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Don’t Iranians Deserve ‘Hope and Change’ Too?

The post-election options couldn't be any more clear-cut: fight for democracy and human rights — or cut a deal with a thuggish despot at any price. What will Obama choose?

by
Jennifer Rubin

Bio

June 15, 2009 - 12:35 am
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The Iranian election has given the world a jolt of reality. For those confused about the nature of the Iranian regime, its true colors are now revealed. But it has also been a clarifying event in America.

It has been obvious for some time that the American Left has given up on democracy and human rights as fundamental tenets of American foreign policy. But never before has it been so clear just how ruthless and indifferent they are to the aspirations of those who would be crushed by the boot of despotic regimes. And never before have we seen how Herculean a task it is to deny and obfuscate the nature of these sorts of regimes in order to pursue a policy devoted to stability, engagement, and process as goals in and of themselves (rather than as means to some greater ends).

The Iranian election and its aftermath demonstrate just how vast is the difference in approach between the Obama administration, which has embodied the Left’s total embrace of realpolitik, and its conservative critics.

This illuminating discussion from the Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, Juan Williams. Mara Liasson, and Bill Kristol suggests that the hope and change crowd isn’t in the White House, at least not when we get to hope and change for citizens of other countries:

WALLACE: So you think all of President Obama’s efforts or hopes to reach out to Iran on some level — that that’s dead?

WILLIAMS: Well, it looks like it. I mean, the only thing is that there’s the possibility that you get Ayatollah Khamenei and others in search of some kind of domestic appeasement, saying to people, “You know what? Oh, no, we’re going to negotiate with the international community. We’re going to take steps to try to amp down the tensions here.” But that’s the only hope.

I don’t see that there’s much hope now in terms of these negotiations going forward because President Obama would look weaker. It would look as if he was giving in to this man who’s not even legitimately elected.

KRISTOL: Juan’s giving up on reaching out by President Obama. At the moment you should be — this is the moment for President Obama to step up. He does have some credibility, presumably, with people in Iran. He should support the democrats.

HUME: Right.

KRISTOL: He should support the demonstrators. He should say that stealing elections is unacceptable, killing demonstrators in the streets of Tehran is unacceptable. He could work with the Europeans to say, “Let’s bring in international observers to review whether this was a fair election. If it wasn’t, let’s think about having another election.”

WALLACE: But you’re saying turn up the heat, not reach out to the ruling regime.

KRISTOL: Reach out to — right, reach out to the Iranian people. I mean, this is the — I really am shocked that Obama has said nothing so far, and we’ll see what he says today.

But I mean, doesn’t America — when these things happen, there’s — when there are democratic protests and there’s a chance for success, their success depends on outside forces helping them. That was true in Lebanon.

KRISTOL: No, I do want to …

LIASSON: No, no.

KRISTOL: … open communication channels.

HUME: No.

KRISTOL: I do want to send money. And I want to tell the Iranians who are on the fence and who do want trade with Europe and do want warmer relations with the U.S., “Look, you’ve got now to back off or else you don’t get anything you want.”

The worst thing the U.S. can say is, “We don’t care what you do in there. We desperately want to engage the regime no matter how thuggish it is.”

LIASSON: It’s worth a try. The worst thing that happens is you get a very clarifying moment if it fails. And that in and of itself might lead to some kind of a resolution of this.

HUME: But does anybody sense that the inclination of this administration is to do what Bill suggests? I think not. This president couldn’t have been blind to what Ahmadinejad is and what he represents, and he was prepared to reach out to him, as has been pointed out here.

I think he will continue to — that’s what they said yesterday in the face of all of this. I mean, I think it’s going to be — you know, it’s going to look terrible to do it now, given the questions about the legitimacy of this election. This will all play out in the next couple of days.

This is the approach which the Obama administration seems to be choosing, a ruthless determination to pursue some deal, any deal (there has to be a deal, right?) with the mullahs.

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