Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Iranian People And Obama’s Ruthless Pragmatism

In his own words, Obama has told us that he strives for “ruthless pragmatism.” We can see that very clearly in his response to the plight of the Iranian people.

The Iranians put their lives at risk in hopes of achieving freedom from their oppressive regime, but Obama offers cold comfort. Seeking support from their friends in America, the Iranians cry out for justice in English. But Obama is ostensibly unmoved.

At first glance, Obama’s apparent indifference is perplexing. But Obama’s commitment to ruthless pragmatism explains why he has been so circumspect with regard to the struggles of the Iranian people.

In an article published in the Washington Post, Robert Kagan makes some very poignant observations. It’s an excellent piece, and I urge you to read it in its entirety. Here is the condensed version of his argument:

Obama’s supporters railed against the Bush administration’s “freedom agenda” and insisted on a new “realism.” Now Obamaphiles find themselves rooting for freedom and democracy in Iran. But the upheaval in Iran is not good news for Obama. It is an unwelcome complication in his strategy of engaging with the Iranian regime.

One of the great innovations in Obama’s approach to Iran was supposed to be its embrace of the regime’s legitimacy. The idea was that the U.S. could not expect the Iranian regime to negotiate on its nuclear program so long as Washington gave any encouragement to the government’s opponents. This was widely applauded as a realist departure from Bush’s “idealism.”

It would be surprising if Obama departed from this realist strategy now, and he hasn’t. His muted response to the outburst of popular anger at the regime has been widely misinterpreted as reflecting concern that too overt an American embrace of the opposition will hurt it.

Whatever his personal sympathies may be, if Barack sticks to his original strategy, he can have no interest in helping the opposition. His strategy toward Iran places him objectively on the side of the government’s efforts to return to normalcy as quickly as possible, not in league with the opposition’s efforts to prolong the crisis.

Once Mousavi lost, however unfairly, Obama objectively had no use for him or his followers. If Obama appears to support to the Iranian opposition in any way, he will appear hostile to the regime, which is precisely what he hoped to avoid. Obama’s policy now requires getting past the election controversies quickly so that he can soon begin negotiations with the reelected Ahmadinejad government. This will be difficult as long as opposition protests continue and the government appears to be too brutal to do business with.

Obama needs a rapid return to quiet in Iran. His goal must be to deflate the opposition, not to encourage it. And that, by and large, is what he has been doing. The worst thing is that this approach will probably not prevent the Iranian regime from getting a nuclear weapon. But this is what “realism” is all about.

From a comment posted in the Wonk Room:

…There is no neutral stance in this. A subdued reaction sends a message just like a condemnation does. Obama is hedging his bets so that he can negotiate with the Iranian regime no matter who wins, even if it’s understood by the entire world that an Ahmadinejad-led Iranian Government is nothing more than a fraud…

What is it all for? The truth is that this supposedly prudent restraint has won us nothing. We now have a fresh report that Iran is accusing the United States of “meddling” anyway.

I ask again: what is it all for? At what point does Obama lend rhetorical support on the side of justice?

Comments from William A. Jacobson:

You knew this was inevitable. Regardless of what Barack Obama said or did, the Iranian regime would accuse the U.S. of meddling in Iran’s internal affairs.

Obama’s near silence achieved nothing, as regards the Iranian regime. Which proves the foolishness of those who argue that comments in support of the right of Iranians to free and fair elections somehow would provoke the Iranian regime…

Obama’s statement yesterday that he did not want “to be seen as meddling” all but invited an accusation of meddling…

These accusations appear to be a precursor to, and excuse for, a violent crackdown by the regime, which could start as early as Thursday…

Rather than placating the regime, weakness by the West and Obama may actually embolden the regime to resort to more violence. In the same breath that Obama voice tepid support for the Iranian people, he also voiced an intent to commence negotiations with the current regime. This mixed message was unnecessary, and counter-productive.

If as appears likely, tomorrow brings a new level of regime violence, will Obama remain silent, or straddle the fence once again? Obama’s 3 a.m. test is here.

So the ruthlessly pragmatic Barack Obama has decided not to support the Iranian people. They lost they’re losers. Why provide them with rhetorical support, only to burn bridges with the tyrants who will likely retain power? Whether or not Ahmadinejad’s victory was legitimate, he won. And winning is the only thing that matters in the mind of a tyrant.

I won, I have the power, I’m the decider. Capice?” Obama understands that.

Liberals pride themselves on their relentless pursuit of justice. Is this what they voted for?


Obama, Siding With the Regime in Iran

Why Are Iranians Using English On Protest Signs

What doesn't Obama understand about "Where Is My Vote?"

Obama's Muted Response

"It's not productive, given the history of U.S.-Iranian relations, to be seen as meddling."

‘We the People’ vs. ‘I Won

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Bungalow Bill said...

Obama is missing a chance for greatness and real peace. What a buffoon! It's clear now freedom is not on the Obama agenda.

bluepitbull said...

It is beyond the capabilities of the Democratic Party to comprehend having a foreign policy past the standard, "Can't we all just get along?"

This president saw the courage of the last president in picking a direction and heading that way and what public opinion and liberal pundits have done to President Bush and lives in constant fear of doing something to piss off his base even though they will never truly be happy with any decision.

Anonymous said...

Of course the liberals were hoping for regime chance in Iran so Obama could get credit for it and make life easier for him in the middle east.The disturbing thing is the same thing could happen here in upcoming electons as Obama and his cohorts are flooding the system with billions to turn out the vote.It takes time to go through all those death certificates to find new dim voters.

Anonymous said...

Wow Obama looks like a bad ass in that picture.. lets not forget he killed a fly!

RightKlik said...

BB: Obama is the only thing on Obama's agenda.

Blue: In this case Obama could speak up for democracy in Iran and earn the respect of liberals and conservatives alike. Instead, he's taking the ultra-cowardly ruthlessly pragmatic approach by turning his back on the Iranian people. This isn't what Americans stand for. This isn't even what Liberals stand for.

PM: Obama will help spread thugocracy here in America and across the globe. Viva la ACORN!

RiR: Yes, it's the real Obama. It's the picture they took of him during the interview in which he described his own "ruthless pragmatism". The only way to read it for free is to go through Google. You can use this link:

cube said...

Ruthless pragmatism, my a$$. His policies are so half-baked that I wonder where he gets the nerve to call any of it pragmatic. Oh yeah, the boundless ego. Perhaps he meant ruthless egocentrism?

RightKlik said...

cube: Niccolò Machiavelli would be proud.

suek said...

>>Liberals pride themselves on their relentless pursuit of justice. Is this what they voted for?>>

You misunderstand. "Justice" to a liberal means doing things the "right" way - which means "their" way.

Of course, they'll tell you that there really isn't an objective standard of right or wrong, but nevertheless, their way is the right way, and any other way is wrong.

Actually - their "logic" defeats me...

robert verdi said...

This is a disaster for the Iranian people if he stays silent.

RightKlik said...

Suek: "Actually - their 'logic' defeats me..."

...Maybe it's the lack thereof.

They should be trying to figure us out.

RightKlik said...

RV: I think you're right. Why can't Obama talk like Sarkozy?

Z said...

"don't bother me, I'm swattin' FLIES"..."and the media's swoonin' again! YIPPEE!"

The people are asking in ENGLISH, where does Obama THINK he's speaking to...FRANCE? (who, incidentally, DID have the guts to denounce the election results?)

Meanwhile, A-job's been in Russia, hiding...did he KNOW they'd get this kind of reaction to the results? HMM

comprehensive post, Rk..thanks for the good info.

Z said...

oh, man, it would serve me well to read all the comments before commenting!

Just wanted to add that an interesting point is the people are NOT all pro Mousavi..

and who knew there's an Iranian ACORN?

RightKlik said...

Z: "...oh, man, it would serve me well to read all the comments before commenting!"

You're talking to somebody who RARELY reads all the comments before commenting.

"Just wanted to add that an interesting point is the people are NOT all pro Mousavi."

That is a VERY important point. I just read some interesting comments about that at RedState:

"...the situation is complex. The cast of key figures holds few heroes. But then, it’s not really about Mousavi, is it?

"It’s about the thousands of individual Iranians, from citizen reporters on Twitter to underground hip-hop stars, who believe their vote, and voice, should matter. It’s about the fact that they are taking to the streets in protest for that right. It’s about their belief that they ought to have a say in their destiny and their government. It’s about a Muslim nation with a rogue government being stalled and thwarted by thousands of citizens demanding their individual rights be honored.

"On both the right and the left, on the blogs, at twitter, among the pundits, this is largely a shared sentiment."