Monday, June 22, 2009

Obama's perfect Iran gambit

The drama in Iran has heightened the rancor of domestic politics. The Sunday morning shows were replete with militarists from John McCain and Charles Grassley to none other than Bibi Netanyahu decrying the President's weak stance on the violence in Iran. And if one were to venture over to the right wing blogs or twitter, they would be greeted with all manner of disrepect for Obama's handling of the international affair.

McCain more recently praised the President's latest statement that called for an end to "all violent and unjust acts" in Iran, but earlier McCain had said "This is not just an Iran issue, this is an American issue. This is what we are all about...", echoing his blatantly misguided "We are all Georgians now" pablum from 2008.

Likewise, Sen Grassley and former Sen Fred Thompson were on separate Sunday morning shows stating that "we must do more" but neither offered specifics.

Here's my take. Obama's speech in Cairo a few weeks ago was the perfect gambit to our interactions with the Islamic world. This is indeed an "Us versus Them" scenario and the Us comprises moderate and liberal forces in every country and among every religion. The "Them" is made up of extremists, and every nation has them. The moderates can unite only so far as to show solidarity to promote self-determination and human rights, but revolution must come from within the nascent democracies themselves.

That speech in Cairo can be compared to Reagan's Brandenburg Gate speech where he implored Gorbachev to "tear down this wall." But Reagan did not deploy US troops to tear down the wall, rather the support emboldened the citizens to seize their own moment. Likewise, Iran is at a critical stage in their development as a nation and we should allow this to play out . This is their revolution, not ours.

Diane Feinstein has been eloquent in her opinion that we should leave our fingerprints off this event. The British and French have deflected most of the disdain coming from the Teheran oligarchs, and we should keep it that way. The US' sordid history with Iran leaves us with no political capital to expend one way or the other in Iran. One of the few things that could derail the democracy movement in Iran would be the US's support for that movement.

I would venture to guess that the only entity less popular with Iranian democrats than the murderous regime now in power there is likely the US government, remembered for barbarous policies and meddling for more than 40 years in Iran.

Obama's got it exactly right. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Iran is but one despotic regime and it's demise can be celebrated in due time. The work needs to be done by the Iranians and any action by the US-- at this particular time-- would be counter-productive.

No comments: