Jun 20, 2009

Letting off steam versus winning

"The demonstrators are fighting on their own, but they await just a word that America is on their side. And what do they hear from the president of the United States? Silence.... The Khamenei regime is deciding whether to do a Tiananmen. And what side is the Obama administration taking? None... Our fundamental values demand that America stand with demonstrators opposing a regime that is the antithesis of all we believe. And where is our president? Afraid of "meddling." Afraid to take sides between the head-breaking, women-shackling exporters of terror -- and the people in the street yearning to breathe free. This from a president who fancies himself the restorer of America's moral standing in the world." — Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post
I've been listening to the chorus from the right demanding Obama come out with a stronger denunciation of the Iranian regime with growing incredulity. I have yet to find an expert on Iran who thinks that aligning ourselves with Mousavi would do anything but ensure his defeat — as well as unifying a crumbling regime, and retilting the balance of power back to Ahmadinejad. It would have the exact opposite effect to the desired outcome. On the plus side, of course, it might have some therapeutic value for those politicians wishing to let off some steam. It confirms what I have long thought about the Republicans when it comes to foreign policy: they don't actually want to win. They would prefer to sound good. Or rather: they start out wanting to win, but somewhere along the line, they come up against the competing desire to open their mouths. The speed with which they give in to temptation is almost comic.*

*I've been thinking about this. The following in the New York Times gave me second thoughts.
During the Bush years, Iran’s regime was able to coalesce support by uniting the country against a common enemy: President Bush, who called Iran a pillar of the “axis of evil” in a speech that alienated many of the very reformers whom the United States was trying to woo. For much of his administration, even as he strengthened Iran by toppling Iran’s nemesis Saddam Hussein, Mr. Bush struck a confrontational public line against the Iranian regime. The result, according to many experts here and in Iran, was that Iranians, including reformers, swallowed their criticism of the hard-line regime and united against the common enemy. Iranians with reformist sympathies even began advising Americans to stop openly supporting them, lest that open them to attack as pawns of America.
This is why the Republicans actions seem to lend themselves to helping the the hardliners. On some level, they want them in power. When McCain shoots off about how evil the regime is he is not giving vent to anger so much as confirming his identity: I am the enemy of that. Ahmadinejad complete him. It's still self-defeating as a long-term strategy, of course, but the motive is a little more understandable.

1 comment:

  1. It's all so cynically motivated it makes me want to give up on politics again. They can't actually believe Moussavi is really, like, this pro-USA guy who'll institute lots of nice reforms, can they? Or that denouncing the current regime wouldn't HELP said current regime? And say Obama did throw US muscle behind Moussavi... 1. to what end? this is NOT Tiannemen Square part 2, as far as I can tell; 2. if Moussavi took power and terrorists hit back at US for our "role" in it, wouldn't the US right wingers be the first to attack Obama for causing it to happen? It's so cynical. All of it.