While Iran continues to become unglued over the fraud in the most recent election, with more here, including the split among the mullahs Rafsanjani (one of the original revolutionaries from 1979) and leader Ayatollah Khamenei, the recriminations continue to play out within the Beltway between the grownups in charge and what passes for an opposition party (personified by U.S. House Rep Dana Rohrabacher, who said the following from here recently)…
Well I think that Mr. Obama, if he continues to have these types of attitudes, we’re going to see things get very bad, very quickly. Already the North Koreans have challenged him and realized that he’s a cream puff, if that is what he is indeed going to be as a President.… [N]ow if the Mullahs in Iran are permitted to just roll over opposition something like Tiananmen Square, we will have missed a great opportunity.(And by the way, Dana, I fixed the "Tiananmen" misspelling.)
And “A great opportunity” for what exactly, Dana? Nuclear war? Trading arms for hostages, as your former boss once did? Invading and trying to teach counterinsurgency to those who would later use those tactics against us, as you did with the Afghans in the 1980s?
And as noted here, Senator Huckleberry Graham said that Obama was “timid and passive more than I would like,” and Chuck Grassley saying that Obama was conveying the message that “we don’t care.”
Fortunately, Senator Richard Lugar echoed Obama’s caution (also saying here, correctly I think, that we should sit down with Iran for nuclear talks), and “Straight Talk” McCain said that, though he would’ve demanded a recount or more forcefully condemned the government crackdown, he “appreciate(d) the comments Obama made (Saturday).”
Also, I thought Helene Cooper of the New York Times made the following great points yesterday (here)…
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.We’ll see (and by the way, if you have access to New York Times' content, it should be noted that Roger Cohen has been doing some courageous, exemplary reporting on all of this - here is an example...and E.J. Dionne had some good stuff on this here).
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.
Mr. Obama seemed to be taking that kind of advice to heart last week — to a fault, perhaps, as even some Democratic allies said. He kept his remarks about the Iranian election so cool and detached that Republicans quickly attacked him as showing weakness in the defense of democracy.
On the other hand, he had already put in play a tool that the reformists could use in their internal debate — the notion that this could be the best time in many years in which to seek better relations with America.
Let us hope and pray that the Iranian vote is truly honored and that power is somehow loosed from the mullahs, if for no other reason than to honor the sacrifice of Neda Soltan, noted here.