So we hear from Jay Solomon on the front page of today’s Wall Street Journal. Or at least from his headline. Once you get into the text, it seems much less. It seems that, after seven months of courageous demonstrations from millions of Iranians, at least some of our policy makers have realized that the tyrannical regime headed by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadi Nezhad is widely hated and has lost legitimacy with its subjects. That is all to the good, as is the new tone of statements from President Obama and others in clear support of the dissidents.
But there is as yet no sign of “helping” the opposition. Nor does Solomon provide any reason to think that any such policy is in the works. The most that can be said, based on his report, is that we are considering a Hippocratic policy: do them no harm.
As Solomon describes it:
Senior U.S. officials stressed in interviews this week that President Barack Obama isn’t moving toward seeking a regime change as its policy for Iran. Rather, these officials said, Washington remains committed to a dual-track approach of pursuing dialogue aimed at ending Iran’s nuclear program while applying increasing financial pressure if the talks fail.
To which one’s immediate question is: haven’t the talks failed? It’s been 31 years now. And even Obama’s promise to “act” if, there were no breakthrough by New Year’s Day has been dropped. So it’s business as usual. Appeasement.
Both the Obama administration and the Iranian dissidents have been wary of any direct contacts, due to fears such meetings could provide ammunition for Tehran…
Nonsense! The dissidents are not wary of “contacts.” Rather they are discouraged and more than a bit peeved at the lack of any contacts from the Western world. The so-called “fears such meetings could provide ammunition” to the regime is like the West’s refusal to save the European Jews during the Holocaust or help Soviet dissidents during the Cold War. The Iranian dissidents are already being raped, tortured and executed en masse, and we are daily blamed for the very existence of the opposition movement. This “excuse” is the classic language of appeasers.
Still, the White House’s re-evaluation of the Green Movement marks a significant evolution of Mr. Obama’s Iran policy since demonstrators began openly challenging President Ahmadinejad’s re-election in June, said diplomats and analysts.
At best, the re-evaluation demonstrates a grudging recognition that the Intelligence Community once again failed to understand events in Iran. Obama’s words in support of the Green Movement are indeed encouraging, but in order for the Journal‘s headling to be correct, the United States has to actually DO some things. Those things are easy, proper, inexpensive, and non-violent, just like the Green Movement itself.
Here a few such actions:
First, provide aid to the families of the political prisoners, and of the dissident martyrs. This should be accompanied by public calls for the release of the prisoners and an end to torture and all human rights violations in Iranian prisons;
Second, provide modern communications devices to dissidents. In the Cold War we sent fax machines to Soviet dissidents; today’s freedom fighters need modern telephones and servers;
Third, bring an end to the regime’s successful jamming of radio and tv broadcasts into the country (nowadays, BBC, VOA, PARS and Farda are effectively off the air, while Iranian broadcasts on the same Hotbird satellite–including no less than seventeen tv channels–broadcast with no difficulty. Iranians need to know what is going on in their own country, and they need to hear encouraging words from the West.
Simple, proper and non-violent, but effective measures against an evil, violent regime that is killing its own people and ours every single day.