Obama’s Iran Policy to Focus on Human Rights, Not Election

By
Monday, June 15, 2009 at 12:01 am

mahmoud_ahmadinejad

As reports of political violence in Iran intensified after Friday’s fiercely disputed election, the Obama administration insisted that it would not interfere with the struggle for power between regime-backed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the thousands of demonstrators who contend the election was stolen. Administration officials, on and off the record, said that President Obama would offer support for human rights in Iran generally and would not back away from his diplomatic outreach to the longtime U.S. adversary, regardless of the ultimate outcome of the election.

The stance began to attract criticism on Sunday, with some politicians arguing that the United States needed to come out firmly on the side of protesters who have been victimized by regime-backed violence and had their communications with the outside world restricted. But the administration’s position has the support of Iranian human rights groups, which fear the clerical regime will exploit any perception of U.S. interference to slander the opposition as American puppets — a caustic charge in a nation with a deep memory of U.S. interference in its politics.

Illustration by: Matt Mahurin

Illustration by: Matt Mahurin

Since the Iranian government certified the election returns on Saturday, in which Ahmadinejad was said to have won 62 percent of the vote to opposition figure Mir Hossein Moussavi’s 30 percent, the Obama administration released two public statements, neither of which expressed judgment nor condemnation of an election widely believed to have been rigged. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs praised the “vigorous debate and enthusiasm that this election generated, particularly among young Iranians” and pledged that the administration would monitor “reports of irregularities.” On NBC’s “Meet The Press” the next day, Vice President Joe Biden went further, saying there was “some real doubt” about Ahmadinejad’s alleged victory, but added that the international community needed to conduct “analysis” before reaching any conclusions.

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.

If and when Obama speaks about the violence in Iran over the coming days, the official predicted, he will emphasize the need for respecting human rights in Iran and for Iranians to reach their own solution. Potential multilateral efforts at calling attention to electoral improprieties and the resulting violence were said to be on the radar of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice. No administration official mentioned recognizing the legitimacy of Ahmadinejad’s proclaimed victory at this point as a policy option under consideration, in keeping with Biden’s call for further “analysis” about the true election result, despite the fact that the European Union’s presidency, currently held by the Czech Republic, recognized Ahmadinejad as the victor despite noting “irregularities” in the vote.

But in no case will the administration back away from its long-expressed desire to directly engage Iran diplomatically. “Talks with Iran are not a reward for good behavior,” Biden said. The senior administration official noted that regardless of the ultimate outcome of the election, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei — who, in an unusual move, endorsed the election outcome immediately, instead of waiting the customary three days for the vote to become clear — sets foreign policy for Iran, not the president. At the same time, the official said, the administration would not have endless patience for unreciprocated outreach.

That position began to come under criticism on Sunday. The post-election violence “certainly makes such a dialogue much more difficult,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) on CNN, “but frankly I’ve always been skeptical of any kind of dialogue with the hardline leaders of Iran.” Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), issued a statement urging Obama and others to “speak out, loudly and clearly, about what is happening in Iran right now and unambiguously express their solidarity with the brave Iranians who went to the polls in the hope of change and who are now looking to the outside world for strength and support.”

But some Iranian human rights activists backed Obama’s cautious approach. “I think it’s wise for the U.S. government to keep its distance,” said Hadi Ghaemi, a New York-based spokesman for the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, which wants the international community not to legitimize the Iranian regime’s claim that Ahmadinejad won the election. While the Obama administration ought to express support for the Iranian opposition’s safety and for human rights in Iran as the regime clamps down on dissent, any expression of political support for the protesters would only “instigate the cry that the reformers are somehow driven and directed by the United States, whether under [former President George W. Bush] or under Obama, and there’s no reason to give that unfounded allegation” any chance to spread.

Trita Parsi, the founder of the National Iranian American Council who has played a leading role in the American press over the weekend in denouncing Ahmadinejad and defending the protesters, said that Obama was taking care not to subvert the Iranian opposition. “The framing that Ahmadinejad is presenting is one in which essentially the whole [opposition] is a Western media conspiracy,” he said. “If the administration is saying things or doing things before Moussavi and the opposition figures out what the plan is, then that’s a real problem, because then it seems like it’s between Ahmadinejad and the west and not Ahmadinejad and the opposition. So the administration is doing exactly the right thing. They’re not rushing in and they’re not playing favorites. They might prefer the democratic process to be respected, but that’s different than [supporting a] specific faction.”

Parsi took issue with Lieberman’s statement and those of others who have urged the United States to back the opposition. “They’re saying ‘Support Moussavi.’ Well, did you talk to Moussavi to learn if this is helpful? A lot of people seem to have the propensity of knowing what the Iranian people want or what specific people want but [don't] contact them. And in past it’s been detrimental” to Iranian opposition figures, Parsi said. If such American politicians have “not learned from that, it’s sad.”

Ghaemi said that a proper response from the international community ought to come from United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who he said ought to denounce the theft of the election and the resulting regime-instigated violence. “We should not have the U.S. lead,” he said.

That approach might garner support from the Arab world. Hussein Ibish, a senior fellow with the American Task Force on Palestine, said that the Arab states of the Middle East were “largely disappointed by these announced results,” since antipathy to Ahmadinejad’s inflammatory rhetoric runs high in the region and Iran’s Arab neighbors do not relish the prospect of an Iranian regime reckless enough to steal an election. But he said that much like the rest of the world, Arab capitols ought not to interfere with the process. “A perception of external pressure on internal Iranian affairs is bound to be counterproductive and strengthen the hand of the religious far-right,” Ibish said. “Defensive nationalist sentiment has been a hallmark of Ahmadinejad’s appeal to Iranians, as it usually is with demagogues around the world.”

This weekend has seen the worst sustained internal political violence in Tehran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The regime has managed to shut down most forms of communication with the outside world, including most e-mail access, SMS and Facebook. Yet as of Sunday night Iranians are still managing to access Twitter, and the accounts they tweet detail an opposition using the symbols of the 1979 revolution against the regime that governs in its name. An opposition Twitter account called StopAhmadi reported, “sadatabad, tehran. violent street battles between Basij [pro-regime paramilitary forces] and people. cars on fire.” Another Iranian Twitter user, PersianKiwi, announced, “4am and people still on streets and rooftops shouting ‘death to the dictator’.” Change_for_iran, a self-described student, described a skirmish with pro-regime forces: “bastards just attacked us for no reason, I lost count of how much tear gas they launched at us!”

But however much sympathetic Americans might wish the Obama administration to express more forthright support for the embattled protesters, analysts believe that doing so would ultimately set back their struggle. It was important, Parsi said, for any non-Iranian organization wishing to show solidarity with the opposition to ensure that “anything they do is two steps behind the opposition and not two steps ahead.” The current struggle, he said, is “not a battle in the slightest to be fought by any in the international community or any entity. Iranians have tremendous pride in doing this themselves.”

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Comments

169 Comments

SF NM
Comment posted June 14, 2009 @ 9:36 pm

Excellent reporting Spencer. Thank you.


Davonne
Comment posted June 14, 2009 @ 10:59 pm

Indeed, we must respect the pride of the Iranian people. They worked hard for this election and it was taken away from them. The officials of their government spat in their faces and disgraced their honor. Now it's up to them to get it back by the sweat off their skin, the tears from their eyes and the blood from which is shed. Pride is more important to a warrior, and this is a true demonstration of warriors who fight for hope and change.

This election meant so much more to them. It was finally an opportunity for them to prove to the rest of the world that they're Not Terrorists, and that they have true spirit and dignity within their country. Mousavi was a glimmer of that change and hope for them. They want to show us all that there IS much decency in the Iranian public.

I personally tip my hat in their persistence and strong will. And I'm rooting for them.


halfspin
Comment posted June 14, 2009 @ 11:34 pm

Great article. One question: do you know what the sentiment is among the actual protesters in Iran (or at least those with net access) regarding the Obama administration's stance?


Jezreel
Comment posted June 15, 2009 @ 12:56 am

Thank you Mr. Ackerman for your excellent journalistic work.


The Greenroom » Forum Archive » Iranians Detonate Reality Bomb
Pingback posted June 15, 2009 @ 2:20 am

[...] 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 [...]


What’s Going On In Iran? « Philosophy On The Mesa
Pingback posted June 15, 2009 @ 3:29 am

[...] for American policy toward these developments, Spencer Ackerman has a run down: …the Obama administration insisted that it would not interfere with the struggle [...]


Spencer Ackerman
Comment posted June 15, 2009 @ 5:45 am

Great question. I wish I could say for certain that I did. All I can say is that it's notable that on the Twitter #iranelection hashtag, you're not seeing Iranians asking the U.S. or the international community for concrete assistance. Over at NIAC's informative blog, there's a post up — at the risk of preempting a post of mine — from an Iranian protester calling for the U.S. not to recognize the results of the election. I'll amend this statement as additional evidence accumulates.


Moe Lane » “Now watch this drive.”
Pingback posted June 15, 2009 @ 8:44 am

[...] he apparently wasn’t taking comments, either.  That being said, the administration is firmly on track to consider a plan to focus on a response to Iran’s reported human rights violations, which [...]


“Now watch this drive.” - Moe_Lane’s blog - RedState
Pingback posted June 15, 2009 @ 8:45 am

[...] he apparently wasn’t taking comments, either.  That being said, the administration is firmly on track to consider a plan to focus on a response to Iran’s reported human rights violations, which [...]


“Now watch this drive.” | WTF?! Obama
Pingback posted June 15, 2009 @ 10:22 am

[...] he apparently wasn’t taking comments, either.  That being said, the administration is firmly on track to consider a plan to focus on a response to Iran’s reported human rights violations, which [...]


Iranian students
Comment posted June 15, 2009 @ 9:47 am

We are in Iran (from university of Guilan- Rasht)
and we are watching them killing people esp. young students of universitis. All of our classmates and friends have been arrested and beaten up violently (by Basij forces)
Please announce this violence to the world.
Please support human rights. We are waiting for a help.


Jules Crittenden » Partner For Peace Elected!
Pingback posted June 15, 2009 @ 10:50 am

[...] Washington Independent: Obama admin to focus on human rights, ignore human rights in Iran. OK, that’s not exactly how WI put it, but that’s what I’m getting from it. [...]


Howie Feltersnatch
Comment posted June 15, 2009 @ 10:54 am

Obama is worried because US support for the Iranian opposition would de-legitimize them in his – and of course Michelle's – eyes. The people in the streets of Tehran are asking for Obama's help. To bad we elected a Franz Fanon disciple last November.


On the streets in Iran
Pingback posted June 15, 2009 @ 12:56 pm

[...] they’re still proceeding with caution, with a line that Spencer Ackerman reports is likely to focus on "human rights," rather than on election results. Copyright © [...]


…experience life with me?
Pingback posted June 15, 2009 @ 2:17 pm

[...] Now, Iran had been one of it’s most delicate and troublesome foreign policy issue for the US for a very long time so what’s the US stance on this whole situation in Iran, more specifically, what is the Obama camp thinking of doing right now?  Here’s an interesting take on the subject by The Washington Independent. [...]


Condensed Thoughts on Iran « Repartay
Pingback posted June 15, 2009 @ 2:45 pm

[...] current conversation about Iran, other than basically endorsing this view espoused by Hadi Ghaemi (via Spencer Ackerman) of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. But some Iranian human rights activists [...]


According to an actual Iranian in Iran, the administration’s silence helps the cause. « The Edge of the American West
Pingback posted June 15, 2009 @ 3:32 pm

[...] the cautiousness of Obama administration’s statements, his brother confirmed one aspect of Spencer Ackerman’s account of the administration’s behavior, saying that government forces are already accusing protesters of collaborating with the U.S., and [...]


A Green Revolution? « Repartay
Pingback posted June 15, 2009 @ 3:39 pm

[...] and the media’s subsequent coverage have been equally compelling. I’d also highly suggest Spencer Ackerman’s great piece on Obama’s role (or lack thereof) in the matter. More on that later. Possibly related posts: [...]


Kathy
Comment posted June 15, 2009 @ 2:59 pm

I voted for Obama. I feel I made a serious mistake along with many others. We need to lay low, make no changes, hold our breath for the next 3.5 years and vote him out of office as quickly as possible. His health care and disregard for the doctors is unbelievable. Not many jobs require 10 or more years of education. The doctors deserve every dime and more that they “earn” in caring for their patients. If every doctor in America decided to give up the fight and go into some other business who would care for the people then? ! I can understand why the doctors would be tired of being dictated to by big insurance and now the president who is against the doctors and simply wants them to earn less money after paying for 10 years or more of education. Let's vote Obama out. Also, he plans to continue to reach out to Iran's president after hundreds of thousands of “voters” who voted for the other party have demonstrated that the election was crooked. What does Obama want? Is he slowly leading us astray?


Bruce L. Kapito
Comment posted June 15, 2009 @ 3:14 pm

I think Obama like his predecessor Jimmy Carter can't or won't look at the real reason he was elected. It was not for his deceitful campaign except for ACORN rigging the voter roles but three facts 1) an Anti-Bush vote, 2) McCain campaign, and 3) a media tha decided that by electing him America would be clensed of its racial past. But like Carter, he took his win as a true mandate to move this country to the far left. Contrary to MoveOn.Org, this country was and is still acenter right country.

If you're unhappy with Obama, give him a Republican Congress.


Bill B
Comment posted June 15, 2009 @ 3:21 pm

Sorry Kathy, but doctors make way too much money in the US, compared to all the other countries.

No wonder the US has one of the worst health care systems of all the industrialized nations. Instead of helping patients, a lot of doctors are focusing of increasing their revenues.


Maz
Comment posted June 15, 2009 @ 3:55 pm

The idea that Obama is intelligent enough to devise a strategic response by not commenting
on the fraud in fascist Iran is ridiculous. Trita Parsi, like Obama, is an opportunist who
cares only about his resume enhancement. He would just as easily defend Ahmadinejad
if it beneffited him. Obama's lack of comment has nothing to do with strategy, other
than Obama showing know his Islamic roots as well as his propensity for fence sitting.
Obama and Clinton make no comment because they are cowards, not out of some
well-thought out strategic policy. Some Iranians who have obtained faculty positions
and think tank associateships are playing a double game; they are more cautios in
their comments either because they have ties back home they don't want to disrupt
or they are hedging their bets so that, in case Ahmadinejad prevails, they can say
“See, I was right to be cautious…”. Unfortunatelty, many of these Iranian 'experts'
are only interested in their self advancement from the comfort of the United States
(where they are free to play the double game of being in exile while remaining
a psuedo-nationalist). Student protestors in Tehran, on the other hand, at least
have the courage to risk their lives to go out on the street and be heard. Don't listen
to the Iranian academics and 'policy experts' in the US; they have another agenda.
Trust the instincts of the Iranian students and intellectuals who remained in Iran
to fight the good battle and not leave the country when the going got too tough
(I am not criticizing the overall Iranian-American community, only the policy wonks
who care about being on TV and enhancing their resumes more than they give
a damn about Iran).


Maz
Comment posted June 15, 2009 @ 3:56 pm

The idea that Obama is intelligent enough to devise a strategic response by not commenting
on the fraud in fascist Iran is ridiculous. Trita Parsi, like Obama, is an opportunist who
cares only about his resume enhancement. He would just as easily defend Ahmadinejad
if it benefited him. Obama's lack of comment has nothing to do with strategy, other
than Obama showing now his Islamic roots as well as his propensity for fence sitting.
Obama and Clinton make no comment because they are cowards, not out of some
well-thought out strategic policy. Some Iranians who have obtained faculty positions
and think tank associateships are playing a double game; they are more cautios in
their comments either because they have ties back home they don't want to disrupt
or they are hedging their bets so that, in case Ahmadinejad prevails, they can say
“See, I was right to be cautious…”. Unfortunatelty, many of these Iranian 'experts'
are only interested in their self advancement from the comfort of the United States
(where they are free to play the double game of being in exile while remaining
a psuedo-nationalist). Student protestors in Tehran, on the other hand, at least
have the courage to risk their lives to go out on the street and be heard. Don't listen
to the Iranian academics and 'policy experts' in the US; they have another agenda.
Trust the instincts of the Iranian students and intellectuals who remained in Iran
to fight the good battle and not leave the country when the going got too tough
(I am not criticizing the overall Iranian-American community, only the policy wonks
who care about being on TV and enhancing their resumes more than they give
a damn about Iran).


Maz
Comment posted June 15, 2009 @ 3:58 pm

The idea that Obama is intelligent enough to devise a strategic response by not commenting
on the fraud in fascist Iran is ridiculous. Trita Parsi, like Obama, is an opportunist who
cares only about his resume enhancement. He would just as easily defend Ahmadinejad
if it benefited him. Obama's lack of comment has nothing to do with strategy, other
than Obama showing now his Islamic roots as well as his propensity for fence sitting.
Obama and Clinton make no comment because they are cowards, not out of some
well-thought out strategic policy. Some Iranians who have obtained faculty positions
and think tank associateships are playing a double game; they are more cautious in
their comments either because they have ties back home they don't want to disrupt
or they are hedging their bets so that, in case Ahmadinejad prevails, they can say
“See, I was right to be cautious…”. Unfortunatelty, many of these Iranian 'experts'
are only interested in their self advancement from the comfort of the United States
(where they are free to play the double game of being in exile while remaining
a pseudo-nationalist). Student protestors in Tehran, on the other hand, at least
have the courage to risk their lives to go out on the street and be heard. Don't listen
to the Iranian academics and 'policy experts' in the US; they have another agenda.
Trust the instincts of the Iranian students and intellectuals who remained in Iran
to fight the good battle and not leave the country when the going got too tough
(I am not criticizing the overall Iranian-American community, only the policy wonks
who care about being on TV and enhancing their resumes more than they give
a damn about Iran).


Maz
Comment posted June 15, 2009 @ 4:01 pm

Hussein Ibish is a front-man for Bashar al-Assad and hardly a note of objectivity.


What does the Iranian election mean for US policy? « Groundswell Blog, from Peace Action West
Pingback posted June 15, 2009 @ 5:08 pm

[...] Ghaemi, spokesperson for the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran agrees, stating, “I think it’s wise for the U.S. government to keep its distance,” and noting that a [...]


Philip
Comment posted June 15, 2009 @ 4:09 pm

Do you Americans remember the 2000 elections Bush won? Did you expect the rest of the world not to recognize Bush. You guys are such hypocrites.


lou
Comment posted June 15, 2009 @ 5:06 pm

Accorn Fraudman what's to give advise


lou
Comment posted June 15, 2009 @ 5:08 pm

Kathy, Michelle Obama made $350,00 for an affrimitive action job at the hopital I believe that income is much higher than most Doctors


Michael C. McHugh
Comment posted June 15, 2009 @ 5:12 pm

If there is going to be a revolution in Iran, then it's up to the Iranians to do it. We should not intervene directly. I certainly hope the regime will be overthrown, which would be better for the whole world. If the Iranian ask us, we should try to help them if we can, but i'd wait and see what they want us to do.


Howie Feltersnatch
Comment posted June 15, 2009 @ 5:54 pm

Obama is worried because US support for the Iranian opposition would de-legitimize them in his – and of course Michelle's – eyes. The people in the streets of Tehran are asking for Obama's help. To bad we elected a Franz Fanon disciple last November.


Kathy
Comment posted June 15, 2009 @ 9:59 pm

I voted for Obama. I feel I made a serious mistake along with many others. We need to lay low, make no changes, hold our breath for the next 3.5 years and vote him out of office as quickly as possible. His health care and disregard for the doctors is unbelievable. Not many jobs require 10 or more years of education. The doctors deserve every dime and more that they “earn” in caring for their patients. If every doctor in America decided to give up the fight and go into some other business who would care for the people then? ! I can understand why the doctors would be tired of being dictated to by big insurance and now the president who is against the doctors and simply wants them to earn less money after paying for 10 years or more of education. Let's vote Obama out. Also, he plans to continue to reach out to Iran's president after hundreds of thousands of “voters” who voted for the other party have demonstrated that the election was crooked. What does Obama want? Is he slowly leading us astray?


Bruce L. Kapito
Comment posted June 15, 2009 @ 10:14 pm

I think Obama like his predecessor Jimmy Carter can't or won't look at the real reason he was elected. It was not for his deceitful campaign except for ACORN rigging the voter roles but three facts 1) an Anti-Bush vote, 2) McCain campaign, and 3) a media tha decided that by electing him America would be clensed of its racial past. But like Carter, he took his win as a true mandate to move this country to the far left. Contrary to MoveOn.Org, this country was and is still acenter right country.

If you're unhappy with Obama, give him a Republican Congress.


Bill B
Comment posted June 15, 2009 @ 10:21 pm

Sorry Kathy, but doctors make way too much money in the US, compared to all the other countries.

No wonder the US has one of the worst health care systems of all the industrialized nations. Instead of helping patients, a lot of doctors are focusing of increasing their revenues.


Maz
Comment posted June 15, 2009 @ 10:55 pm

The idea that Obama is intelligent enough to devise a strategic response by not commenting
on the fraud in fascist Iran is ridiculous. Trita Parsi, like Obama, is an opportunist who
cares only about his resume enhancement. He would just as easily defend Ahmadinejad
if it beneffited him. Obama's lack of comment has nothing to do with strategy, other
than Obama showing know his Islamic roots as well as his propensity for fence sitting.
Obama and Clinton make no comment because they are cowards, not out of some
well-thought out strategic policy. Some Iranians who have obtained faculty positions
and think tank associateships are playing a double game; they are more cautios in
their comments either because they have ties back home they don't want to disrupt
or they are hedging their bets so that, in case Ahmadinejad prevails, they can say
“See, I was right to be cautious…”. Unfortunatelty, many of these Iranian 'experts'
are only interested in their self advancement from the comfort of the United States
(where they are free to play the double game of being in exile while remaining
a psuedo-nationalist). Student protestors in Tehran, on the other hand, at least
have the courage to risk their lives to go out on the street and be heard. Don't listen
to the Iranian academics and 'policy experts' in the US; they have another agenda.
Trust the instincts of the Iranian students and intellectuals who remained in Iran
to fight the good battle and not leave the country when the going got too tough
(I am not criticizing the overall Iranian-American community, only the policy wonks
who care about being on TV and enhancing their resumes more than they give
a damn about Iran).


Maz
Comment posted June 15, 2009 @ 10:56 pm

The idea that Obama is intelligent enough to devise a strategic response by not commenting
on the fraud in fascist Iran is ridiculous. Trita Parsi, like Obama, is an opportunist who
cares only about his resume enhancement. He would just as easily defend Ahmadinejad
if it benefited him. Obama's lack of comment has nothing to do with strategy, other
than Obama showing now his Islamic roots as well as his propensity for fence sitting.
Obama and Clinton make no comment because they are cowards, not out of some
well-thought out strategic policy. Some Iranians who have obtained faculty positions
and think tank associateships are playing a double game; they are more cautios in
their comments either because they have ties back home they don't want to disrupt
or they are hedging their bets so that, in case Ahmadinejad prevails, they can say
“See, I was right to be cautious…”. Unfortunatelty, many of these Iranian 'experts'
are only interested in their self advancement from the comfort of the United States
(where they are free to play the double game of being in exile while remaining
a psuedo-nationalist). Student protestors in Tehran, on the other hand, at least
have the courage to risk their lives to go out on the street and be heard. Don't listen
to the Iranian academics and 'policy experts' in the US; they have another agenda.
Trust the instincts of the Iranian students and intellectuals who remained in Iran
to fight the good battle and not leave the country when the going got too tough
(I am not criticizing the overall Iranian-American community, only the policy wonks
who care about being on TV and enhancing their resumes more than they give
a damn about Iran).


Maz
Comment posted June 15, 2009 @ 10:58 pm

The idea that Obama is intelligent enough to devise a strategic response by not commenting
on the fraud in fascist Iran is ridiculous. Trita Parsi, like Obama, is an opportunist who
cares only about his resume enhancement. He would just as easily defend Ahmadinejad
if it benefited him. Obama's lack of comment has nothing to do with strategy, other
than Obama showing now his Islamic roots as well as his propensity for fence sitting.
Obama and Clinton make no comment because they are cowards, not out of some
well-thought out strategic policy. Some Iranians who have obtained faculty positions
and think tank associateships are playing a double game; they are more cautious in
their comments either because they have ties back home they don't want to disrupt
or they are hedging their bets so that, in case Ahmadinejad prevails, they can say
“See, I was right to be cautious…”. Unfortunatelty, many of these Iranian 'experts'
are only interested in their self advancement from the comfort of the United States
(where they are free to play the double game of being in exile while remaining
a pseudo-nationalist). Student protestors in Tehran, on the other hand, at least
have the courage to risk their lives to go out on the street and be heard. Don't listen
to the Iranian academics and 'policy experts' in the US; they have another agenda.
Trust the instincts of the Iranian students and intellectuals who remained in Iran
to fight the good battle and not leave the country when the going got too tough
(I am not criticizing the overall Iranian-American community, only the policy wonks
who care about being on TV and enhancing their resumes more than they give
a damn about Iran).


Maz
Comment posted June 15, 2009 @ 11:01 pm

Hussein Ibish is a front-man for Bashar al-Assad and hardly a note of objectivity.


Philip
Comment posted June 15, 2009 @ 11:09 pm

Do you Americans remember the 2000 elections Bush won? Did you expect the rest of the world not to recognize Bush. You guys are such hypocrites.


lou
Comment posted June 16, 2009 @ 12:06 am

Accorn Fraudman what's to give advise


lou
Comment posted June 16, 2009 @ 12:08 am

Kathy, Michelle Obama made $350,00 for an affrimitive action job at the hopital I believe that income is much higher than most Doctors


Francesco Costa » Il nodo
Pingback posted June 16, 2009 @ 8:51 am

[...] nodo Per quel che ho appreso dal Niac e da Twitter e dalle conversazioni con diversi attivisti per i diritti umani iraniani, i manifestanti vogliono che l’amministrazione Obama non riconosca la vittoria di [...]


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Pingback posted June 16, 2009 @ 9:39 am

[...] but politically necessary. Over the weekend, Trita Parsi of the National Iranian American Council told TWI that an Obama statement might allow Iran’s leaders to portray the unrest as a Western conspiracy. [...]


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Pingback posted June 17, 2009 @ 6:25 am

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Why Obama is Taking the Right Path Towards Iran « Leaning to the Left
Pingback posted June 18, 2009 @ 3:08 pm

[...] Many human rights groups agree with the administration’s stance, and it is not hard to see how it would harm those that support Moussavi if they were to be seen as having the backing of the United States.  America is not the most popular country in Iran, or that part of the world for that matter, and if the U.S. were to take the side of the protester’s it would give Ahmadinejad an instant talking point.  The fact that some conservatives seem to be oblivious to this policy reveals a deep and troublesome misunderstanding of the way that the world works.  Conservatives often accuse liberals of living some fantasy world when it comes to foreign policy. but closer examination reveals that conservatives have some fantasies of their own. [...]


Joseph
Comment posted June 19, 2009 @ 2:34 am

There is a shocking amount of promotion of the idea that one can only achieve anything in this world by brute force in these comments. Maz, I'm afraid your angry hostility toward Obama falls into the category of the kind of unimaginative and cowardly thinking that is afraid in a deep way of using intelligence and reason to solve problems. No one in the US government approves of the Iranian regime, and no one is coddling or appeasing anyone over there: the problem is no matter how much we might get a rise out of doing so, ordering an authoritarian regime to obey us doesn't work. Communism in Europe fell apart almost by surprise, because the people living in the oppressed countries stood up for themselves. If we don't let that happen here, we'll just perpetuate the tyranny. It sounds like some anti-Obama commenters might have been big fans of the Bush administration's “we hate you” rhetoric… they certainly made sure to perform for you and for me and for everyone, so that no one would doubt that they hate the Iranian regime, but that's not a foreign policy, it's adolescent posturing. And the result was, they helped to bring Ahmedinejad to power, by threatening and hardening an already hardline regime. The result of Bush's boyish (and impotent) threats was that the clerics banned the reformists from competing and essentially handed the election to Ahmedinejad. If we follow the logic of those among us who are all about swearing obscenities in the face of the ugliness of the world's tyrants, instead of actually using our heads, we will do what Bush did, and promote the spread of radical fundamentalism and the rise of thugs like Ahmedinejad.


Joseph
Comment posted June 19, 2009 @ 2:52 am

Sorry Bruce. The country is not a “center-right” country. It's a centrist country that has long and storied traditions of principled conservatism and principled liberalism. 2nd, MoveOn.org is not a “far left” group; it's a progressive organizing team. They get people in touch with each other, they communicate, they help people pressure Congress, and their agenda is not pro-Republican. That doesn't make them suspicious “far left” conspirators; it just means they do not favor voting for Republicans or the Republican party platform.

That said, MoveOn is much more left-leaning than Obama. The ONLY reasons Obama was listed by ONE conservative political group as “the most liberal senator” was because of his opposition to the Iraq war and his support for abortion rights. Despite what some on the far right would like everyone to think: neither of those is a “far left” position; they are both center-left mainstream positions. And neither is ideological in nature; they are both about the rule of law and constraints on executive power.

If you paid attention to the news, you would find that every week there is another issue where committed liberal organizations differ with Pres. Obama, because he is too centrist, even right-of-center on some issues of public policy. He won 17 million more votes than Bush won in 2000 not because McCain's campaign was dismally bad, but because that many people wanted Obama to govern, and because he actually motivated people to get out and vote.

Your ACORN accusation discredits your entire argument. The big secret about ACORN, the thing that is kept all-too-quiet when the media are obsessing about whether O'Reilly's deranged ranting is based in fact or not, is that the US attorney's fired illegally, for not engaging in political prosecutions, had been asked to look into “voter fraud”. They found that where individuals working as independent contractors for ACORN had falsified voter-registration forms, they had done so 1) without ACORN's permission (ACORN reported them to federal authorities in every case) and 2) in order to steal from ACORN by not doing the work of getting legitimate voter registrations.

The only reason you ever hear about ACORN from the “far right” is because the people at the top of the pseudo-conservative movement were caught, in what is still an ongoing criminal investigation, trying to falsify charges against innocent people, with the explicit purpose of preventing real citizens from being registered to vote. A federal judge found that there was ZERO evidence of any “voter fraud” across the US and that the handful of isolated cases where individuals had falsified records were cases of individual misconduct or cutting corners.

Raising the ACORN issue as you did, demonstrates your bias and your proclivity for consuming information from grossly inadequate sources.


Joseph
Comment posted June 19, 2009 @ 3:05 am

Kathy: 1) The lobbyists behind filling your head with the lie that Obama is trying to undermine doctors' salaries work for the insurance companies. They are the ones who might suffer reduced profits if you pay less for your healthcare. The doctors will be compensated as they are now.

2) Would you pay the full 100% price of your medical expenses? Or does someone pay it for you? An employer? A relative's employer? I know people who have suffered for years and/or died, because insurance-company paper-pushers wouldn't let them be treated; would you like to pay for their treatment in order to save the insurance companies' profit-margins? or would you prefer they die? or would you prefer a solution where they pay their own way, because it's actually affordable to buy insurance?

3) If there is an affordable option in the marketplace, and everyone is covered, the efficiencies of the marketplace would dictate that: quality of care must increase (because the insurers who deliberately lower it by denying treatment or underpaying doctors to turn a profit will see their customers flee in droves), and as quality of care increases, doctors' costs (read: malpractice insurance) will come down, raising their profits.

4) Obama wants results: we can't save the tens of thousands dying from flawed or non-existent health insurance every year by letting doctors and insurers fight it out; the insurers will continue to rob the doctors blind, reducing the amount of time they can spend with each patient, reducing the quality of care, driving up the number of medical errors, and thus gaining for themselves a windfall in the form of malpractice premiums…

And we can't help the Iranian opposition movement to empower average Iranians if we make it look like they're our puppet. If the US government were run by fascist fundamentalists who think Iran is “Satan”, would you go out in the streets to risk your life in support of a candidate Ahmedinejad said was “his guy” in Washington? Or would you think: oh no, it's hopeless, this guy's just a puppet of the foreigners, and the regime is going to attack us with tanks anyway, might as well stay home?

Think a little bit about this; Obama is not president of Iran, and he is not technically president of the world. He can't just order people around; if we want Iran to move in the direction we favor, we have to be smarter than Bush, Cheney, Tenet and Rice; we actually have to think about what works and not just go shooting our mouths off. If Obama came out and said “The election was a sham! The government are Islamofascists and must be brought down! The American policy is regime change!” in the midst of this crisis, the immediate result would be the blood of innocent pro-democracy demonstrators running in the streets of Tehran.

So far, the opposition has only gained in force, because “soft power” actually works; they know that they are rallying in the spirit of Obama's democratic principles; they know that he is not a friend of Ahmedinejad. It's unthinking fools over here who don't seem to get that.


Joseph
Comment posted June 19, 2009 @ 3:12 am

Really? Are people really this dense? Obama CANNOT say what it is he wants Iran to do or the Iranian opposition to do, because the democratic choices are obvious to everyone in the world. Once he says them, if they make any moves in that direction, the credibility of the opposition will be comprehensively undermined within Iran. Those people marching don't get their power from Washington; they get it from the basic ideals of democracy, which are universal. Obama demanding that the opposition leader be seated as president will provoke a brutal authoritarian regime to make war on its own people; that is not what you or I or any reasonable person wants.

All this attacking Obama for not being loudmouthed enough about principles he has espoused virtually every day in public speeches for the last 2 and a half years is just anti-Obama opportunism, an attempt to use fear-mongering and falsification to smear Obama with the crimes of a regime that is his enemy as much as it is yours. It is dishonest, and counterproductive, and all those who are trying to distort this into a story where the blood of Iranians is less important than your reflexive contempt for a principled president, should be ashamed of what you are doing.


rosha
Comment posted June 20, 2009 @ 6:32 pm

hi
I'm roshanak from Iran. you don't know what happened here and you don't have any imagination about what's going on here. i wish that i could talk with Mr. Obama.
I just can come to this website cuz the others are filter, to tell the people all around the world to help us, support us, and if someone can connect with M.r Obama at first i wanna tell him that we like him a lot, then i want him to support us against violation.
they exactly steal our vote. they kills lots of people and arrest the others.
each night we go to the roof and say down with Dictator and something like that.
they don't believe us. they wanna kill us until the last person who is a fan of Mousavi.
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SF EXAMINER: Human rights policies in relations with Iran and Islamic countries « NEWS FROM THE REAL WORLD
Pingback posted June 21, 2009 @ 1:29 pm

[...] a recent article in the Washington Independent, Spencer Ackerman reports that Obama’s Iran policy will focus on human rights, not on the election. The human [...]


Will calls right-wing attacks on Obama’s Iran response ‘foolish criticism.’ | Dailycensored.com
Pingback posted June 21, 2009 @ 2:00 pm

[...] doing enough to intervene on the side of those protesting. Their criticism comes despite numerous expert opinions — even from Iranian human rights activists — that the U.S. should not meddle in the [...]


#Iranelection, #CNNfail, #Weargreen | Jonathan Movroydis
Pingback posted June 22, 2009 @ 1:53 am

[...] on his victory. The E.U., and the U.N. have been spoken up, but the White House has been deafeningly silent. President Barack Obama’s spokesperson, Robert Gibbs said that the White House was “heartened [...]


peyman
Comment posted June 22, 2009 @ 1:25 pm

Free the Iranian people from these cruel, non-human, nasty, filty Ayatollas. USA and England helped to bring these ayatollas to power in 1979 (It was all about the OIL). It’s all about the money as usual! Obama here is your chance to set things right for the Iranian people just like Bush did for the Irakian people by elimanting Saddam Hussein (Note that USA helped to bring him to the power). Bush would not hesitate for one second!


DeltaBoseEinstein
Comment posted June 29, 2009 @ 3:03 am

I am not an American citizen but coming with a Persian background as a researcher active in science, I humbly like to give my services to those in need for fighting terrorism.
So please find the following letter relevant to those people suffering under tyranny in Iran, I as a concerned person asking on their behalf:
We hereby declare that we are in favor of strong words upon the current crisis in Iran against the very-illegitimate regime of I. R. Iran.
We must add and question that, those who kill the innocent based on strong media images and confirmed reports, how must they be judged and treated by the global community? …
Thinking about just the nuclear issue is not the remedy for global peace announced by the democrats and the respectable US president, B. H. Obama…
What is the current US position on Iran?… The current US policy is too soft indeed… To be marginally silent at this very moment not aiding people seeking for democracy, calling for peace in Iran, just for the sake of US national interest, is truly illogical!…
This is a rightful claim from the Human Rights constitution which originally came from the first Persian King “Cyrus the Great”, in form of a cylinder held at UN headquarters, Ref. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyrus_Cylinder
One must separate the peaceful Iranian community from the Taliban-i Type Dictators i.e. the totalitarian regime of Tehran employing monsters from other middle eastern countries, Chechnya with an unequivocal support from former communist states to beat and kill defenseless people in Iran: “the innocent crying for peace and basic human rights, defying the regime itself”… How does President Obama respects the sovereignty of I. R. Regime boarders whilst this regime considers Israel to be wiped off the map and triggers events in Iraq to rule Middle East based on barbaric fanaticism…!?
We must prevent terrorism and those unfolded events that are being spread across the Middle East region, mostly fueled and advocated by the Ayatollahs in Tehran including the Supreme Leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei himself (current events occurring in Iraq).
We must not let the cry for democracy rest in Iran. The momentum must continue its course and “US must represent democracy and not just follow it” until the corrupt fanatics are brought into justice. Killing an innocent defenseless human is simply a crime against humanity.
One last thing, does the world want to be conquered by the insane elements of the regime integrated within the I. R. Fanatic regime's body (they always want to implement this according to their Friday prayers' speeches since the last 30 years of their reign)?


Obama Hypocrite on Honduras - big surprise! | Orange Juice! Politics For The Rest Of Us.
Pingback posted June 29, 2009 @ 5:38 pm

[...] Obama to focus on Human Rights, not election. Why is Obama silent on Iran? Obama silent as huge election protests continue [...]


Pajamas Media » Obama: The Anti-Reagan
Pingback posted July 13, 2009 @ 2:24 pm

[...] Eventually, with a weakness only John Kerry could love, Obama gathered the courage to say he supported “human rights in Iran [...]


Patterico’s Pontifications » Iranians Detonate Reality Bomb
Pingback posted July 22, 2009 @ 3:37 am

[...] 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 [...]


sampatriot
Comment posted July 29, 2009 @ 9:17 pm

NO we need to mind our own business and focus on what we can fix in this country. We are hated all over the world because of our involvement in other countries, we have been bombing other countries for years and then paying to build it back up, we buy weapons for opposing countries. Not one taxpayer dollar should be going to other countries for any reason until we can do something to fix our own country


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man
Comment posted September 4, 2009 @ 4:43 pm

its about time , our place is not in east we have enough problems home.


Will calls right-wing attacks on Obama’s Iran response ‘foolish criticism.’ | No Bull. news service.
Pingback posted November 19, 2009 @ 5:10 pm

[...] doing enough to intervene on the side of those protesting. Their criticism comes despite numerous expert opinions — even from Iranian human rights activists — that the U.S. should not meddle in the [...]


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Pingback posted June 4, 2010 @ 3:43 am

[...] Now, Iran had been one of it’s most delicate and troublesome foreign policy issue for the US for a very long time so what’s the US stance on this whole situation in Iran, more specifically, what is the Obama camp thinking of doing right now?  Here’s an interesting take on the subject by The Washington Independent. [...]


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Sharia Law – coming to an American Court near you | The David Madeira Show
Pingback posted August 17, 2010 @ 1:50 pm

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Pingback posted December 11, 2010 @ 4:54 am

[...] caution is wise. As Trita Parsi, the founder of the National Iranian American Council told the Washington Independent, “The framing that Ahmadinejad is presenting is one in which essentially the whole [...]


John
Comment posted March 22, 2011 @ 6:07 pm

And though I’ll concede that the demographic composition of the demonstrators likely differs from past movements in ways that complicate the lessons of non-intrusion, Trita Parsi’s advice to let the demonstrators lead still holds. In addition to Spencer’s point – that the U.S. should want to avoid being an albatross around the neck of a successful opposition – it can’t be emphasized enough how little we know about the opposition in its current form. Yes, there have been calls for greater U.S. involvement. But those calls have been met with pleas just as persuasive for the U.S. to stay out. For all the signs printed in English, there have also hundreds, maybe thousands, of nightly chants shrouded in the spirit of 1979. Joscelyn’s argument focuses entirely on whether the U.S. could wind up empowering the regime. Yet that is only one of many possible unintended consequences U.S. interference could bring. Given how little we know that the demonstrators and what motivates them, there are almost definitely others.
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