How Obama Killed the Iran Election Protests

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Iran Election ProtestProtesters in Iran shocked the world with their response to the rigged election, while Iran’s Revolutionary Guard appalled us with its brutality.  That the West was so viscerally angry about the mistreatment of Iranian protesters is a good sign – it indicates that notions of justice and liberty still run deep within us.  But the fact that we were shocked suggests that we have not been paying attention.  Are we surprised that an election is faked in a country where real power is held by a theocratic Supreme Leader, subject to a religious text and not his people?  Are we caught unawares when protesters are beaten in a nation which arrests its own citizens for being homosexual, not covering their heads, wearing makeup, or other forms of ‘social corruption’?  The Iranian government has a long history of oppressing its own people under strict Sharia law and suppressing political opposition.

After enduring this treatment for 30 years, the tinder was lit in the streets of Tehran, and change seemed to be on the horizon.  Ad hoc protests could not be sustained indefinitely, however, and activists looked to world leaders for support.  Since her founding as the first country designed to protect individual rights, America has stood as a symbol for freedom for most of the shackled populations of the world.  Surely the President of America could make a strong moral statement in support of freedom in Iran.

Sadly, for ten days, Obama could not muster even a rebuke.  When the crisis deepened and political pressure forced him to take a stand, the criticism he delivered was followed with an immediate concession of Iran’s sovereignty and a promise not to meddle in its internal affairs.  While men and women were being brutalized and gunned down in the streets, the message sent by this administration is that there were “irregularities” in the election process, which needed to be investigated.

The call for an investigation was a travesty. What would such an investigation bring?  In America, where limitation of powers was a founding principle, corrupt politicians such as Blagojevich and Tom Delay are shunned and brought to justice.  In Iran, internal investigations are as contrived as the election was.

The Guardian Council did in fact announce an investigation into the election.  This time, few of us were shocked to see a decision in Ahmedinejad’s favor.  Supreme Leader Khomeini announced that some rigging had taken place, but not enough to change the outcome of the election.  The result stands, and Iran can say that they have complied with all that the international community has asked of them.  With fading hope, the protests have faltered and failed.  There will be no justice for Iranian citizens.

Obama’s timid response was worse than silence.  Rather than validate and inspire the opposition, the leader of the free world bestowed the Islamic Republic with a veneer of legitimacy.  This legitimacy serves as a powerful weapon in international debate, and is decidedly undeserved.   So long as he continues to evade the danger of a nation such as Iran, which aims to violently spread Sharia law to the rest of the world, Obama will lend sanction to a very dangerous regime.

For an idea of how an American President should have commented on Iran’s crackdown on protestors, read Debi Ghate’s excellent op-ed here.

Photo by Farhad Rajabali, released under Creative Commons.

Posted by on July 17, 2009. Filed under Foreign Policy, Summer 2009. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
  • D. Jason Fleming (djasonflemin
  • Daniel J Casper

    Today, ten of thousands of Iranian protestors gathered before a prayer, chanting “Freedom” and “Death to the Dictator.” The Iranian President said he would strike his enemies “in the face.” Iranians who back the government chanted “Death to America.” The Iranian Revolutionaries responded with “Death to China” and “Death to Russia.”

    They were, of course, tear gassed, then herded like cattle away from the scene by armed policemen. A Cleric opposed to the current regime was attacked by plainclothes police officers (called the Basijis) on the way to the prayer.

    Yet to say that Obama killed the Iranian election is a flawed statement. Obviously, he should have taken a proper moral approach, but the United States sanction is irrelevant. Even if he had sanctioned the “revolution,” so to speak, what would happen next when the Iranians tried to change their government?

    They would meet machine gun fire instead of tear gas. No, the Iranians are to blame for their government, their failed election, and the lack of a proper revolution to overthrow their government. If the protests had continued, and this occured, would you then expect the United States to do anything about it – at all?

    The Iranians need to stop believing in democracy and Islam and adopt the principle that human rights are universal and unbreakable. Only then will they have the moral grounds to stand on, and can embark on the action required. I quote Ayn Rand, “All the reasons which make the initiation of physical force an evil, make the retaliatory use of physical force a moral imperative.” Thus, according to Objectivism, the Iranians have a moral imperative to use force to overthrow their government at this point in time.

  • D. Jason Fleming (djasonfleming) ‘s status on Friday, 17-Jul
  • #iranelection | The Undercurre

    [...] appalled us with its brutality. That the West was so viscerally angry about the mistreatment of Read more Share and [...]

  • Daniel J Casper

    Today, ten of thousands of Iranian protestors gathered before a prayer, chanting “Freedom” and “Death to the Dictator.” The Iranian President said he would strike his enemies “in the face.” Iranians who back the government chanted “Death to America.” The Iranian Revolutionaries responded with “Death to China” and “Death to Russia.”

    They were, of course, tear gassed, then herded like cattle away from the scene by armed policemen. A Cleric opposed to the current regime was attacked by plainclothes police officers (called the Basijis) on the way to the prayer.

    Yet to say that Obama killed the Iranian election is a flawed statement. Obviously, he should have taken a proper moral approach, but the United States sanction is irrelevant. Even if he had sanctioned the “revolution,” so to speak, what would happen next when the Iranians tried to change their government?

    They would meet machine gun fire instead of tear gas. No, the Iranians are to blame for their government, their failed election, and the lack of a proper revolution to overthrow their government. If the protests had continued, and this occured, would you then expect the United States to do anything about it – at all?

    The Iranians need to stop believing in democracy and Islam and adopt the principle that human rights are universal and unbreakable. Only then will they have the moral grounds to stand on, and can embark on the action required. I quote Ayn Rand, “All the reasons which make the initiation of physical force an evil, make the retaliatory use of physical force a moral imperative.” Thus, according to Objectivism, the Iranians have a moral imperative to use force to overthrow their government at this point in time.

  • Joseph Kellard

    “[T]he Iranians are to blame for their government, their failed election, and the lack of a proper revolution to overthrow their government … The Iranians need to stop believing in democracy and Islam and adopt the principle that human rights are universal and unbreakable.”

    Hear! Hear! I’ve been saying this all along.

  • #iranelection | The Undercurrent | How Obama Killed the Iran

    [...] appalled us with its brutality. That the West was so viscerally angry about the mistreatment of Read more Share and [...]

  • The Undercurrent | How Obama K

    [...] Original post [...]

  • Joseph Kellard

    “[T]he Iranians are to blame for their government, their failed election, and the lack of a proper revolution to overthrow their government … The Iranians need to stop believing in democracy and Islam and adopt the principle that human rights are universal and unbreakable.”

    Hear! Hear! I’ve been saying this all along.

  • The Undercurrent | How Obama Killed the Iran Election Protes

    [...] Original post [...]

  • Ray

    Have you noticed a pattern in Obama’s knee jerk responses when world events take place? How he finds something to do around the house (meaning domestic)? Oh lets pass a smoking bill on cigs. Or lets talk about cars emissions or or or. I see why he never would serve in any military service anywhere around the world. No Balls for it. He is a photo negative of TR, FDR,HT and so many others before them. At best I could only compare him to a house cat that hides under a sofa. Or as TR once said: “The president has the back bone of an eclair” A man with nothing between his legs. He is the laughing stock of the nation. If he is so good at bowing , then he should do the “honorable” (a quality not present in most of our politicians today) and bow out.

  • Ray

    Have you noticed a pattern in Obama’s knee jerk responses when world events take place? How he finds something to do around the house (meaning domestic)? Oh lets pass a smoking bill on cigs. Or lets talk about cars emissions or or or. I see why he never would serve in any military service anywhere around the world. No Balls for it. He is a photo negative of TR, FDR,HT and so many others before them. At best I could only compare him to a house cat that hides under a sofa. Or as TR once said: “The president has the back bone of an eclair” A man with nothing between his legs. He is the laughing stock of the nation. If he is so good at bowing , then he should do the “honorable” (a quality not present in most of our politicians today) and bow out.

  • Burgess Laughlin

    A question worth exploring, I think, is this: In an ideal society–one in which one’s own government is solely dedicated to protecting the individual rights of its citizens–what would be the relationship between the chief executive and foreign political events?

    My answer is that the chief executive need comment on current events elsewhere only if they involve countries which are threatening one’s own.

    In contrast, it is not the job of the U. S. president, for example, to be a general news commenter. His job is to lead by enforcing laws domestically and by organizing spies and soldiers to protect the country internationally. He should be a manager, not a pundit.

    Iran has indeed threatened the USA. It deserves the president’s public attention, but as a military leader, not as a tepid news commentator working for “engagement” and “democracy.”

  • Burgess Laughlin

    A question worth exploring, I think, is this: In an ideal society–one in which one’s own government is solely dedicated to protecting the individual rights of its citizens–what would be the relationship between the chief executive and foreign political events?

    My answer is that the chief executive need comment on current events elsewhere only if they involve countries which are threatening one’s own.

    In contrast, it is not the job of the U. S. president, for example, to be a general news commenter. His job is to lead by enforcing laws domestically and by organizing spies and soldiers to protect the country internationally. He should be a manager, not a pundit.

    Iran has indeed threatened the USA. It deserves the president’s public attention, but as a military leader, not as a tepid news commentator working for “engagement” and “democracy.”

  • Objectivist Roundup #106 « Rea

    [...] Crawford presents How Obama Killed the Iran Election Protests posted at The Undercurrent, saying, “Obama’s timid response to the Iranian election [...]

  • Objectivist Roundup #106 « Reality Talk

    [...] Crawford presents How Obama Killed the Iran Election Protests posted at The Undercurrent, saying, “Obama’s timid response to the Iranian election [...]

  • Randy

    I gotta say I respectfully disagree. My insticts say that freedom movements should always be vocally supported too, but in this case I think Obama did the right thing by being painfully cautious with such things. If he opened his mouth and tried to make America a symbol for that protest movement, he would have killed it instantly. There’s still a lot of nationalism in Iran and it runs against the US. The US helped overthrow their democratically-elected president (Mossadeq) and install the Shah, and that is not forgotten for a second. More recently, the US supported Iraq in its war against Iran. For sure, a lot of young Iranians admire America and look up to her as an example of liberal democracy. And for sure, they wanted the attention and support of the west in this revolution. I think Westerners should have loudly declared their support for the protestors, and offer help (I made my computer a proxy support for Iranian dissidents). But not governments. Governments are agents of power, and it was American governments that destabled Iran in the first place. If China had overthrown my Canadian government, I know I would be pretty ticked off, whether or not I agreed with that government’s content or structure. And then for China to have the gall to weigh in on future Canadian election results, would be doubly insulting. Better for us citizens to offer our loud support, but keep our governments out of it.

  • Randy

    I gotta say I respectfully disagree. My insticts say that freedom movements should always be vocally supported too, but in this case I think Obama did the right thing by being painfully cautious with such things. If he opened his mouth and tried to make America a symbol for that protest movement, he would have killed it instantly. There’s still a lot of nationalism in Iran and it runs against the US. The US helped overthrow their democratically-elected president (Mossadeq) and install the Shah, and that is not forgotten for a second. More recently, the US supported Iraq in its war against Iran. For sure, a lot of young Iranians admire America and look up to her as an example of liberal democracy. And for sure, they wanted the attention and support of the west in this revolution. I think Westerners should have loudly declared their support for the protestors, and offer help (I made my computer a proxy support for Iranian dissidents). But not governments. Governments are agents of power, and it was American governments that destabled Iran in the first place. If China had overthrown my Canadian government, I know I would be pretty ticked off, whether or not I agreed with that government’s content or structure. And then for China to have the gall to weigh in on future Canadian election results, would be doubly insulting. Better for us citizens to offer our loud support, but keep our governments out of it.

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