A Time For Solidarity

David Ignatius has an excellent column on why the revolution in Iran is so important, and why President Obama should stand up and show solidarity with the Iranian people:

President Obama was right to speak carefully about the events in Iran during the first week of protest. But it’s time for him to express his solidarity with the Iranians who are so bravely taking to the streets each day. He can do that without seeming to meddle if he chooses his words wisely.

Obama should invoke the Iranian yearning for justice — which was a powerful theme of the revolution. He should cite Iran’s own rich history of political reform, going back to Cyrus the Great, whose declaration of human rights was chiseled in the Cyrus Cylinder in 539 B.C. He should cite the Iranian constitution of 1906, which established elections and basic freedoms. Democracy is not an American imposition but an Iranian tradition.

“We clearly have to be on the right side of history here,” says Karim Sadjadpour of the Carnegie Endowment and an informal adviser to the White House. But he cautions that “if we try to insert ourselves into the momentous internal Iranian drama that’s unfolding, we may unwittingly undermine those whom we’re trying to strengthen.”

President Obama’s unwillingness to make a statement of solidarity is puzzling. Direct intervention would be a very bad idea, but the myth that any act of official support would harm the pro-democracy movement seem wrong. For one, the idea that the Iranian people actually still care about the overthrow of Mossadegh seems unlikely: Iran is a country where most the population was born after the 1979 revolution: Mossadegh is ancient history. Secondly, Obama has already “meddled” by requesting the Twitter delay maintenance to allow Iranian dissidents to communicate—a move that undoubtedly helped the Iranian resistance.

This is a time for solidarity. The free people of the world cannot turn a blind eye to the oppression that is harming the Iranian people—especially as the Khameini/Ahmadinejad regime tries to crack down on the protesters.

The people of Iran are risking their lives for the cause of freedom. As human beings, we cannot ignore their pleas. The very least the American government can do is put its moral authority into pressuring the Iranian government to avoid bloodshed. President Obama has, undoubtedly, a massive amount of political capital on the world stage. He should use it and he should make it clear that while the United States will not intervene unless asked, that we are with those who seek individual rights and human dignity anywhere they may be.