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Thursday, July 02, 2009

Opportunity lost?

Victor Davis Hanson argues that the United States has missed an opportunity to effect regime change in Iran (Hat Tip: Hot Air).
Unfortunately, Obama’s policy is a lose/lose proposition that will please neither side in Iran. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, isn’t suddenly going to embrace the U.S. because of Obama’s more charismatic approach, much less stop subsidizing terrorists and developing a nuclear arsenal.

For over three decades, the Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II administrations all reached out — both overtly and covertly — to the Iranian theocracy, with offers of normalizing relations, secret arms deals, back-channel meetings, and occasional apologies. But the clerics today are as anti-American as they were in 1979. And they’re still rounding up, killing, and torturing dissidents in the same manner that they used to consolidate power after the fall of the Shah.

In addition, our belated, tepid criticism of the repressive Iranian government may not translate into goodwill from Iranian advocates for freedom — given our painful silence in the early days of the demonstrations, when achieving global support was critical.

And what about other pro-democracy dissidents abroad — whether in Cuba, the Arab world, or Venezuela? Will they still trust that the U.S. supports their efforts to obtain a free society?

Meanwhile, authoritarians in China, North Korea, Russia, the Middle East, and South America may draw two unfair and unfortunate conclusions. One, the United States does not care much what other regimes do to their own people. Two, a new America will overlook almost anything in order just to get along with these authoritarians.
Unfortunately, I have to disagree with Hanson about those conclusions being unfair. Given the brief record of the Obama administration (pressure on Israel, trying to defeat the Karzai government in Afghanistan, trying to restore Zelaya in Honduras and inaction on Iran), it is eminently fair to say that the Obama administration - which as far as the rest of the world is concerned is currently the face of the United States - does not care much what other regimes do to their own people, and is willing to overlook almost anything to get along with the authoritarian regimes.

It's unfortunate because even though the American people made a mistake by electing The One, they don't deserve to be branded with the label of being indifferent to suffering elsewhere in the world.

But there's no doubt that Hanson is correct that the opportunity to effect or encourage regime change has been lost - possibly for a long time to come.


At 8:03 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

A revolution in Iran could not succeed without either a split in the ranks of the regime or external invention from the outside. The Iranian mullahs have demonstrated the lengths they are willing to go to remain in power. And the response from the West shows denial about the true nature of the regime.

What could go wrong indeed


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