- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I think President Obama is correct in showing extreme restraint in dealing with the situation in Iran. My concern is that opposition protestors will interpret any voicing of Western support as a sign that we will come to their aid. Every time I see one of those “Where is my vote?” signs in English, I worry even more.
As the Hungarians learned the hard way after being encouraged in 1956 in their uprising against their Soviet occupiers, we will not. Though I do hope that George Soros-a native of Hungary, by the way–and his Open Society Institute are doing whatever they can. At any rate, they know far better than does the U.S. government how to enable information flows.
So I think people should think twice before shooting off their mouths about “unqualified support,” like Rep. Mike Pence (R., Ind.) did this morning on Fox “News”:
. . . the American cause is freedom. And in that cause, America must never be silent.
I’ve introduced a resolution here on Capitol Hill. I’m talking to my Republican and Democrat colleagues about an opportunity for the American people through their elected representatives to express our unqualified support for those brave men and women who are risking their liberty and even their lives taking to the streets on behalf of freedom. They’re demonstrating for free elections, for the freedom of expression.
And, as we have done so many times throughout the history of this nation, I think the American people long for the opportunity to stand up, from our people to the people of Iran, and say, “We are with you in spirit as you stand for free and fair elections in your own country.”
I just hope that Iranian protestors know not to take this clown seriously.
This problem goes to the essence of strategy: A “tough” stance that Fox’s anchors are pushing might feel good, but it likely would be unproductive. A sober stance of the sort that Obama has taken is more difficult but likely more effective in the long run.
Meanwhile, for those reality-based readers who were wondering about the vote in the Iranian countryside, in the LA Times, Babrak Rahimi, an academic who recently was doing research in southern Iran, says his sense is that rural Iranians did not vote overwhelmingly for the mean little guy.
(HT to Kevin Drum)