Patterico's Pontifications

6/15/2009

Obama Refuses to Condemn Crackdown on Iranian Protests

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:40 pm

Allahpundit has the rundown on the protests today in Iran, which were reportedly 2 to 3 million strong. (See also DRJ’s post below.) I wore green at work today but didn’t see too many others doing so; I’m not sure how widespread that message was. Obama is naturally refusing to criticize the crackdown that materialized. Spare me the nonsense about how wise and restrained that is. As Allahpundit says:

(a) the demonization’s going to happen anyway, (b) no one’s asking Obama to send in the Marines, just to speak up, and (c) Angela Merkel managed to issue a statement earlier today calling the Basij thuggery “completely unacceptable” without killing the uprising in its crib.

These links are in Allahpundit’s post, but (content warning) here is a taste of what Obama’s refusing to condemn.

Letterman Apologizes to Palin

Filed under: Politics — DRJ @ 6:56 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

I think.

The apology will air on tonight’s show. Big Hollywood has the full text, including this faintly familiar part:

“And then I was watching the Jim Lehrer ‘Newshour’ – this commentator, the columnist Mark Shields, was talking about how I had made this indefensible joke about the 14-year-old girl, and I thought, ‘Oh, boy, now I’m beginning to understand what the problem is here. It’s the perception rather than the intent.’ It doesn’t make any difference what my intent was, it’s the perception. And, as they say about jokes, if you have to explain the joke, it’s not a very good joke. And I’m certainly – ” (audience applause) “– thank you. Well, my responsibility – I take full blame for that. I told a bad joke. I told a joke that was beyond flawed, and my intent is completely meaningless compared to the perception. And since it was a joke I told, I feel that I need to do the right thing here and apologize for having told that joke. It’s not your fault that it was misunderstood, it’s my fault. That it was misunderstood.” (audience applauds)

“Thank you. So I would like to apologize, especially to the two daughters involved, Bristol and Willow, and also to the governor and her family and everybody else who was outraged by the joke. I’m sorry about it and I’ll try to do better in the future. Thank you very much.” (audience applause)

— DRJ

Iran News Update (Updated x2)

Filed under: International,Obama — DRJ @ 1:37 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Gunfire erupted at today’s massive Tehran demonstration in support of Mousavi. One protester was killed and several others wounded by “government-sponsored militia.” Meanwhile, the Obama Administration is still taking a wait-and-see approach (or, Biden’s words, a “waiting to see” approach) in deciding how to respond:

“The United States was “deeply troubled” by reports of violence and arrests in Iran, State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said, but he added that the U.S. knows too little about the conduct of the election to say for sure whether there was fraud.”

Or, as Press Secretary Gibbs explained:

“Obviously we continue to have concern about what we’ve seen. Obviously the Iranians are looking into this, as well. We continue to be heartened by the enthusiasm of young people in Iran.

But I think what’s important is the concerns that we have about their nuclear weapons program, and the concern we have about their support for terror isn’t any different than it was on Friday.”

In one of his last interviews before taking office, Obama complained about the Bush approach to foreign policy in the Middle East:

“We’re going to need to have — we have to end an approach that sees all the various problems in the Middle East as discrete, you know, so that we have got an Afghanistan policy and we have got a Pakistan policy, and the Pakistan and Afghanistan policies aren’t integrated, or we have got an Iran policy and an Iraq policy and a Syria policy and they are all off in different directions.

“I think one of the principles that we’ll be operating under is that these things are very much related and that if we have got an integrated approach, we’re going to be more effective.”

As Karl explains, Obama’s “integrated approach” to U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East is to vote Present.

UPDATE 1: Via the Instapundit, Gateway Pundit says at least 15 Iranians have been killed.

UPDATE 2: The Instapundit has changed his banner to green, I think to honor and support the Iranian protesters.

— DRJ

Pro-Mousavi Rallies in Iran; Don’t Underestimate the Significance of This Coup

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:19 am

Yesterday Iranians on Twitter posted messages of intent to march at 4 p.m. today in support of Mir Hossein Mousavi, the principal pro-reform opponent of Ahmadinejad. (Current local time is about 6:47 p.m.) The Iranian government declared any such protests illegal, but AP reports that the marches took place anyway:

Tens of thousands of supporters of pro-reform leader Mir Hossein Mousavi are streaming through the center of Tehran in a boisterous protest against election results that declared President Mamoud Ahmadinejad the winner.

The crowd — many wearing the trademark green color of Mousavi’s campaign — was headed toward the capital’s huge Freedom Square in the largest display of opposition unity since Friday’s elections ended with Mousavi claiming widespread fraud.

Surprisingly, the evidence of dissent-crushing we saw over the weekend does not yet appear to have materialized. Here is a photo.

Don’t make the mistake of underestimating the importance of Dinnerjacket’s coup. It is conventional wisdom that the election was irrelevant because the true levers of power are operated by Khamenei. Maybe and maybe not. This interview with a dissident and former government leader suggests that Dinnerjacket uses Khamenei as his puppet and not the other way around. The source of his power: his relationship with the Revolutionary Guard, which controls the flow of information to the Supreme Leader:

A: After the last election [2005], after Ahmadinejad was first elected, there were many questions raised about Ahmadinejad’s effort to isolate the Leader. We talked openly about this. . . .

Q: And what do you mean by “isolating” the Leader?

A: By monitoring and controlling the flow of information to him. Unfortunately, God will not reveal information to him directly. Where does he get his information, his data? The system works in such a way that information is very powerful. And Ahmadinejad controls the ministry of the interior, the ministry of information, the ministry of intelligence.

(H/t Allahpundit.) Further evidence of this thesis emerges today, in pieces suggesting that Khamenei’s speech blessing Ahmadinejad’s “victory” was written for him. None of this is conclusive, of course, but it should give pause to those who assume without further analysis that Ahmadinejad is a powerless figurehead.

It should also cause some to question the significance of Khamenei’s decision to ask for a probe of allegations of vote fraud. The Supreme Leader already blessed the result as a “divine assessment” — Mousavi’s supporters say before the votes were counted. Having screwed up the charade so badly, it may well be that Ahmadinejad is ordering the probe to give some perceived after-the-fact legitimacy to the election that he rigged so obviously.

The upshot of all this, as described by the author of the analysis of Khamenei’s speech:

Mr. Ahmadinejad’s victory has the merit of clarifying the situation within the Islamic Republic. The choice is now between a repressive regime based on a bizarre and obscurantist ideology and the prospect of real change and democratization. There is no halfway house.

Ah well. Obama will know what to do.

Iranians Detonate Reality Bomb

Filed under: General — Karl @ 6:28 am

[Posted by Karl]

The seemingly stolen Iranian election (though by whom remains an open question) is a reality bomb that exploded in the faces of the Obama administration, and much of the Left. If this was a Chuck Jones classic, their faces would be blackened and hair blown back in a spiky mess, in the grand tradition of Daffy Duck or Wile E. Coyote.

After floating the fanciful notion that Obama’s outreach was remaking the Muslim world, they have been caught flat-footed:

A senior Obama administration official who did not want to be identified or quoted explained that the president was deeply conscious of appearing not to favor any side in the election. Officials had ruled out calling for a recount or a revote out of a concern for undermining the Iranian opposition. The official said it was important to have a policy toward Iran that advanced the administration’s desire for liberalization and human rights in Iran, not one that merely vented American outrage at Ahmadinejad.

Courageous Iranians face death in the streets for “reform” that was marginal at best, while Obama is trying to vote “present,” and the Euroweenie Union rolls over. The Germans have sounded a bigger alarm than the Man From Hopenchange. The US government refrains even from strong statements supporting free and fair elections, for fear of undermining the dissidents. This mode of thinking overlooks that Ahmadinejad’s thugocracy will deal with their opponents as they see fit, and blame the Great Satan whenever it suits them, regardless of what the US says or does. Indeed, Obama’s silence has not stopped Ahmadinejad from publicly planning a purge of his rivals.

The Obama administration sees approach this as part of their foreign policy realism:

[T]he primary concerns the White House has about Iran are not about free and fair elections. The concerns are: Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and its support for terrorism.

“We have to deal with the Iran that we have rather than the Iran that we wish we had,” says the official.

Obama’s immediate problem is that the naked power grab ongoing in Iran has exposed to even the casual observer that “the Iran we have” is the Iran we have always had. Obama’s larger problem is that still seems to hold the notion that he can “deal” with Iran in the sense of “engagement,” even after the reality bomb has detonated. In a Chuck Jones cartoon, the effects of a bomb tend to vanish in the next scene, but things do not work that way in the real world. The notion that Iran’s policies are a function of US policy generally, and US diplomacy in particular is not foreign policy realism; it is foreign policy unrealism. Until Obama figures that out, events will keep exploding in his face.

–Karl


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