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Tuesday, April 23

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cklaus / June 21, 2009 10:19 PM

Not much different than what happened in FL in 2000. I guess there's just currently a dearth of other news.

X / June 21, 2009 10:45 PM

Really, there was murder and violent clashes in the streets of Florida in 2000?

vise77 / June 22, 2009 8:43 AM

Yeah, didn't you know that thugs on motorbikes went around beating and shooting anti-government protesters in Florida in 2000? Or that our clerical supreme leader in the USA warned protesters that they could face bloodshed if they didn't just shut up and return home? People, learn to think.

Anyway, I am somewhat hopeful that the good people in Iran will manage to moderate the government through these protests. I expect far more bloodshed, unfortunately, and I remain skeptical that the new boss would be that much different, or significantly more moderate, than the old boss--or that the clerical leadership will easily surrender control of the military and press.

I see this more as a Tianammen situation--no real revolution, but some fear struck into the government, which then moderates somewhat--than something that approaches Central and Eastern Europe in 198, where the entire political systems were changed.

I think Obama has been pretty wise so far in his statements about the Iranian crises. Coming out explicitly for one side could really bite us in the butt within a few weeks or months.

Chachi / June 22, 2009 9:37 AM

While Cklaus could have been a little more analytical in his/her comparison, a valid point is raised: Why didn't we protest this strongly in 2000? Or at all, really?

vise77 / June 22, 2009 9:51 AM

Maybe because for all our faults in our electoral system--and there are many--we do have a system that for one reason or another most citizens regard as democratic.

And though one can argue that the two-party system exercises too much control over whom we can vote for, we don't have an unelected council of clerics hand-picking all candidates (we have primaries in most cases); nor make it impossible for other candidates to run outside the two-party system (remember, difficult does not equal impossible).

Those are just some reasons.

flange / June 22, 2009 11:01 AM

more to the point, what it recalls is the sixties here and the eighties in china.

and we learn from those lessons that "revolution" is easily quashed and quickly amounts to nothing.

Anon / June 22, 2009 12:31 PM

Set Twitter to Tehran & time to GMT +3.30. Iranian "security" forces r searching for bloggers exposing abuses. Help w/log jam!

Good Luck / June 22, 2009 12:51 PM

Looking at the previous posts and tepid response by your president, have progressives ever had less interest in promoting freedom in the world than right now?

Contrary to what the American public is fed by various media, the Iranian government is viewed by the larger muslim world as un-Islamic and does not enjoy true religous legitamacy within the ccountry itself. This is even more so in the view of the shiite clergy, which consititutes the faith of the majority of Iranians. That is why the most respected Shiite clerics reside outside of Iran, i.e. Sistani in Iraq.

The Iranian government set up a hierarchy where the "Supreme Leader" held unilateral control of interpretation of God's will. This contrasts with the pre-Khomenei Iranian culture that viewed interpretation to be allowed by the believers themselves. Throw in the marxist and fascist elements of Khomeneism to the mix and you have a system of government that the people of Iran view as corrupt and incompatible with the teachings of their faith. This isn't simply about an election.

The ramifications could be truely transformational. If you remove the financiers of both Hezbollah and Hamas, then those organizations have less resources to "organize and educate communities" and fund violent operations. Think that would have beneficial effects on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? (the conflict that Obama himself says is the key to improving Muslim and Western relations!)

It is odd to me how disinterested/disoriented the president seems about the Iranian situation. On one hand, he does not want to be seen as meddling, even though the US has already been branded as such by the regime. On the other hand, he changed his tune after both houses of congress issued statements condemning the Iranian government.

So we have a leader who is afraid to call out a government whose policy is to hang homosexuals in public, fund terrorist groups abroad (including terrorism against the US) and silence dissent using brute force and outright murder. All this in order to remain in the good graces of an illegitimate government so that he has chance for a charm offensive as naive as Carter's before him.

vise77 / June 22, 2009 1:16 PM

"It is odd to me how disinterested/disoriented the president seems about the Iranian situation."

Only if you are 100% sure that new government 1) Will take over from the clerics whose power you describe in deep detail, at least for a blog; and 2) you are 100% certain that any new government will be overwhelmingly moderate and non-hostile to the West, which would be quite an optimistic attitude to take given the power that oil sales gives you; the decades-long pursuit of regional supremacy by Iran (which you also, indirectly, acknowledge); and the inertia of 30 years of anti-Western policy in Iran.

I am not that optimistic, which is why the best thing for the USA to do, at least in public, is generally support a fair election in Iran, and let Congress and Europe be more specific in their support.

Never forget two things:
1. Iranians, even the ones who lean to the USA, remember our last couple of involvements in Iranian politics;
2. There likely is more than two factions fighting this out; there are likely three or four, and it's best we don't put our support explicitly behind one until we are certain how that might play out for us.

Until then, make strong but general noise about fair elections and all that.

I've yet to see any true moderate figure emerge in Iran, which, of course, is understandable for various reasons. I doubt more explicit support from Obama will change that fact.

Good Luck / June 22, 2009 2:44 PM

"The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict."

Martin Luther King

For someone who has gone on and on about America acting in conflict with our values, Obama has proven to rise short of his own rhetoric.

One would be hard pressed to deny that the pursuit of freedom is not one of our core values. Our country has long been a beacon for those suffering under oppression.

Now we are treated to cynical and morally bancrupt positioning being sold as "smart"

vise77 / June 22, 2009 2:58 PM

""The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict."

Sometimes, achieving one's goal requires one to remain wisely silent. Wisdom often also calls for patience. Even King more or less took a relatively patient and wise course with civil rights, if you consider what more militant groups wanted to do. Blacks of that era would have been justified using violence, I think. King took an alternate, and wiser, course.

As well, how can we be "neutral" if it remains unclear what side we should support, and what our realistic goal is for the new government.

So, spare me the quote machine, please. It's not a substitute for thinking.

"One would be hard pressed to deny that the pursuit of freedom is not one of our core values. "

No one is denying that. There are different paths to "freedom," my friend, and often we have to go on a case-by-case basis.

I find it amusing the the right-wing now suddenly is a great friend of the Iranian people. A few short months ago, the right wing all but wanted to nuke the country, a wish that has been around since 1979.

w / June 22, 2009 3:34 PM

Meh, I wish I cared.

vise77 / June 22, 2009 3:36 PM

W: So do I. The outcome of this "election" will play a huge, huge role in US foreign policy and perhaps even our economy, no matter who wins.

Good Luck / June 22, 2009 4:31 PM

In his flowery speech in Cairo, he let it be known to the muslim world that human rights were a universal right.

Doesn't it strike you as odd that within two weeks, when that view is tested, he clams up and says nothing?

Is that wisdom? That words mean nothing? That wisdom is telling the Islamic world that "when innocents in Bosnia are slaughtered, it is a stain on our collective conscious"...

...but when innocents are slaughtered in Iran, lets take a wait and see approach, because we dont' really know who is going to come out on top on this one?

At some point, you are just going to have to realize that promoting freedom is not part of the Obama agenda.

Marnie / June 22, 2009 6:13 PM

Yes, yes, Good Luck. We GET IT: YOU DO NOT LIKE OBAMA, and support none of his policies.

Kate / June 23, 2009 10:56 AM

I would like to know how to help the protesters, other than changing my Twitter.

I think Obama is avoiding strong commentary on the situation because Ahmadinejad rode to power on an anti-American imperialist platform and Obama doesn't want to strengthen his position. But do hope to God he is working behind the scenes to help justice be done.

Good Luck / June 23, 2009 11:18 AM

The administration is refusing to renege on its invitation to the Khomenei regime for a 4th of July celebration!

Smart Power. Obama administration officials are now claiming credit for the protests!

"But privately Obama advisers are crediting his Cairo speech for inspiring the protesters, especially the young ones, who are now posing the most direct challenge to the republic's Islamic authority in its 30-year history"

Amateur hour... again

K / June 23, 2009 1:50 PM

Good Luck, what do you think the president should be doing? Please be specific.

Good Luck / June 23, 2009 3:42 PM

The most logical thing to do is to stop referring to the Khomenei regime as a government elected by the people. Everyone knows that it is a rigged election, so by continuing his naive "engagement" policy, he transfers undue legitimacy to an illegitimate government.

People who say "oh, we shouldnt' say anything lest the government use it to brand the protesters foreign influenced" are fooling themselves. At this point, the sides have been chosen and there is no way that the Iranian people would believe such a lie while they are being gunned down by the government.

At this point, he has limited his options to either continuing the "engagement" policy and betraying the people of Iran (a move that will be seen as such throughout the muslim world, and as a continuation of US policy propping up dictators) or acknowledge that his "engagement" policy was flawed and change the approach.

Even though he says that "we need to deal with the Iran we have, not the Iran we want to have", it has become obvious that he prefers to deal with the Iran we had.

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