President Barack Obama clearly believes he can have it both ways when it comes to Iran, offering tepid support for the protest movement and shedding crocodile tears for the death of innocents, while keeping his hand stretched out longingly to the embattled Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
His top Iran advisers — Vali Nasr, the son of an ayatollah, and Ray Takeyh of the Council on Foreign Relations — have long been advocating greater U.S. accommodation with Tehran, so much so that they have been called by critics part of an Iran lobby in the United States.
When Khamenei arrogantly dismissed the protest movement at Friday prayers on June 19, the regime lost whatever legitimacy it might have claimed in the eyes of the Iranian people. The regime is now living on borrowed time.
Even if Khamenei and his thugs manage to quell the protest through extreme violence, the Iranian people are seething with contempt. Given the slightest spark, they will erupt again.
But Obama seems not to get the message. At his press conference last week, he made this troubling statement: "It's not too late for the Iranian government to see there is a peaceful path that leads to legitimacy in the eyes of the Iranian people."
Iranian dissident Mohsen Sazegara told Newsmax he was stunned by that statement and listened to the president’s words with “deep regret.”
For more on this, read “Key Dissident Riled at Obama’s Approach.”
Iranian-Americans who supported Obama’s election are beginning to change their minds. Some indicated as much on Twitter, sending messages of regret: “Obama, I want my vote back.”
Even the European Union is taking a tougher stand than the United States, and is considering sending a parliamentary delegation to Tehran to investigate reports of voter fraud and human rights abuses. Last week, Britain announced that it had frozen more than $1.5 billion in Iranian government assets. Obama expressed his “regrets.”
No one in Iran or in the international community will take seriously another election organized and supervised by this regime. Protesters have been chanting “death to the dictator” and “Allah-o akbar” — the same chants their parents shouted 30 years ago as they brought down the shah.
The regime itself is divided. Who would have thought that former regime leaders such as Hashemi-Rafsanjani and Mir Hossein Mousavi would return to the scene on a wave of a nationwide protest movement?
But rather than encourage fundamental change, Obama is signaling the Iranian leadership that he values stability over change, and is quite prepared to deal with a brutal clerical dictatorship. This puts him on the side of the oppressors — the wrong side for any president of the United States.
Obama appears to believe that the United States has only two policy options when it comes to Iran: do nothing, or consider military force. In fact, a president who understands American power and how to wield it would understand that we have many more cards to play.
For example, the United States could announce that it will not recognize Ahmadinejad as the duly-elected president of Iran until he is accepted by the Iranian people. That would have an electrifying impact on the people of Iran and would serve as a catalyst to rally international support against the clerical dictatorship.
Among Iranians, calls are being raised for the West to boycott Iranian oil. That, too, would send an unmistakable message to the regime and provide encouragement to Iranian workers who are contemplating a general strike.
Instead, as he has done several times already, Obama continues to offer more bromides. Asked how he reacted to the graphic video footage of the murder of a 26-year old woman, Neda Agha Sultan, Obama said he found it “heartbreaking.”
But when a reporter noted that the word “consequences” was noticeably missing in his comments, the president replied that the U.S. will refrain from acting “until we know how this is going to play out.”
In this high stakes game of power diplomacy, doing nothing amounts to taking sides. By proclaiming publicly that the United States will refrain from “meddling” in Iran’s domestic politics, Obama is throwing his support behind Khamenei, tacitly encouraging him to do whatever it takes to get the situation under control.
Given the track record of this regime, Obama has given Khamenei a green light to murder.
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