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McCain calls on Obama to use his mojo to support the Iranian Green Movement

Nearly a year after a disputed election sent tens of thousands of Iranians into the streets to protest against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s return to power, Sen. John McCain praised President Obama and said that his personal narrative and sparkling personality gave him the unique ability to make progress toward overthrowing the clerical regime in Tehran. "The ...

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Getty Images News
Getty Images News

Nearly a year after a disputed election sent tens of thousands of Iranians into the streets to protest against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's return to power, Sen. John McCain praised President Obama and said that his personal narrative and sparkling personality gave him the unique ability to make progress toward overthrowing the clerical regime in Tehran.

"The United States has never had a president whose personal story resonates as strongly overseas as President Obama's does -- whose ability to inspire, to move people, to mobilize them on behalf of democratic change is one of the greatest untapped sources of strength now available to Iran's human rights activists," he said. "If the president were to unleash America's full moral power to support the Iranian people -- if he were to make their quest for democracy the civil rights struggle of our time -- it could bolster their will to endure in their struggle, and the result could be historic."

Nearly a year after a disputed election sent tens of thousands of Iranians into the streets to protest against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s return to power, Sen. John McCain praised President Obama and said that his personal narrative and sparkling personality gave him the unique ability to make progress toward overthrowing the clerical regime in Tehran.

"The United States has never had a president whose personal story resonates as strongly overseas as President Obama’s does — whose ability to inspire, to move people, to mobilize them on behalf of democratic change is one of the greatest untapped sources of strength now available to Iran’s human rights activists," he said. "If the president were to unleash America’s full moral power to support the Iranian people — if he were to make their quest for democracy the civil rights struggle of our time — it could bolster their will to endure in their struggle, and the result could be historic."

McCain’s speech to the National Endowment of Democracy (NED) was a full-throated call for regime change in Iran, in addition to being a call for increased administration support for Iranian democracy advocates.

"I believe that when we consider the many threats and crimes of Iran’s government, we are led to one inescapable conclusion:  It is the character of this Iranian regime — not just its behavior — that is the deeper threat to peace and freedom in our world, and in Iran," McCain said. "Furthermore, I believe that it will only be a change in the Iranian regime itself — a peaceful change, chosen by and led by the people of Iran — that could finally produce the changes we seek in Iran’s policies."

NED Thursday gave its 2010 Democracy award to the Iranian Green Movement in a ceremony including NED Chairman Richard Gephardt and Reps. Rosa DeLauro, D-CT and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen R-FL.

McCain implored the audience not to believe the conventional wisdom in Washington that the Green Movement is waning.

"The Green Movement lives on. Its struggle endures.  And I am confident that eventually, maybe not tomorrow or next year or even the year after that, but eventually, Iranians will achieve the democratic changes they seek for their country," he said. "The Iranian regime may appear intimidating now, but it is rotting inside."

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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