White House: Cairo speech inspired the Iran uprising

posted at 9:28 am on June 23, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

No, I’m really not kidding about this.  The Washington Post has the story:

But Obama’s shades-of-gray approach rejects comparison to an era when Communist bloc dissidents had virtually no access to the Western media and the world was more neatly divided between a pair of superpowers, not complicated by the set of ambitious regional powers such as Iran that the Obama administration is seeking to manage.

Since taking office, Obama has argued that reclaiming America’s moral authority by ending torture and closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay provides essential diplomatic leverage to influence events in such strategic parts of the world as the Middle East and Central Asia. The speech he delivered to the Islamic world in Cairo eights days before the June 12 Iranian election sought to do that by providing what the president saw as an unvarnished accounting of U.S. policy in Iran, Iraq, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“We’re trying to promote a foreign policy that advances our interests, not that makes us feel good about ourselves,” said a senior administration official who, like others, declined to be identified, citing the sensitivity of the issue.

Obama’s approach to Iran, including his assertion that the unrest there represents a debate among Iranians unrelated to the United States, is an acknowledgment that a U.S. president’s words have a limited ability to alter foreign events in real time and could do more harm than good. But privately Obama advisers are crediting his Cairo speech for inspiring the protesters, especially the young ones, who are now posing the most direct challenge to the republic’s Islamic authority in its 30-year history.

This is the most despicable, self-serving, and arrogant spin I’ve seen yet from this White House, and that’s saying something.  Obama gave a speech, and suddenly the people of Iran discovered that they’re being ruled by tyrants?  Never mind that two weeks passed between the speech and the uprising, and that the very obvious trigger for the unrest was the incompetent manner in which the mullahs rigged the election for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  Never mind the fact that this President took a full week to even sound like a watered-down Nicolas Sarkozy, let alone the leader of the free world.

This is very obviously an attempt at damage control.  Obama has gotten hammered for staying behind the curve of Western leaders in the defense of liberty, freedom, and human rights.  He has preferred to stay on the sidelines in the hope that silence will make the mullahs like him enough to grant him an audience, while Sarkozy, Angela Merkel, and the Brits slam the mullahcracy for its brutal treatment of political opposition.  Now, suddenly, Obama wants to claim credit for getting their first with his Cairo speech — which had nothing to do with overthrowing mullahs, and in fact had only a passing mention of democracy as an official US policy in the Middle East.

On the grand scale of things, I’d say that the establishment of democracy in Iraq had more influence on the Iranians than anything Obama’s managed to say, and I wouldn’t go so far to make it a proximate cause, or much more than a tertiary influence, after the stolen election and decades of repression by the mullahs.

Besides, how impressed do you think Iranians are with Obama’s open invitation to the mullahs for a 4th of July BBQ?  Think that inspires them to demand liberty?

Despicable, and shame on the Washington Post for not calling them on it.

Update: I meant to write two weeks, not two months, between the Cairo speech (6/4) and the uprising.  It’s fixed.

Update II: Jim Geraghty makes a great point:

Remember how it was important to recognize that these protests in Iran were triggered by ordinary Iranians’ response to the election, and it was important for the U.S. government to be quiet, soft-spoken, and understated in its response to evolving events? Remember when the most important thing was that the Iranians, and the world, conclude that this uprising was generated entirely by internal sources?

Yeah, apparently that’s no longer the case.

So now can we get a full-throated cry of support for freedom and liberty from the supposed leader of the Free World?

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The best thing Obama can do right now is to let the Iranian ruling elite bring shame and disrepute on themselves, and the easiest way to do that is to watch from the sidelines.

Where the hell have you been for the last 30 years? The mullahs have been doing exactly that with impunity. They need to be called on their terrorism. Obama talks about the Iranians seeking Justice- a goal which is elusive and barely attainable even in the most advanced countries. The Iranians are not seeking Justice but basic huuman rights.

Obama is a cowardly fool.

Basilsbest on June 23, 2009 at 6:34 PM

I sent you this GWB quote last night and posted it in a couple of other threads — sorry if it is overkill, but I can’t believe no one is picking up on it, especially now that The One is claiming credit for the victory in a battle he was willing to pull out of.

“In Iran the demand for democracy is strong and broad … The regime in Tehran must heed the democratic demands of the Iranian people, or lose its last claim to legitimacy.”
George W. Bush 2003

LifeTrek on June 23, 2009 at 6:56 PM

Barry needs to find a way to spin Iran to his advantage

He has!

“In what appeared to be a coordinated exchange, President Obama called on the Huffington Post’s Nico Pitney near the start of his press conference and requested a question directly about Iran”

Huffpost New Slogan!

We put the “Banana” in Obama’s Republic!

DSchoen on June 23, 2009 at 7:41 PM

“Iraqi democracy will succeed — and that success will send forth the news, from Damascus to Teheran — that freedom can be the future of every nation. The establishment of a free Iraq at the heart of the Middle East will be a watershed event in the global democratic revolution. “

George W. Bush, discussing the effects of a victory in Iraq, November 6, 2003

LifeTrek on June 23, 2009 at 8:42 PM

LifeTrek on June 23, 2009 at 8:42 PM

Nice catch. Clearly the wisdom of his words in 2003 have lost their appeal over the last 6 years. Even conservatives have been affected by the relentless assault on the truth.

csdeven on June 23, 2009 at 9:19 PM

Obama????? Inspire the Iranian people????

Obama’s comments regarding the protests over the Iranian elections have been at best lukewarm and at worst catastrophic. Since his “advisors” can’t point to anything he’s said directly, they harken back to his Cairo speech. Guys, here’s a tip, better read that Cairo speech again.

Remember this little tidbit?

We will, however, relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security. Because we reject the same thing that people of all faiths reject: the killing of innocent men, women, and children.

Relentless!!!! Yeah, that’s how I would describe his recent statements about Iran.

gordo on June 24, 2009 at 2:47 AM

Lie after lie after lie after lie……..

MaiDee on June 24, 2009 at 8:36 AM

Right his speech not years of sanctions led by the Bush Administration to put domestic economic pressure on the Iranian leadership…sure that’s how it happened cue the unicorns :)

Dr Evil on June 24, 2009 at 11:02 AM

LifeTrek on June 23, 2009 at 8:42 PM


Obama deserves ZERO credit. The uprising in Iran, was inspired by the Iraq war.

Removing Sadam from power made Gaddafi voluntarily abandon his race for nuclear weapons, it made Egypt push for democratic elections, it inspired the people in Lebanon and it most definitely inspired the Iraqis’ next-door neighbors.

I hope history will give George Bush the credit. BTW. He has also changed Africa for the better, not many people know that because no one bothered to tell this amazing story.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/africa/article3510768.ece by Sir Bob Geldof

The Bush regime has been divisive. But not in Africa. I read it has been incompetent. But not in Africa. It has created bitterness. But not here in Africa. Bush can’t do oratory. He can in Africa. Here’s why. His administration has saved millions of lives and has helped 29m children to go to school for the first time.

Bush initiated the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief. In 2003, only 50,000 Africans were on HIV antiretroviral drugs – and they had to pay for their own medicine. Today, 1.3m are receiving medicines free of charge. The US also contributes one-third of the money for the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which treats another 1.5m.

And on his seven-day trip through Africa, Bush announced a fantastic new $350m fund for other tropical diseases that can be easily eradicated; a programme to distribute 5.2m mosquito nets to Tanza-nian kids; and contracts worth around $1.2 billion in Tanzania and Ghana from the Millennium Challenge Account, a Bush initiative that focuses on anticorruption, law, infrastructure and poverty reduction programmes.

Michelle Dubois on June 24, 2009 at 11:52 AM

Ok, so you HAVE to hear this…

I was chatting to a massage Therapist friend of mine who LOVES BHO. She was telling me that he is god’s last gift before the apocalypse in Dec 2012.
She believes that BHO MUST BE RE-ELECTED so Palin will not get elected and bring The End of Days to us. She said that there will be legal troubles that will finally decide the election on the winter Solstice in 2012, the year the Mayan calendars ended.
Isn’t that a great story for a movie? Sadly she appeared to believe it…

IanTrouble on June 24, 2009 at 2:08 PM