“All states have the right to urge Iran to respect human rights”
posted at 3:55 pm on June 18, 2009 by Ed Morrissey
Barack Obama faces growing criticism, even within his administration, over the weak response offered thus far to the Iranian protestors filling the streets and demanding democracy and accountability:
Even while supporting the president’s approach, senior members of the administration, including Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, would like to strike a stronger tone in support of the protesters, administration officials said.
Other White House officials have counseled a more cautious approach, saying harsh criticism of the government or endorsement of the protests could have the paradoxical effect of discrediting the protesters and making them seem as if they were led by Americans. So far, Mr. Obama has largely followed that script, criticizing violence against the protesters, but saying that he does not want to be seen as meddling in Iranian domestic politics. …
But several administration officials acknowledged that Mr. Obama might run the risk of coming across on the wrong side of history at a potentially transformative moment in Iran.
Obama worries about alienating the oppressors while Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and others worry about alienating the next generation of Iranian leadership:
The political unrest in Iran presents the Obama administration with a dilemma: keep quiet to pursue a nuclear deal with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country’s supreme leader, or heed calls to respond more supportively to the protesters there — and risk alienating the Shiite cleric.
President Obama and his advisers have struggled to strike the right tone, carefully calibrating positive messages about the protests in an effort to avoid giving the government in Tehran an excuse to portray the demonstrators as pro-American. Nevertheless, the Iranian Foreign Ministry yesterday summoned the Swiss ambassador, who represents American interests in Tehran, to complain of “interventionist” comments by U.S. officials, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
Even the Europeans appear to be frustrated by this pose of neutrality at a moment of opportunity. Guess who wrote the following:
“However different the motivations are for the hundreds of thousands of people ignoring Iran’s ban on protests, one point is clear: The mass protests hinge on the accusation of electoral fraud, and that, in turn, is related to basic human rights. The Mullah regime’s retort that outsiders are meddling in the internal affairs of a sovereign state simply does not hold. Rather, all states have the right — and the responsibility — to urge Iran to respect human rights. That’s the theory, at least. …
[I]t is essential that governments of democratic states comment in the case of Iran. Experience shows that even regimes which appear to have cut themselves off internationally, are still affected by intervention regarding human rights. It is possible to trade with a country and retain an effective stance on human rights. The all-or-nothing point of view is not fruitful.”
Hint: It wasn’t the Right-leaning Telegraph in Britain. Der Spiegel reprinted it from the left-leaning Tageszeitung in Germany. The newspaper rips Chancellor Angela Merkel for the naiveté of her response, despite taking a much stronger stand than Obama:
“However, it can’t be said that the German government intervened diplomatically early-on in regards to Iran. The reaction of the security forces towards the demonstrators was, quite rightly, criticized in the international press. But the German chancellor’s reaction revealed an amusing degree of naivety when she demanded that the charges will be dealt with by the ‘relevant authorities,’ quickly and thoroughly. German Chancellor Angela Merkel clearly doesn’t want to know who is responsible within these ‘relevant authorities,’ namely the Iranian Guardian Council.”
That’s the same Guardian Council and Supreme Leader with whom Obama wants to maintain “credibility”.