Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How Should America Deal with Developments in Iran?

I happen to agree with Jonathan Chait of the New Republic, as well as Joe Lieberman, although their positions may appear to contradict. Chait brings up John Kerry’s campaign and the support it received from foreign dignitaries:
“When Kerry mentioned that numerous foreign leaders hoped he would win, the Republican Party produced a mocking video entitled "John Kerry, International Man of Mystery." Conservative pundits pounced with rhetoric like this, from Wes Pruden of the Washington Times:

Monsieur Kerry, the rage of Paris, the toast of Berlin, sprouting in Brussels and boffo in Brittany, continues to insist that a lot of world leaders have endorsed him, but only privately. ...

It’s not clear how French frenzy, German gaga, Belgian delirium or partisan hysteria in Luxembourg will help Monsieur Kerry and the Democrats at home. Taking solace in foreign approval when things go sour at home has become a Democratic disease.

John Fund of the Wall Street Journal gloated that the Kerry campaign was:
...now doing what it can to bury the candidate's connections with France, where he spent many summers as a youth with a flock of French cousins in St.-Briac-sur-Mer, a resort town where his maternal grandfather had built an estate. ...

Mr. Kerry's larger problem is that his public career has been far more attuned to the sensibilities of foreign leaders and countries than Americans are used to seeing in a president.

And, indeed, Kerry's campaign was forced to announce:

"It is simply not appropriate for any foreign leader to endorse a candidate in America's presidential election. John Kerry does not seek, and will not accept, any such endorsements."

Perhaps Wehner thinks that the Iranian people are less suspetible to this sort of nationalist demagouery than the American people? Or maybe he thinks the Iranian mullahs have more intellectual integrity than, say, Karl Rove? Or else the question of how to support Iran's liberals is more than a simple matter of moral courage.
Joe Lieberman argues that US citizens and its politicans need to stand with the forces standing against the dictatorial character of the Iranian regime. Here is his interview on Fox News.

I judge Obama is right to remain fairly silent on this matter. Obama is the President and most recognizable American, and his words will carry weight. The last thing the opposition in Iran needs is to be tagged as stooges for the West (although there will surely be elements in the Iranian government who will do so regardless). Playing it safe at the top is smart at this moment, but that should not mean the average American follows suit. It is vital that we stand up with those struggling against the regime, and that their significance will not go unheard. If we as liberals and free people stand for nothing else, it is the right of a people to dissent.


jams o donnell said...

reed for Obama to weigh in with strong condemnation at this stage would have ben counter productive at best and disastrous at worst

Roland Dodds said...

I agree Jams. Some of the folks at HotAir have been arguing that Reagan came out strongly in support of Poland and its citizens in their fight against Soviet domination, but I think they are leaving out some historical context there. I do not believe that this current fight in Iran is going to overthrow the regime, but what it may produce is an opposition movement that is better organized and focused. So at this stage, I don’t think it will help their cause if Obama speaks on specific Iranian leaders’ behalf, but I would like to see Obama make the case he made earlier this week more forcefully (that a people have a right to chose their leaders and a right to dissent).