Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Wise words on Iran

If you are as weary as I am of knee-jerk nonsense from pundits and pols who would rather tear down their president than really aid the Iranian people, then you might enjoy this commentary by Karim Sadjadpour. And unlike many in Washington, he actually knows what he is talking about. An expert on the Iranian ...

If you are as weary as I am of knee-jerk nonsense from pundits and pols who would rather tear down their president than really aid the Iranian people, then you might enjoy this commentary by Karim Sadjadpour. And unlike many in Washington, he actually knows what he is talking about. An expert on the Iranian opposition, he offers these wise words of advice:

This is extremely delicate and the situation is so dynamic. We clearly have to be on the right side of history here, but I think if we try to insert ourselves into the momentous internal Iranian drama that's unfolding we may unwittingly undermine those whom we're trying to strengthen. Historically that's often been the case in Iran.   

If you are as weary as I am of knee-jerk nonsense from pundits and pols who would rather tear down their president than really aid the Iranian people, then you might enjoy this commentary by Karim Sadjadpour. And unlike many in Washington, he actually knows what he is talking about. An expert on the Iranian opposition, he offers these wise words of advice:

This is extremely delicate and the situation is so dynamic. We clearly have to be on the right side of history here, but I think if we try to insert ourselves into the momentous internal Iranian drama that’s unfolding we may unwittingly undermine those whom we’re trying to strengthen. Historically that’s often been the case in Iran.   

It goes without saying that the Obama administration should clearly not acknowledge the results of these contested elections. This would demoralize people. We should also be pushing all of our allies not to acknowledge the results of these elections until justice prevails in Tehran. I was disappointed that Turkey’s Abdullah Gul and Afghanistan’s Hamid Karzai did not hesitate to congratulate Ahmadinejad. 

But again, I think if we overtly take sides the regime could well react with a massive and bloody crackdown on the demonstrators using the pretext that they are acting against an American-led coup."

(HT to old Steve Coll)

Of course, if the crackdown does grow bloody, then the United States government can step up the rhetoric-but then it will be doing so alongside its allies, instead of having other countries wary of joining us. But for the moment, as my friend (and counterinsurgency expert) Terry Daly observes, the question for President Obama is, "Does he have the intestinal fortitude to continue to do the difficult right thing and keep hands off the events in Iran, or will he fold under intense domestic pressure and loudly support Moussavi and the demonstrators?"

Meanwhile, this analysis points out that in two provinces, the recorded turnout exceeded 100 percent! Also check out this nice essay by proven provider Robin Wright about the role of Ayatollah Montazeri, who has issued a fatwah dismissing the election results.

CORRECTION: The other day this blog referred to right-wingers recklessly calling Obama weak for his careful handling of the Iranian crisis as "clowns." In fact, they should have been called "dangerous clowns." Best Defense regrets the error.

Thomas 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 ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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