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.

History Repeating Itself As Tragedy

Will Collier notes that Obama is acting like Jimmy Carter in 1979:

Rather than offering any crumbs of support to the Iranians who are literally putting their lives on the line for their own freedom, Barack Obama could only manage “deep concerns.” In Obamaland, it’s not as important to offer even moral support to people trying to shake off the yoke of a barbaric dictatorship as it is to not appear to be “meddling.”

This all sounds quite familiar, and everyone over 30 has seen it before. Did somebody replace the “community activist” with a self-righteous peanut farmer while we weren’t looking?

The fantasy that “moderates” within the mullah regime can be coaxed into a “grand bargain” has taken in better men than Barack Obama, but Obama doesn’t even have the excuse of not being aware of that prior history. The level of self-loathing an American has to possess to believe that the Khomeinists are a brutal, terror-supporting regime entirely because the US hasn’t been nice enough to them is pretty staggering.

President Obama is laboring under the entirely mistaken premise that because the U.S. overthrew the Mossadegh regime 30 years before most Iranians were even born, that someone we have no legitimacy in the region. That assumption is pure garbagemdash;Obama unquestionably has great power to at the very least show solidarity to the Iranian people. Even French President Nicolas Sarkozy felt free to uncategorically condemn Iranian brutality.

When the French are showing far more spine than you are, it’s a sure sign you’re on the wrong side of the issue.

President Obama is wasting his capital in the Middle East by sitting on the sidelines. The idea that a U.S. show of support would hurt the Green Revolutionaries in Iran is a myth. President Bush openly showed support for the March 14th protesters in Lebanon seeking to end the Syrian occupation of their country. Despite President Bush’s low standing in the region, that call did not hurt the Lebanese people’s cause. Why in the world does Obama think that joining the chorus of world leaders will hurt?

Collier seems correctmdash;Obama shares in the worldview of placing blame on the United States. He is unwilling to use America’s capital because he doesn’t believe in it. He quite literally blames America for the situation rather than seeing the United States as a force that could put its weight behind the crucial cause of freedom in Iran.

John Podhoretz makes the controversial, but compelling argument that Obama’s interests are best served by an Ahmadinejad win. Given that Obama has been taking steps towards deacute;tente with the Iranians and the subtle legitimization of the Ahmadinejad/Khameini regime, having that regime suddenly lose all legitimacy undercuts all of that work and makes Obama look like a fool. Obama’s interests are in a swift return to “normalcy” rather than a messy revolution and a nascent Iranian democracymdash;that reeks too much of George W. Bush for the Obama foreign policy team to take.

A show of solidarity is not “meddling”, especially when the rest of the world has made their position clear. Obama is showing no leadership on that issue, as the Iranian people are inspiring with their bravery. If ever there was a time when “hope” and “change” were needed by a people, the Iranians need it now. Too bad that on this issue Barack Obama is one again voting “present”.