Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Protesting One Third Of The Axis

The Daily Dish points to a new dispatch up at the pro-Iranian protester site Tehran Dispatch:

I remember September 11, 2001. I remember watching TV all day worried and sad. I remember holding candlelight vigils with my friends for the victims. Then George W. Bush went on to declare us as one of the “Axis of Evil.” I remember asking myself, “Why?” Not a single one of the terrorists was Iranian, and I wondered why he didn’t bother to make a distinction between the government and the people. In fact, in all of the Middle East I don’t think there is a more pro-American nation than Iran, but no one made such a distinction. Consequently, the Iranian people were viewed with an aura of suspicion in every airport and embassy around the world for the rest of the Bush administration.

But all of that unfounded negative stereotyping came to an end when, in the aftermath of the elections, the nation stood up to the manipulative authorities and separated its account from that of the government. We shattered the stereotype with the amateur photos and videos taken with our own mobile phones. We captured the true picture of the Iranian nation and relayed it to the world, a picture of a young and highly educated nation yearning to be free.

George W. Bush's view of foreign policy was as simplistic as it was short-sighted. His shoot from the hip, "You're either with us or against us" reactionary statements made great soundbites for your average puffed-chest American jingoist but they also played right into the rhetorical hands of our savvier enemies. Bush saw change through an authoritarian lens, believing that the only way democracy could be spread was to have it imposed upon a resistant populace by a superior military force. President Obama has obviously and correctly taken a more measured, long-term approach to the current situation in Iran despite the growing cacophony from his critics on the right. He more than any other U.S. president in recent history understands the power of grassroots movements, of people standing up and demanding the change that they desire rather than being told what that change should be and how to achieve it.

And what would these hysterical chicken-hawks on the right have him do anyway? Sanction Iran even more? That's impossible, as we completely cut them off economically decades ago. Send in diplomatic officials or even U.S. troops to try to oversee the recount process and quell the violence against the protesters? That's naive, as such a move would just validate Ahmadinejad's thus far false claims of U.S. interference and after spending years in Iraq and Afghanistan we have nowhere near the number of troops necessary to do so with any effectiveness. Just go with the old standby plan for Middle Eastern countries and drop some bombs on their heads? That's supremely ironic, as the neoconservatives who are now upbraiding him for his supposed inaction in helping the protesters were the same people relentlessly calling for Bush to do just that to these same Iranian citizens before he left office last year.

Obama's wait and see attitude is just the right posture to take at this time in the face of Iranian uncertainty. The major players on both sides of this current situation were the same instigators of the 1979 Islamic Revolution and both sides are now using the same tactics from that same play book, and they both know this very well. It is a waiting game at this point and the worst thing the United States could do would be for our president to cockily swagger into the middle of this delicate detente and destabilize the situation without having any clue as to what kind of damage that would cause to either side. Obama knows this and it is his patience and even-handedness that we as a nation should be emulating at this moment. The era of cowboy diplomacy for the United States is now thankfully at an end, and in my opinion not a minute too soon.

No comments: