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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Moral Clarity Vs. Nuance

During the Bush administration, one of the biggest complaints from the left was President Bush's use of the term "axis of evil" to describe Iran, Iraq, and North Korea. The left saw this as undiplomatic. It would incite those he targeted and make it harder to carry out diplomacy. From President Bush's perspective, he saw a clear moral clarity. He felt there are good guys in the world and bad guys. He wanted to draw a clear line between the two. The left saw this is simplictic. The world is filled with gray and the world needs nuance to see it.

Now, the left has exactly the sort of leader that they have always wanted. The post election violence in Iran is now in its fourth day and so far the message from the White House can be characterized as "nuanced". He's praised the elections as an exercise in robust debate. He has maintained that he is still committed to working with the Iranian regime despite misgivings about the election results. The State Department has even gone so far as to refuse to condemn the violence.

State Department spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters Monday that the United States is concerned about allegations of ballot fraud.

Kelly described the U.S. government as “deeply troubled” by the events in Iran, which is a stronger expression of concern than over the weekend when Vice President Biden cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election.

When pressed by a reporter, Kelly declined to condemn the Iranian security forces for their crackdown on street protesters. And he said the U.S. knows too little about the conduct of the election to say for sure whether there was fraud.

Here's his statement on the matter yesterday. (H/T to Hot Air)

In fact, it's frankly hard to tell which of the two sides Obama is rooting for. It's hard to tell if he is rooting at all. President Obama appears to be maintaining the posture that this is an internal Iranian matter and that his role should be limited to a concerned outside observer. So, the best chance to overthrow the Mullahs has arrived and President Obama appears to have no horse in the race.

Compare this to the manner in which Ronald Reagan approached a similar uprising in 1981 in Poland.

As I speak to you tonight, the fate of a proud and ancient nation hangs in the balance. For a thousand years, Christmas has been celebrated in Poland, a land of deep religious faith, but this Christmas brings little joy to the courageous Polish people. They have been betrayed by their own government.

The men who rule them and their totalitarian allies fear the very freedom that the Polish people cherish. They have answered the stirrings of liberty with brute force, killings, mass arrests, and the setting up of concentration camps. Lech Walesa and other Solidarity leaders are imprisoned, their fate unknown. Factories, mines, universities, and homes have been assaulted.
The target of this depression [repression] is the Solidarity Movement, but in
attacking Solidarity its enemies attack an entire people. Ten million of Poland's 36 million citizens are members of Solidarity. Taken together with their families, they account for the overwhelming majority of the Polish nation. By persecuting Solidarity the Polish Government wages war against its own people.

I urge the Polish Government and its allies to consider the consequences of their actions. How can they possibly justify using naked force to crush a people who ask for nothing more than the right to lead their own lives in freedom and dignity? Brute force may intimidate, but it cannot form the basis of an enduring society, and the ailing Polish economy cannot be rebuilt with terror tactics.

The Solidarity Party eventually won independence from the authoritarian regime in Poland and Poland is a democracy, and one of our biggest allies, today. The left despised this from both Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. They now have their wish.

Yet, if you are a revolutionary in Iran, are you now convinced that the United States has your back if you continue to risk your life and escalate the revolt? Isn't support from the greatest democracy in the world of vital importance in such a revolution?

Furthermore, even if the Mullahs are overthrown, that doesn't guarantee that a similarly authoritarian regime won't replace them. At some point we need to choose sides, wouldn't now be a good time to choose the side of freedom?


Anonymous said...

Comparing Poland and Eastern Europe to Iran and the Middle East isn't a particularly good strategy. The Polish knew who were responsible for their predicament: the Soviets. The Iranians, on the other hand, know the US is responsible for their predicament. Some of them think the US abandoned them to Khomeini, some of them think backing the Shah was evil, and pretty much all of them were pissed that Reagan gave Saddam weapons to use against them.

But wait, there's more. Iranians tend to believe they are special. You can see it every time they go to great lengths to dissociate themselves from Arabs. They believe they have First-World potential and aspire to the status of a major power. Case in point, I don't believe that even Mousavi's supporters would agree with dismantling Iran's nuclear program.

So they're militantly proud and aspire to become a not just a first world country, but a major middle east power. Plus, they're wary of the US and its motives. And THESE are the people you think are just begging for the US to overthrow their government?

mike volpe said...

no situation is an exact replica however folks like you always use the differences to dismiss the obvious parallels.

What is the same is that the people are on the brink of revolution and tyrants are trying to squelch that. At this point, there needs to be moral clarity. Which side are you with? Do you side with the tyrants or those demanding freedom?

The Iranians DO NOT know that the U.S. is responsible for their predicament. The government says that. What do you think that Polish media wasn't saying the same thing in 1981. The reality is that the youth in Iran is plenty pro U.S.

Yes, the relationships in Iran are complicated but this situation is simple. We had an election. That election was fixed, and now the same people that fixed the election want to put down the protests that resulted from it. Which side are we on?