Patterico's Pontifications


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.


79 Responses to “Iran News Update (Updated x2)”

  1. It isn’t just Obama. I just saw a report on the news about the “rioting” last night. It took me a few minutes to figure out that the rioting they were talking about was the minor scuffle in LA, not the actual, you know, riots over in Tehran.

    Sean P (e57269)

  2. Wouldn’t overt encouragement from the American president hurt more than help Mousavi and the opposition?

    Tim McGarry (9fe080)

  3. Tim, I think there’s certainly a risk of that.

    aphrael (9e8ccd)

  4. Wouldn’t overt encouragement from the American president hurt more than help Mousavi and the opposition?

    No one really knows.

    But we should lean on countries to withdraw their recognitions of an Ahmadinejad victory. You stay indifferent to the plight of Iranian dissidents and you send the wrong message to governing autocrats in the Middle East.

    steve (c598ec)

  5. I don’t know if Obama is wrong to “wait and see”, but I do think it’s a ‘discrete’ policy designed to respond specifically to Iran. In other words, it’s exactly what Obama said was the wrong thing to do a mere 5 months ago.

    DRJ (8b9d41)

  6. #2.- Tim, not now. It is up to Iranians to fan the these embers of liberty into a flame– or let it flame out. But they fact the powers that be were not capable of quashing this anticipated reaction betrays how weak it may be. They will have to brutally crush this rebellion or accept change.

    DCSCA (9d1bb3)

  7. Akin to Kerry, he was against it before he was for it.

    Dmac (f7884d)

  8. Aphrael – President Obama has been touted as a leader who can heal rifts among various factions around the globe, and effectively bring very disparate elements together.

    The implication that he does not have the capability to effectively word a statement in a way that will not be misconstrued would seem to contradict that assertion.

    Apogee (e2dc9b)

  9. #5- DRJ- Situations change. This could blossom the way the United States, and the world, would like. It’s a critical period and the best course is to mute any overt discourse as the Iranians play out their hands.

    DCSCA (9d1bb3)

  10. I always thought “Democracy and Freedom” was a pretty simple over-arching ME policy myself … but I did not go to Harvard.

    HeavenSent (1e97ff)

  11. DCSCA,

    That may be but the same thing could have been said about Iraq, couldn’t it?

    DRJ (8b9d41)

  12. Apogee: I think anything anyone in the west says, with any sort of official imprimatur, can be deliberately misinterpreted by those who would use it to their own ends.

    In this case: the last thing we want is to give the semblance of truth to the claim that these protests are nothing more than counter-revolutionaries riled up by the west. That would harm the very people we want to help.

    aphrael (9e8ccd)

  13. #11- Iraq and Iran are two separate countries and at different stages of development. It appears the Iranian regime is more fragile than Iran was when Saddam crushed dissent. The situation in Iran now really reminds me of Russia or the satellite countries as the Berlin Wall fell. It can go either way now in Iran, and a positive outcome treasured all the more by them because they found it for themselves.

    DCSCA (9d1bb3)

  14. Doing nothing with Iran hardly seems like an “integrated” approach. I guess Obama’s buzz word bingo is no substitute for a real foreign policy.

    SPQR (72771e)

  15. #13- DRJ- It appears the Iranian regime is more fragile than Iran was when Saddam crushed dissent. I meant Iraq was when Saddam crushed dissent.

    DCSCA (9d1bb3)

  16. So am I to understand if Obama came out and said “We encourage all Iranians to seek freedom and democracy.” is akin to undermining Mousavi?

    HeavenSent (1e97ff)

  17. #16- You know, when Apollo 11 was at a critical point in its descent to the moon, and could have aborted or landed, the flight director got on the loop and told the team to shut up and let’em land. Which is exactly what they did. By saying nothing right now, President Obama is speaking volumes. He’s letting Iran land.

    DCSCA (9d1bb3)

  18. Yes, the silence is deafening!

    AD - RtR/OS! (956a02)

  19. Aphrael – the last thing we want is to give the semblance of truth to the claim that these protests are nothing more than counter-revolutionaries riled up by the west.

    You may be correct, however, it is also possible that silence could be perceived as weakness on the part of the west, which could be negatively interpreted by a culture that values authority.

    I don’t pretend to have the answer, but I agree with HeavenSent @ 2:51 that it would be entirely possible to say something along the lines of: “All the Iranian People are important and deserve to be heard.” You don’t have to support a side, but supporting the people is hard to misconstrue.

    Again, President Obama may be correct in silence, but it contradicts his established PR image as someone who can, by his actions, bring people together. That is a proactive image, and allowing others to ‘sort things out’ is not proactive. Anyone elected to office can achieve that.

    Apogee (e2dc9b)

  20. DCSCA is right.

    Obama is not saying anything to support the Ahmadenijad coup … which is on some level implicitly supporting the protestors. But by not saying anything at all, he makes Ahmadenijad’s claims that the protestors are just western stooges appear to be as ridiculous as they are.

    aphrael (9e8ccd)

  21. I won’t repeat what I posted on another thread about Sharansky but it applies. Obama could say “I pray for the safety of these young people who only want freedom.”

    But he won’t. What he did was fire Dennis Ross, who has been wised up by his experience with Arafat in 2000, as our special envoy. He was probably not obsequious enough to dinner jacket.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  22. Everyone knows that Democracy is just like solving a problem with LEM software alarms.

    SPQR (72771e)

  23. If Obama were to pick PRINCIPLES instead of POLITICS — it would be easy to make a policy statement on Iran.

    But to do so does undermines his cynical view of the USA and its History in the Middle East.

    Since the USA is a source of injustice, it should not be involved in seeking justice for others … that is until HE FEELS WE ARE NO LONGER A SOURCE OF INJUSTICE … then we/he can prance around giving everyone lectures.

    Anyone see his nonsense at the AMA today?

    HeavenSent (1e97ff)

  24. In this crisis, I don’t care “what Obama said a mere five months ago.” Seeing how all this plays out is not rewarding bad behavior.

    Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered an investigation of election fraud. Ahmadinejad canceled a trip to Russia. These are extraordinary events no matter how jaded you are.

    steve (3b08ec)

  25. If I were standing up to a murderous whack-job thieving arsehole to try to bring Democracy to my country, I would like to know without a doubt, that the US of A had my back. Might it not put a little more steel in their spine to know that we will help them retain their democracy as opposed to allowing the brutes to steal an election right in front of the world’s eyes?

    This nonsense about dealing with whatever regime is in power, and that our primary concern is nukes is not going to help. Our primary concern should be a statement of principles that we are willing to commit to, and a statement of support for the people in Iran that no longer are willing to live under the thumb of the Muslim whack jobs.

    This whole idea that we are doing anything about their nukes is laughable too, give the fact that Teh One legitimized their quest for nuclear electrical power which the whole world knows is the guise that gives cover to their nuclear program.

    I blame Bush.

    JD (9df895)

  26. Obama is a good speech giver… he could have asked his speechwriters to email a speech to his teleprompter people that had a reference to “free, open and honest elections” BEFORE the Iranian election and he could make that same point again now.
    If Obama wanted to.
    The words could have been delivered as an indirect message that free, open and honest elections were expected…. and again as indirect disappointment that perhpas free, open and honest elections may not have occurred.
    That language says we are watching, we care. That can be said softly, but it needs to be said.
    Leadership and all that.
    Right now we have soft power minus the power.
    Maybe the left thinks that Bush rendered us impotent; we’ve lost the moral high ground.
    That is a false choice.
    Obama projects a very weak and fuzzy power to outlaw regimes that plays well to self hating liberals here, but is laughable to the actual despots in charge of suffering people.

    I think we have it backwards…. Steve Rattner should be doing foreign policy, putting the strongarm on dictators.
    Obama, with his unerring grasp of what is good or evil of course has Rattner strongarming GM instead

    SteveG (c99c5c)

  27. On a different note…. when do the Bermuda jihadis get a multi million dollar book deal detailing their torture at Guantanamo?

    SteveG (c99c5c)

  28. SteveG – Interesting point. They seem to have taken a harder line with the capital investors of GM & Chrysler than they have with murdering dictators.

    JD (9df895)

  29. I like Jules Crittenden’s line: “Punting for Peace”

    SPQR (72771e)

  30. SPQR – Biden’s is Plagarizing for Peace

    JD (9df895)

  31. Also, if President Obama understood that his comments could be disruptive to the Iranian election process, why did he comment in his Egyptian speech:

    The fourth issue that I will address is democracy.

    I know there has been controversy about the promotion of democracy in recent years, and much of this controversy is connected to the war in Iraq. So let me be clear: no system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other.

    That does not lessen my commitment, however, to governments that reflect the will of the people. Each nation gives life to this principle in its own way, grounded in the traditions of its own people. America does not presume to know what is best for everyone, just as we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election. But I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn’t steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. Those are not just American ideas, they are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere.

    There is no straight line to realize this promise. But this much is clear: governments that protect these rights are ultimately more stable, successful and secure. Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. America respects the right of all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard around the world, even if we disagree with them. And we will welcome all elected, peaceful governments – provided they govern with respect for all their people.

    This last point is important because there are some who advocate for democracy only when they are out of power; once in power, they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others. No matter where it takes hold, government of the people and by the people sets a single standard for all who hold power: you must maintain your power through consent, not coercion; you must respect the rights of minorities, and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; you must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party. Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy.

    Some are even saying that the President’s speech influenced the hard liners to overplay their hand. If that is the case, then there is an acknowledgment that words from the west do matter, effectively influencing the outcome.

    IOW, if words do have an effect, then silence is not an option. The speech already laid the groundwork – failure to follow up could backfire into showing the sentiments as empty platitudes.

    Something could possibly be worded to reiterate what has already been said, but it would take just the steady hand that we’ve been told that President Obama possesses. If words don’t matter, then silence doesn’t matter.

    Apogee (e2dc9b)

  32. JD, did Neal Kinnock say that too? 😉

    SPQR (72771e)

  33. No, I think it was Al Franken.

    225 days and counting.

    poon (093c46)

  34. I believe Ray Parker said that, SPQR.

    Dmac (f7884d)

  35. Obama could say this:

    “To those who would tear this world down – we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security – we support you. And to all those who have wondered if America’s beacon still burns as bright – tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.

    Wait. Obama already said that, just 7 months ago.

    DRJ (8b9d41)

  36. Obama did pretty good there a minute ago.

    SteveG (c99c5c)

  37. This tactic among some of Obama’s supporters claiming that whatever Obama said, he really means something else, or that his silence doesn’t mean an endorsement of the Mullahs, but instead means suppport for the protestors – is becoming a little much. No different from the election, when everyone wanted to see/hear whatever they wished from Obama, no matter that he basically wasn’t saying anything of substance to begin with.

    Dmac (f7884d)

  38. “The Whole World is Watching”

    –Chicago, 1968
    –Tehran, 2009

    Kevin Murphy (805c5b)

  39. DRJ, the difference between that speech 7 months ago and today is that today IT MEANS SOMETHING TODAY.

    When you believe in nothing but yourself you frequently paralyze yourself with “on-the-other hand” facts without seeking a principle to rest your mind on.

    A Principled Man would say something …

    But just as interesting, for all the Bush Moron talk he at least had something to say. Empty Suit just sits around navel gazing.He probably has a stack of reports to the roof he will read to come to no conclusion.

    False intellect to the core.

    HeavenSent (1e97ff)

  40. “no system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other.”–Obama

    Yeah? You going to apply that principle to Germany and Japan in 1945?


    Dave Surls (619d6c)

  41. is saying the election will stand. This may support the theory I have read that this is a coup against the mullahs by Ahmadinejad. If so, this is very bad news for Israel and for the oil consuming part of the world.

    MIke K (2cf494)

  42. State Department refuses to condemn crack down.

    I guess they need to keep their options open. Present. Nuance.

    Robert Heinlein's Ghost (dcebbd)

  43. I do not unnerstand cause it was just recently that everyone even stupid people like journalists would have known that our little country was four-square on the side of freedom in Iran and now are you for real telling me that if the Barack Obama said we were on the side of freedom in Iran then that would be delegitimizing of freedom in Iran?

    What a sucky president to have that you have to wonder if he supports freedom or not and to be told even if he did support freedom then he’d just make tyranny look more better.

    I remember back when President Bush was really almost nonchalant about expressing the idea that our little country stood for freedom. I miss that kind of clarity. I think a lot of people do. Iranian kids, in particular.

    happyfeet (71f55e)

  44. His comments today were pathetic. Unless he is doing something covert, he just threw the Iranian patriots under the bus in the hopes of getting worthless promises of disarmament from Hitler …er, A-jad.

    Patricia (2183bb)

  45. Isn’t A-jad that man what was putting it good to Palin’s little girl last week at the baseball game?

    happyfeet (71f55e)

  46. is saying the election will stand.

    George Friedman’s comments appear to back up the conclusion reached by the pollsters who penned an op-ed piece in today’s Washington Post.

    Ahmadinejad is even more of a threat if he, in fact, has the support of a large percentage of the people he rules over. As such, he undoubtedly must feel even more emboldened to push his and Iran’s weight around if he knows the Iranian electorate is giving him the thumbs up.

    He doesn’t hesitate to say truly outrageous things (eg, about the Holocaust), while the guy now in the Oval Office is too timid to say much more than “I talk out of both sides of my mouth, and I may or may not be a big pushover!”

    Mark (411533)

  47. Letterman apologizes for Palin.

    Maybe one day Obama will apologize for being quiet over Iran.

    Joe (dcebbd)

  48. Present and unaccounted for.
    Woe is us.

    bob (466a1d)

  49. Good pictures of crowd in BBC Report. Interview with one of the “defeated” candidates.

    Kevin Murphy (805c5b)

  50. We continue to be heartened by the enthusiasm of young people in Iran.

    Is Robert Gibbs serious? Enthusiasm? People showed enthusiasm when the Lakers won. This is not enthusiasm: this is the desperate move of a populous who are angry, frustrated and finding their voice while collectively expressing their desire and demand for something more than what they’ve been given. Gibbs insults them by this childish assessment. And I don’t think it’s just a matter of semantics. If Gibbs is Obama’s spokesperson and he sees this as “enthusiasm”, then I am not hopeful Obama will do much more than ask us us to cheer them on. Rah.

    Dana (aedf1d)

  51. I guess he means “enthusiastic” is when you’re getting your head beat in and summarily executed for simply speaking your mind. Yea, team!


    Dmac (f7884d)

  52. More on Obama’s idea of enthusiasm:

    Whereas The One was “shocked and outraged” by the murder of George Tiller, the most he can muster here for mass beatings and cold-blooded killings across Iran is that he’s “troubled.” Make of it what you will.

    Interesting. The Age of Obama.

    MIke K (2cf494)

  53. Mike K – Don’t forget the real-life object lesson we got from Teh One where he was “shocked and outraged” about Tiller within a few hours, and did not even lower himself to speak of the murdered American serviceman, Pvt. Long, until several days (almost a week) after the fact, and only then just troubled. He could not have a messy little thing like a Muslim with ties to terrorism murdering an American soldier on American soil mess up his self-congratulatory jaunt through the Middle East and Europe.

    JD (9df895)

  54. Biden was right. In the first six months, Odumba will be tested…

    and found wanting.

    Bill M (cd4c7c)

  55. You have been weighed,
    And measured,
    and been found wanting.

    One of my all-time favorite movie quotes.

    JD (9df895)

  56. Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin

    if memory serves, JD.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  57. A Knight’s Tale – I think it is actually Chaucer.

    JD (9df895)

  58. JD,uh … Daniel 5:1-31

    SPQR (26be8b)

  59. I updated the post with an Instapundit link to a Gateway Pundit post that says at least 15 Iranians have been killed.

    DRJ (180b67)

  60. Yeah, I am a dumm ass.

    JD (9df895)

  61. Now, I’d never say something like that, JD.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  62. I would, SPQR. I had never heard that quote, or at least could not recall it, outside of a rather average comedy.

    JD (9df895)

  63. Wait. Obama already said that, just 7 months ago.

    This is some smoking gun?

    Obama said he is “deeply troubled” by events in Iraq and will “pursue a tough, direct dialogue between our two countries and see where it takes us” — so that means he has abandoned “the enduring power” of democracy, liberty, opportunity and hope, and now forsakes “those who seek peace and security?”

    Mousavi had said Iran will not halt its nuclear work. Obviously, no regional “security” was about to be enshrined, certainly not Israel’s.

    Iran candidates have to be vetted by the Guardian Council, which is selected by the Supreme leader. People don’t have a say in this process. The “power of democracy, liberty, opportunity and hope” was never really within their grasp.

    steve (51bbed)

  64. According to an actual Iranian in Iran, the administration’s silence helps the cause….

    A former student of mine from Iran heard from his brother for the first time in a couple of days. When my student bemoaned the cautiousness of Obama administration’s statements, his brother confirmed one aspect of Spencer Ackerman’s account of……

    Acephalous (0436bf)

  65. Steve – The “power of democracy, liberty, opportunity and hope” was never really within their grasp.

    But the realization of the people of Iran that it is they who actually have a say in the running of their country is an important waypoint on the path to self-determination without the mullahs.

    The people aren’t stupid. They know how the selections are made, and what part of the ‘choice’ is theirs. I may be wrong, but it appears that public opinion regarding the frustration over the lack of a clear choice in the direction of their country has reached a tipping point in Iran.

    This is exactly the time to speak up about the rights of the people for self-determination, not vague promises to ‘pursue’ ‘dialogue’ with unnamed leaders.

    Apogee (e2dc9b)

  66. #50- Dana, see #16. Patience. “Let’em land.”

    DCSCA (9d1bb3)

  67. #68- Dana, #17, too.

    DCSCA (9d1bb3)

  68. Hitchens as usual cuts through some bullshit: “Fascism at home sooner or later means fascism abroad. Face it now or fight it later. Meanwhile, give it its right name.”

    Joe (17aeff)

  69. Joe – Face it now or fight it later.

    Agreed. However, the ones that end up fighting it later aren’t the same ones that can’t seem to face it now.

    Apogee (e2dc9b)

  70. I personally think that this would be the perfect time for some Iranian nuclear reactors to be bombed from high altitude. Some rocket sites, too. Uniting behind an external enemy is the exception, not the rule. The Bolsheviks came into power in Russia during WWI, and our Revolution might not have lasted very long if not for Napoleon.

    nk (4b512e)

  71. By saying nothing right now, President Obama is speaking volumes. He’s letting Iran land.

    DCSCA, I believe there is a distinction between the president of the freest nation in the world making a public, verbal stand while simultaneously letting a people fight the good fight.

    I’m not sure what the answer is but I do believe that if the President of the United States spoke boldly in the name and promotion of freedom and democracy, no matter how it’s worded, it would not only give strength and encouragement to the protesters but it would also remind that part of the world clearly and unhesitatingly that standing for freedom supersedes all else (my god, this is the President of the United States, for heaven’s sake, not a boy scout!)

    I think Micheal Leeden’s spot-on observations so eloquently spoken, says it best,

    We don’t know who’s going to win. The Iranian people know that they’re on their own; they aren’t going to get any help from us, or the United Nations, or the Europeans. But paradoxically, this lack of support may strengthen their will. There is no cavalry on the horizon. If they are going to prevail, they and their unlikely leaders will have to gut it out by themselves. God be with them.

    Dana (aedf1d)

  72. nk…what does the American Revolution and Napoleon have to do with each other?

    AD - RtR/OS! (956a02)

  73. I’ve updated the post a second time regarding the Instapundit’s support for the Iranian protesters.

    DRJ (180b67)

  74. #74, it has been argued Napolean and France 1) prevented the Brits from making a serious comeback by draining its resources and 2) Scared the Brits Royalty/Merchant class into internal reforms which were more progressive and in turn softened their stance on the USA

    But a very intellectual argument which …. is for history freaks

    HeavenSent (1e97ff)

  75. Nappy…
    There seems to be s time-frame disconnect in tying British actions vis a vis the American Revolution to the actions of Napoleon, who was (prior to the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror) a very minor member of the French military (The Little Corporeal).

    AD - RtR/OS! (956a02)

  76. Mandela, Biko, South Africa. How may years did GOP presidents endure the most foul cries as they practices constructive engagement? The loudest, as I recall, were the community organizers.

    Where are these voices of condemnation today? Why is academia scrambling to rationalize, in precisely the same terms as the GOP administrations did, and not insisting on action?

    I honestly do not know the best approach. I have some theories, but I can;t insist on my thoughts. What I do insist is that the Left’s mendacity deserves only the deepest scorn.

    Open Q to anyone who accused prior US leasers who stood by and did virtually nothing in South Africa but now say professed indifference is the best policy today: Why are Africans better, more worthy of our intervention, than Persians?

    Ed from SFV (dde255)

  77. Support Iran This Way

    1. Print out a bunch of support photos or symbols and have your friends hold them as protest signs. Take a snapshot of your crowd.

    2. Send your crowd photos to Iran or put them on a flickr page for the Iranians to print out. They can use them in their demonstrations. Just seeing the pictures will give them a boost.

    3. Send this idea to your friends.

    Fred (adc8d1)

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