothing has happened. But there is more than a history of one political manipulation, or even the question of oil, on the table. Which is why we shouldn’t allow our involvement with Iran to be limited to being the “bad guy” for what happened in the 1950’s. There has been quite an active on-going discussion with Iran over the past few years with regard to it’s extremist government; because of that (and for the many reasons I have already mentioned) our role should not be defined or limited because we have a difficult history with Iran.

  • smmtheory

    The 1953 Iran coup was about oil, not the Soviets. Iran’s democratically elected leader had nationalized the British oil monopoly in Iran.

    I hear Saddam Hussein was democratically elected quite a few times too, and some people like to point out that Hitler was, and now the Iranian President of the last 4 years claims to have been re-elected democratically. Why do you suppose Iran’s “democratically” elected leader nationalized the British Oil Companies?

    You left out a few other pertinent historical facts as well, but then, your guy won, so I suppose that’s okay, eh? I mean, the Shah was the country’s leader from 1941 on, that is, until he was sent into exile and the Communists could hold their semblance of an election. The British and American led coup actually re-installed the Shah as the leader of the country.

    So it was as much about oil as it was about Communism. It was strategically important to prevent the Communists from controlling the oil coming out of Iran.

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    cmulready:

    George W. Bush is an unindicted war criminal.

    Nobody who’s been involved in singing the praises of his ilk is qualified to do anything other than publicly admit they were wrong, and without that, it merely appears to be yet another instance of right wing propaganda.

    Look the days when the most right-wing extremist elements of US politics could claim any kind of moral legitimacy are over.

    Obama has many faults indeed, including but not limited to his carrying on of the more odious practices of the Bush regime and his failure to pursue the utter political destruction of those forces that gave rise to the previous vice president.

    But any fool can see that there’s no percentage giving the religious right in Iran any reason to claim anything, and it’s utterly risible that suggestions about what to do with the religious right in Iran are coming from their fellow-travelers in the US.

  • smmtheory

    Speaking of President Obama’s position of “not meddling” in Iran, one has to wonder why the same position is not his default position on the momentous events in Honduras.

  • http://www.zdrw.org Chris Zodrow

    Eric Margolis is a über-knowledgeable journalist on Iran and the Middle East in general. He destroyed Soviet tanks along-side the Mujahdeen, long before most Americans even knew there was something going on in that country no-one could find on a map. He has been there and done that.

    You would do well to read his news site and quit trying to be a pundit on something you know nothing about. Truly, everyone has an opinion on this subject, but not everyone can be deeply informed on such a complex subject. Eric Margolis is a rare individual who has such knowledge.

    http://www.ericmargolis.com/

  • http://evangelicaloutpost.com cmulready

    smmtheory,

    That was my question. http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUKTRE55S5J220090629?sp=true

    Lang, if you’re near a computer…any thoughts?

  • Evelyn Baker Lang

    Wow, I step out of wifi territory for a week, and things go crazy!

    Bear with me – I was in the middle of nowhere until a few hours ago, so I’m still catching up on the news. Sarah Palin?! Michael Jackson?! Holy cow!

    But a few thoughts:

    1. Asking whether Obama’s policies are fascist or socialist is a fair question?! Have you forgotten all your history lessons? All your civics? My, we’re throwing terms about without any attempt to define them in here!

    2. Honduras is a very different situation. US involvement hasn’t been the same as in Iran, and the Hondurans don’t view the US (particularly its leadership) in the same way Iranians do. Different situations require different diplomatic tactics. I’m still shocked that you don’t seem to understand the history of US/Iran relations, or that it differs from the US’s relations with other nations. Your foreign analysis is usually much more sophisticated than this. Why are you making exception for Iran?

    That enough for one night? :) I’ll catch up on the rest tomorrow.

  • http://evangelicaloutpost.com cmulready

    Welcome back!

    1. You’re right; who am I, a lowly free citizen to dare to suggest that the policies of ever expanding governmental control might have socialist or fascist trends, and that it is fair to reflect which they most closely resemble? Shame on me.

    On the other hand, assuming I am NOT suffering from amnesia, we could take a look at the discussion and see that I suggested calling him a fascist is problematic, for the very reason that the term is somewhat ambiguous. Socialists, on the other hand, are better defined and it is well within reason to assert that the President’s policies are socialist in nature. You are, of course, free to disagree; my background in civics tells me that.

    2. You’re right; so glad we don’t have any kind of history interfering with South American governments, or that there aren’t dangerous, brutal dictators down south that want to use our involvement to manipulate their nations to hate us. No viable comparison between the two situations.

    But seriously, Lang, how can you be so comfortable with the President treating the voice of the people (in both instances) as unimportant? In BOTH instances, he sides with the villians, rather than championing the voice of the people looking for change. Surely the people we’re agreeing with should give us SOME pause, no? I know it’s not proof that our course is the wrong one, but when Ahmadinejad, Chavez, Castro, Putin agree with what we’re doing, shouldn’t we all reach for the pause button? Beware the company we keep, right?

    You’re right; we have a different relationship with Iran than with other nations, and it is quite different from our relationship with Honduras. We have an ongoing conversation with Iran about their place in the world; Iran wants a seat at the table of nations, which is exactly why we should speak up when they abuse their people. As the leader of the free world, it’s our role to point out when they are failing and how that leads to our position that they MUST NOT get nuclear weapons. All the rest doesn’t matter, for the myriad of reasons I have already discussed; we’re hated no matter what, and words are put in our mouths already. We speak up because we are leaders. Obama completely dropped the ball.

    Conversely, we should either be silent on the situation in Honduras, or support the will of the people. Why we end up denouncing a coup in favor of a dictator, I just don’t get.

    Most disturbing of all is the fact that in less than a month, the President has twice sided with brutal dictatorships over the will of the people. Add to this his consistent inability to take a hard stand for what is right, for the principles that are at the bedrock of our government…and I am very troubled by the intentions of our President.

    Glad to have you back. :)

  • Evelyn Baker Lang

    As for terms – come on, Mulready, you know as well as I do that fascism can’t be used anymore due to its emotional baggage except in the most absolute specific terms.

    Socialism is easier to define, but still grossly misunderstood in most American political discussions. If we define our terms first, I’m happy to use the word socialism according to its proper definition. It covers a fairly broad range of historical economic theories. How would you define it for this conversation?

    On to Honduras…

    It’s sticky, just like Iran, but in a different way. Obama’s support of Zelaya seems more to tweak Chavez and reassert U.S. authority in the region than to make a specific statement on who should be in charge of Honduras – and subsequent statements by the president and Secretary Clinton seem to make that pretty clear. Initially, Chavez tried to claim that the U.S. was behind the coup (like we have been behind quite a few in the region, as you noted). Obama’s insistence that the democratically elected leader remain in power made him shut up pretty quick, and lost him the voice of authority on the issue in the region.

    Now, whether Zelaya was democratically elected is a good question, and whether his “referendum” really was just, as he claimed, a chance for the people to voice their opinion is pretty dubious.

    But just like in Iran (which, regardless of whether Mousavi gained office in the election or not, isn’t anything approaching a democracy), complete regime change to a liberal democracy isn’t within the U.S.’s power to effect. The president’s response to each separate issue has been a calculated attempt to maintain influence in the respective regions and support a move toward democracy without allowing the U.S. to be used as a tool for despots to maintain power.

    But I suppose what we’re really debating is whether or not the rhetoric of the administration will accomplish that goal.

    I’m confident that in the case of Iran, President Obama is taking the right course – and I’m not alone. Many much smarter people have said so.

    I’m not so sure about the Honduran situation. I’ve read good commentary on both sides of the issue, but I really haven’t studied the region enough to know who’s right.

    But it’s tricky, right? Trying to maintain diplomatic relationships with countries that don’t uphold our ideals, especially those that claim to and then don’t, in order to remain influential… it’s a tightrope, for sure.

    What do you think?

  • http://evangelicaloutpost.com cmulready

    Lang,

    I agree; Honduras is complicated, and like you, I admit that I am less familiar with the details of the situation. A cursory examination of the government the people want out suggests that its no friend of the US (which is a plus, but actually doesn’t matter as much as the primary point), but the primary point is this: the PEOPLE want it gone.

    It is tricky, but I think that your dilemma is self-imposed, and unnecessary. I don’t believe we have the burden of maintaining diplomatic relations with everyone; we’re popular and powerful enough that they come to our table; we don’t need to court their votes. And even when we DO court their votes, it often doesn’t produce the results we want (Iraq, Iran, N. Korea, Venezuela, etc). We offer aid, protection, and trade. The benefits of being in a good relationship with us commends us far more than our ability to tip-toe around the egos of dictators.

    National pride in nations under an iron boot only goes so far to turn a populace against us; where is manages to prevail, the nation simply becomes so insignificant that it resorts to making ridiculous and bizarre claims (N. Korea, Cuba, etc). We hold all the cards. Its a dangerous situation, sure, because we could use our power for evil, rather than for good. But our guiding principles help with that, which is exactly why Obama’s utter inability to offer a full-throated defense of those principles is a real matter of concern.

    Over on Hugh Hewitt’s blog, they’ve done a good job of summarizing his spineless and ineffective navigation through this international political storm. http://hughhewitt.townhall.com/blog/g/0ef7aaab-ae56-4ee1-b272-e8081a5ac09b

    I would love to be able to commend the President as being a patriot whose political ideologies I simply disagree with (as I do you). Unfortunately, he has failed to defend the basic principles that establish our nation as the land of the free, the home of the brave. I sincerely doubt his ability or willingness to defend those principles, and much smarter people than I am do as well. It is incredibly disappointing to see a man, whose personal success is in large part the result of those principles, balk at the opportunity to uphold and explore those principles in the international community, espescially when that opportunity is bought with the blood of desperate protestors and people who suffer to partake in the freedoms we enjoy daily.

  • Roger

    Lang,

    I agree that any rhetoric from Obama would be used by the current powers in Iran to fuel anti-American sentiments. I agree that perhaps any dialog from the U.S. is useless in helping the people of Iran to establish a government that will represent the people. Those in power will keep their power at all cost — even to the extent of possibly rigging an election.

    I also believe that with the current Iranian government, Obama probably has no influence in stopping Iran’s current attempt at building nuclear weapons. It is very possible that the Israeli government will have no choice but to act against the impending ‘real’ or ‘perceived’ threat of Iran against the people of Israel. Whether it be bombing the nuclear facility, as was done with Iraq in 1981, or an all out war, perhaps as vicious as the one between Iran and Iraq.

    If Israel does act, people (especially those in academia) will scream out the need for Israel to negotiate — and Israel’s actions will be condemned.

    Why? If Obama has no influence with the current Iranian government to have fair elections that simply represent the will of their own people, than Israel or any others in the international community certainly can’t do any better with halting their development of nuclear weapons. Historically, negotiations with the international community did not work with Iraq.

    The idea that Obama or the international community has no influence with altering the course of the current Iranian government to have fair elections — is a scary concept with global consequences.

    What should we do with a government that doesn’t listen to the will of the majority of its own citizens — or to the concerns of the international community on very important topics?

    Remain silent? Negotiate?

    Respectfully

  • Evelyn Baker Lang

    “The idea that Obama or the international community has no influence with altering the course of the current Iranian government to have fair elections — is a scary concept with global consequences.

    What should we do with a government that doesn’t listen to the will of the majority of its own citizens — or to the concerns of the international community on very important topics? ”

    The idea is scary, but the whole Iranian situation has been scary since 1979. What’s new about that? And just because the US doesn’t have influence in the enforcement of free and fair elections within Iran doesn’t mean other countries of the world are equally ineffective. There’s been a lot of talk trying to urge democratic countries like Japan and others who don’t have an imperialist or otherwise prickly history with Iran to diplomatically intervene.

    As for your second question: what should we do with a government that doesn’t listen to the will of the majority of its own citizens? My goodness, we deal with those government all the time! Where’s this outcry over Sudan? Zimbabwe? Any number of South American or Southeast Asian countries? What about our best buddies, the Saudis?

    We’re only squeamish when we want to be. We only stand on America’s duty to enforce democracy worldwide when it’s convenient to us. That’s not evil, it’s pragmatism – Iran is a dangerous country with leadership we’d rather didn’t have nuclear weapons, and if using its own corruption against it is an effective means of neutralizing that threat, we’ll try.

    That’s great, but let’s not pretend it’s something else. Let’s not pretend we’re so passionately committed to democracy that we must intervene in Iran. If that’s the case, we’d be spending a lot more time and money on Africa.

  • Roger

    My concern is not about the need to spread democracy. I don’t believe that all cultures can necessarily function within a democratic society.

    My only concern is about the current Iranian government and their development of nuclear weapons — the concern of the Israeli government — and potential war involving nuclear weapons.

    Anti-American sentiments have been in Iran since Nixon/Ford (and probably before). A few of my friends went to Iran with family members (parents) who were either working in the oil or defense industry during the Nixon/Ford era. At that time anti-American (west) sentiments were apparent.

    In the past, the international community was not effective. Hopefully, you are correct in that a more neutral country like Japan can have a more positive impact. But I doubt it.

    Perhaps the best thing is for our country is to not be dependent on petroleum, pulling our oil money from those regions. Petroleum has been a dominate factor for us meddling in their affairs — and probably disrupting the natural progression of these societies.

  • Evelyn Baker Lang

    Roger,

    Oh, the anti-western bias goes back much further than Nixon/Ford. America’s been messing with Iranian politics for the latter half of the last century (most disastrously with Mossadeq through Operation Ajax), and they were really only joining the British, who’d been meddling and exercising economic imperialism for much longer than that. The resentment is deeply-entrenched and, sadly, fairly justified. Unfortunately, that’s allowed radical leaders to use that resentment to build political capital that justifies their actions.

    I think you’re right that, long term, the solution is to make countries like Iran less economically important to the US by decreasing our reliance on petroleum-based energy sources. It’s the smartest move we can make for national security. We spent the better part of a century making ourselves less safe for the sake of oil – time to change tactics.

  • smmtheory

    Anti-western bias is built in to Islamism. Deserved? Not as much as Islamism deserves to be eradicated. You have to be operating under some sort of moral equivalency to think it’s justified. When will people quit trying to re-write history? The Shah was re-installed as the ruler of the country with Operation Ajax. If Obama instigated the same type of operation in Honduras to re-install Zelaya, you’d be saying that was a good thing.

  • Roger

    Lang,

    To clarify, the US does not import oil from Iran. Most of Iran’s oil goes to Asia, mainly China and Japan, and the rest goes to Europe. The governments of Iran and the Middle East benefit greatly from the billions in revenue from oil. The World basically gets much of its oil from the region. Think of the complexity of international relations brought on by this trade. Also, the entire world imports to the Middle East! There are a lot of global exchanges of goods and money. There are lots of complex issues.

    I am actually impressed with your implication in how the US has mainly caused all the problems in Iran. We’re the only country that has attempted to influence political governments?! The government of Iran would never attempt to influence its own citizens, or for that matter, other countries of the world. And of course, other countries would never attempt to meddle in Iran’s affairs.

    Historically, families / tribes / religious sects within and between countries of the Middle East attempt to position themselves for financial and political power. The elite in a given country tend to exploit its citizens. People are treated as a commodity, such as women. The word ‘theocracy’ comes to mind, as it is the norm for a number of countries in the Middle East to use religion to control solely for political power. Then there are the violent overthrows for political control – people die – political powers change – then the victor kills anyone perceived as a threat – then things run smoothly for awhile.

    We can also add the beheadings, car bombs, recruitment of children for suicide bombs – and those terrorists from Iran who kill Iraqis – and the list goes on.

    Wow. The US is solely responsible for all this unrest!

    I didn’t realize that the rest of the world consisted of saints.

    Let’s stay out of Honduras … we don’t want to upset anyone.

    The Iranian government accused the US and other Westerners of influencing the unrest in their country! Oh my, why didn’t Obama just remain silent?!

    Can the United Nations (world community) do anything? Is there any talent in the United Nation to do – anything? Isn’t Obama the President of a country that is part of a world community?

    Maybe they could ask the Iranian government to simply stop imprisoning, beating, and killing the protesters. That’s a thought. The United Nations could ask China to do that! After all, China buys lots of oil from Iran – and they are much nicer than the US.

    But, Obama doesn’t have to worry. The press has basically dropped this story.

  • Evelyn Baker Lang

    smmtheory,

    Once again, you insist on ascribing to me views I do not hold. When you’re ready to listen to what I say rather than make me the straw man for your cathartic raving, then I’ll be happy to have a conversation about Iran, Honduras, or any number of political topics. But if you decide that I would approve of military intervention in Honduras (and imply that I would have approved, had I known(which of course I do), of the re-installation of the shah in the 1950s), you’re wrong and we can’t really have a conversation.

    Roger,

    Of course the US doesn’t import oil from Iran – but the oil-rich nature of the region has elevated it above others due to its overall economic importance. I was actually agreeing with a statement you made earlier when I said that.

    And while I think the anti-western bias in Iran is fairly justified by idiotic actions taken by the US and Britain especially, at no time did I say that all of Iran’s problems are the western powers’ fault. I just wish we’d try to understand the history of our relationship with Iran and use that knowledge to try to make better diplomatic decisions in the future instead of doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result.

    Clearly the men in charge of Iran are power-hungry jerks who don’t have the people’s best interest at heart and who are willing to enact violence upon the people to maintain power. But just as clearly, as we’ve seen in the last two months, there are men and women in power who are reasonable and seem to seek democratic reforms for the country.

    We need to find a way to support the reasonable people while opposing the tyrants. But our history with the country makes it a dicey thing, diplomatically-speaking.

    Which is why we need to acknowledge our history with the country and its impact on the country’s current state. It’s not mea culpa, it’s going into things with our eyes open.

  • smmtheory

    Evelyn, here’s what you said:

    America’s been messing with Iranian politics for the latter half of the last century (most disastrously with Mossadeq through Operation Ajax), and they were really only joining the British, who’d been meddling and exercising economic imperialism for much longer than that. The resentment is deeply-entrenched and, sadly, fairly justified.

    I didn’t ascribe that view to you… you did it to yourself. It certainly looks as if you are starting out with the viewpoint that anything done in the national interest of this nation or our allies is by default a bad thing compared to things done in the national interests of the Communist bloc. Do you really assume that the Communist bloc was mischaracterized and maligned, that they did not try to exert influence in direct opposition to us, that they did not attempt to foster anti-Western bias in that region? Maybe when you display a healthy reduction in naivete I’ll be ready to listen to what you have to say.

  • Evelyn Baker Lang

    smmtheory,

    All my statement implies is:

    Due to meddling in Iranian affairs done by the US and Britain, the anti-western bias in Iran is not only explicable, it is fairly justified. We have meddled to their detriment in the past. It seems logical to assume we may do so in the present as well.

    It does not claim:

    1. All problems in Iran are due to the US.
    2. Any action taken by the US in its own interest are necessarily bad.
    3. Iranian leaders do not take advantage of the existing, fairly justifiable anti-western bias to do bad things that are unjustified. In fact, many times, I’ve said that’s exactly what they’re doing and it’s a very bad thing.

    And just by the by, Iran is not and never was part of the Communist bloc.

  • Roger

    Lang,

    Sorry for the last response. I accidently excluded the first paragraph when I copied and paste the script into EO.

    I probably should not have posted. My reply was a knee-jerk response to a simple theme often stated in the US that we have cause all problems in the Middle East. However, your response indicates that this in not your view.

    I am rather disappointed in President Obama for not doing anything at this time. I think that “A Time for Silence” has passed. The structure of the Iranian is government is dissolving down to – I don’t know – a dictatorship?

    President Obama went to Egypt to mend relationships. So, we could say that the US stepped up to the plate. Now, it is time for the Middle East countries, and perhaps world community (United Nations) to step up to the plate regarding the sham Iranian election. One would think that with the President’s unique personal background (in comparison to other Presidents) he could come up with a dynamic response to this matter.

    This is a clear example of how the Middle East countries (and International community) are responsible for allowing a government regime to brutalize its own citizens – in their own back yard. This is a clear example of how a government can dissolve down to something less – becoming a system that is more difficult to negotiate with on important issues. These factors have nothing to do with Christianity or negative influences from the West.

    And, unfortunately, President Obama is doing nothing. At this time, has he contributed to this deterioration in Iran and shown a lack of leadership? The answer is leaning towards ‘yes’. This doesn’t look like the “Change we need” in the Middle East.