Roger L. Simon

Obama, Iran and the ongoing saga of the liberal reactionary

To those who read this site, it’s no secret that I have never been a fan of Barack Obama’s. Ever since the revelation that the then candidate spent twenty years in the church of Jeremiah Wright, even choosing the title of his memoir from the words of the “Them Jews” reverend, I have had difficulty respecting Obama’s values or character. At best he seemed an opportunist. At worst… well, I don’t want to say. Since becoming President he has done little to reassure me. His principle contribution appears to have been nothing more than spending billions of dollars will-nilly in a manner no one seems to be able to comprehend or track.

So it will be no surprise to readers that I am similarly disturbed at his reaction to the current situation in Iran. He has done little in public beyond expressing “deep concern” on two occasions while making the point that any strong American comment on the Iranian election would only play into the hands of the mullahs, allowing them to blame the crisis on the Great Satan.

On the surface, Obama appears to have a point. But the curious thing is that not a single Iranian I know – and I know a fair number because of several years of involvement with their freedom movement – agrees. No one is advocating we call out the Marines, but almost every Iranian I have talked with would like to see a more fervent declaration of democratic principles, more support for the bravery of the demonstrators, by our president. Such declarations have already been made by Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy with no discernible backlash. My guess is that the Iranian demonstrators, those quite literally laying their lives on the line, would love to know that the leader of the free world is on their side.

But he waffles. Why?

I don’t believe his explanation, anymore than I believed he didn’t know the politics of Reverend Wright for twenty years. Sure some version of realpolitik might indicate a low profile. But that’s no more than a convenient excuse. What Obama wants more than anything is not to be seen as treading in the path of George W. Bush. Democracy promotion is not his game. That’s neocon stuff. Barack’s not going there, no how, no way, as he made clear in his Cairo speech. It would undermine everything he pretends to stand for, everything he proclaimed in his campaign.

But wait. I’m confused. Back when I identified as a liberal, democracy promotion was very much what we stood for. We would have done anything to get rid of the likes of Pinochet and Somoza. When Pinochet was up against it in Chile, every liberal I knew was jumping for joy, cheering on Salvador Allende. Why not the Iranian demonstrators against Ahmadinejad and the mullahs who, in many ways, are worse even than Pinochet? The Chilean dictator didn’t oppress women and gays to anywhere near the extent of the Islamists. He also wasn’t building a nuclear weapon and denying the Holocaust. Is everything standing on its head? What’s going on here? Left is right. Right is left. Liberal is… reactionary?

Yup, in this instance, it is.

But there’s more. The other explanation for Obama’s behavior is yet more ominous – that he stills wants to negotiate the nuclear situation with A-jad. Negotiate what? It couldn’t be more evident at this juncture that every moment in “negotiation” is another moment for the mullahs to construct their bomb. This is the time to be rallying the free world in a serious boycott of Iran, put the mullahs in a financial vise.

UPDATE: The Guardian details all the regime opponents and journalists who have been arrested – over one hundred in Tabriz alone – and yet Obama says nothing. What a jerk.

From the Guardian: There were also unconfirmed reports that Mohammad Asgari, who was responsible for the security of the IT network in Iran’s interior ministry, was killed yesterday in a suspicious car accident in Tehran. Asgari had reportedly leaked evidence that the elections were rigged to alter the votes from the provinces. Asgari was said to have leaked information that showed Mousavi had won almost 19m votes, and should therefore be president.

MORE: The Regime “photoshops” the pro-Ahmadinejad demonstration. [Who says they’re not allied with Hezbollah?-ed]