Obama administration curiously uninterested in regime change in Iran

posted at 2:55 pm on March 31, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Over the last two months, Barack Obama has called for regime change in places where old foes ran dictatorships, such as Libya, and where American allies ran autocracies that suited us for decades, as in Egypt.  So far, though, the President hasn’t seen fit to call for regime change in countries where current foes brutally suppress dissent in similar or worse manners than in either country, such as Syria, where dictator Bashar Assad had his security forces open fire repeatedly on demonstrators.  According to the State Department, Obama won’t start with Iran, either:

Robert Einhorn, the State Department’s special adviser for nonproliferation and arms control, said Washington was not now directing its efforts toward changing the regime that governs Iran.

“We may not like this regime in Tehran — in fact, we don’t like this regime in Tehran — but we believe that this regime will be changed when Iranian people decide it needs to be changed, and by the Iranian people,” Einhorn said.

Einhorn said U.S. policy was aimed at changing Iran’s behavior concerning its nuclear activities, its human rights record, and what he described as Iranian support for terrorist groups.

At the New Republic, Abbas Milani wonders — where’s the outrage?

For 42 years, the world did business with Muammar Qaddafi, even as it knew about the brutality he was inflicting on his own people. Too often, there was no outrage in the West about Qaddafi’s crimes. Now, if the same pattern is not to be repeated in Iran, one must ask: Where is the outrage about that country’s endemic brutality and its kleptocratic theocracy? Specifically, where is the outrage about the fact that the four leading figures of the Green Movement—Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karubi, as well as their equally defiant wives, Zahra Rahnavard and Fateme Karubi—have been under arrest now for six weeks? While military intervention in Iran is not an option as it was in Libya, it would still be helpful and morally justified if the world didn’t forget about the serious crimes that are taking place there on a daily basis—and if American leaders showed more consistent outrage about the plight of the Iranian people.

Over the course of three decades, the Islamic Republic has unleashed a reign of terror on Iran, arresting tens of thousands, executing several thousand, and forcing some three million Iranians—including hundreds of journalists, writers, dissidents, scientists, physicians, scholars, and entrepreneurs—into forced exile. In 1988 alone, according to numerous credible reports, on direct order of Ayatollah Khomeini, close to 4,000 prisoners, serving time on earlier charges, were summarily executed in what was clearly a crime against humanity. If one adds up all the bloodshed and violence in Iran since 1979, there is hardly a regime in the Middle East, including Syria’s and Libya’s, that has shed as much blood and caused as much heartbreak to keep its despotic hold on power. The ruling regime in Iran—effectively at this point a partnership between Ayatollah Khamenei and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps—is literally and metaphorically getting away with murder.

Yet, in recent weeks, even as Tehran has put Green Movement leaders under house arrest and cracked down on protesters, developments around the world have helped it to escape scrutiny. There have been occasional exceptions to this pattern—such as a strong March 21 Persian New Year message from President Obama, in which he made clear that he stands with the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people—but, for the most part, the revolt in Egypt, the war in Libya, and the devastating earthquake in Japan have pushed Iran off the front pages. Moreover, the ill-advised Saudi incursion into Bahrain has provided the Iranian regime with an occasion to grandstand about siding with the democratic aspirations of the people there.

Milani’s sop to Obama aside, the President has hardly been visible on Iran at all.  In fact, even though Obama has mainly avoided talking about Syria, his administration at least has discussed the brutal repression in that country over the last few weeks.  He hasn’t even done that much with Iran, who rounded up its opposition quietly while the so-called Arab Spring captured attention all over the world.  The Persian New Year message was a one-off throwaway, for which the White House provided no follow-up.

Obama wants to preserve the lines of diplomacy in order to keep the possibility of talks open on Iran’s nuclear efforts.  Well, the lines of diplomacy were open in Cairo, where Obama could have assisted a US ally into a smooth transition that would have allowed sufficient time for opposition groups to form political parties and balance out the existing organization of the Muslim Brotherhood.  Egypt presented no threat to the US at all, and in fact provided a stabilizing presence in its detente with Israel.  Yet Obama had no trouble calling for the resignation of Hosni Mubarak and putting that detente at serious risk while refusing to challenge the mullahs of a country that represent a critical threat to the entire region.

Now we’re presently in a military conflict with another brutal dictator that didn’t threaten our security, according to Obama’s of Secretary of Defense, pursuing regime change in Libya while turning a blind eye to Iranian oppression in support of a two-year policy that has produced no results at all.  Outrage, indeed.


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Consistency

Kini on March 31, 2011 at 2:57 PM

I will side with my Muslim brothers.

retiredeagle on March 31, 2011 at 3:00 PM

“…we believe that this regime will be changed when Iranian people decide it needs to be changed, and by the Iranian people.”

So, why are we in Libya? If the Libyans want regime change, then have at it Libyans. It is your country. Take it.

(Same formula can work in 2012..here…at home.)

coldwarrior on March 31, 2011 at 3:00 PM

Who is more likely to help Egypt go to war with Israel? Iran or Libya?

capejasmine on March 31, 2011 at 3:00 PM

Obama administration curiously uninterested in regime change in Iran

 
Well sure. They figured that one would be hard.

rogerb on March 31, 2011 at 3:04 PM

Toy poodles don’t take on big dawgs?

a capella on March 31, 2011 at 3:04 PM

So far, though, the President hasn’t seen fit to call for regime change in countries where current foes brutally suppress dissent in similar or worse manners than in either country, such as Syria

Thanks, Ed. IMV, Øbama’s ‘inconsistencies’ in the ME need an explanation. Is there a common thread that could explain this mess?

The only thing that seems to make sense of it to me is that Øbama’s out to reconfigure the ME, stacking the deck against Israel.

(Also, some say he’s basically anti-Western. But we need not go there now.)

petefrt on March 31, 2011 at 3:08 PM

Neda ignored………Obama Doctrine

PappyD61 on March 31, 2011 at 3:09 PM

turns out that “rev” Wright was mislim, before he created a black theology church, where you can be a muslim member, which explains how they grandlietme achievement reward to faraccan and why they visited gadhaffi together. Google it.

anikol on March 31, 2011 at 3:10 PM

A good, solid B+

ornery_independent on March 31, 2011 at 3:11 PM

Why change a regime that fits Obama already?

He’s only interested in semi-secular ruler’s regime changes in the region.

Iran will lead the fight against the others, including with the nukes Obama encourages them to develop (much further along than what is known). Why would Iran cheer the Egypt fall? or the demonstrations in Yemen and Libya, while suppressing their own?

The Shia/Sunni war will be fought and the winner will go after the west, or they’ll draw the west in, in parallel.

In the meanwhile China, Russia, Brazil, Venezuela and Mexico will aid Iran too.

Obama will not enable democracy, he will enable the destruction of the west. He’s not the fool many assume him to be. His plans proceed apace and he’s happier than ever.

Schadenfreude on March 31, 2011 at 3:12 PM

I believe that when the stirrings toward r-word in Iran were first seen, Iran threatened little Bammie with trouble in Iraq and Afghanistan and Israel if we helped those opposed to Achmadickwad, and little Bammie caved.

slickwillie2001 on March 31, 2011 at 3:13 PM

Of course not, it would do nothing to level the playing field against israel. King of jordan on the other hand, wouldn’t bet on him sticking around forever.

abobo on March 31, 2011 at 3:14 PM

Manchurian flippin’ candidate…

HomeoftheBrave on March 31, 2011 at 3:16 PM

Donald Trump speculates that President Obama’s birth certificate may say he is a Muslim. Trump says there is something on his certificate that he does not want the public to see.

I’m not sure I’d want him as Prez, but I’m glad he has joined the conversation! Give ‘em hell Donald!

ornery_independent on March 31, 2011 at 3:17 PM

Ed, you may be onto the best description yet of O for his entire Presidency; “curiously uninterested.”

Done That on March 31, 2011 at 3:18 PM

He hasn’t even done that much with Iran, who rounded up its opposition quietly while the so-called Arab Swing captured attention all over the world.

The ‘w’ key is pretty far from the ‘p’ key, don’t you think?

Count to 10 on March 31, 2011 at 3:19 PM

We’re working on bridging a submissive relationship with al Qaeda at the moment in Libya. We can only befriend and submit to one evil entity st a time……golf season approacheth.

Hening on March 31, 2011 at 3:20 PM

At any rate, Libya is an ‘intervention of opportunity’ as far as the US is concerned. Low population, easily accessed from the Med, and with little to no international opposition. Pity P.BO waited until the Libyan support for the rebels had effectively dried up.

Count to 10 on March 31, 2011 at 3:23 PM

November 6, 2012. That’s regime change America can believe in.

Tommy_G on March 31, 2011 at 3:25 PM

It would have been better if the Bush administration AND the Obama administration would support the Green Revolution and get at the root of the problem in the Middle East instead of going after all these pissant regimes

400lb Gorilla on March 31, 2011 at 3:26 PM

The Obama Doctrine

“I support all people who seek freedom from fear, freedom from want, freedom from atrocity. Some I will support more than others.”

sdd on March 31, 2011 at 3:27 PM

George Bush Obowma hates black Persian people…

Seven Percent Solution on March 31, 2011 at 3:27 PM

He wasn’t supportive of the Iraq Invasion, either:

But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military is a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.

kingsjester on March 31, 2011 at 3:29 PM

The O’Barry regime is quite consistent.

He supports all regimes that hate America or Israel. Note that he refuses to call for the death of Q’Daffy?

NickDeringer on March 31, 2011 at 3:30 PM

Syria, where dictator Bashar Assad had his security forces open fire repeatedly on demonstrators.

Dictator Assad? Don’t you mean Great Reformer Assad?

AZCoyote on March 31, 2011 at 3:30 PM

Donald Trump: Obama Possibly A Muslim

/The proper attribution and link to RCP that I should have provided in my comment at 3:17pm.

ornery_independent on March 31, 2011 at 3:30 PM

Ed, you may be onto the best description yet of O for his entire Presidency; “curiously uninterested.”

Done That on March 31, 2011 at 3:18 PM

Just a ploy. He’s got his plans and proceeds apace to implement them.

Schadenfreude on March 31, 2011 at 3:32 PM

It’s not an Arab spring…it will be an icicly winter in no time, all proceeding according to big plans for the region.

Schadenfreude on March 31, 2011 at 3:33 PM

Best administration of incompetents evah!

GarandFan on March 31, 2011 at 3:33 PM

ObaMao is awaiting the arrival of the 12th imam and is doing all that he can with the blessing of Soros and the UN to hasten that day.

onlineanalyst on March 31, 2011 at 3:33 PM

I think what AP wrote about the Obama Doctrine a few days back is a pretty accurate description – he hates dictators, but will do regime change *only* when it can be done relatively cheaply. An effort for regime change in Libya is chump change compared to Iran (both with respect to human resources and financial). Personally, I am more of a libertarian bent – so I would prefer to have us use the least possible resources for waging wars in foreign nations. However, given that it is sometimes unavoidable, the “making war when it’s cheap” option works for me.

peter_griffin on March 31, 2011 at 3:37 PM

Schadenfreude on March 31, 2011 at 3:12 PM

This ^^^^

onlineanalyst on March 31, 2011 at 3:40 PM

Perhaps Obama thinks he is the 12th imam…

albill on March 31, 2011 at 3:54 PM

Neda died; Obama sighed.

marybel on March 31, 2011 at 4:02 PM

Winning the Future, one dictator strengthened at a time.

Be sure to appreciate Obama.

Schadenfreude on March 31, 2011 at 4:08 PM

It gets harder and harder to believe that all these destructive policies are happenstance acts of an incompetent. The odds against chance being consistent get more extreme as the number of chance events increase, ask a gambler…

Ø asks attorneys re approval of Congress on the Libyan kinetic whatever, which he then initiates, leaving for Brazil without asking Congress (at most just informing a few in Congress of his act). He waits what, 9 days, before addressing the American people. He still doesn’t ask Congress (our Reps, by extension the US citizen’s voice is of little interest to him either).

Given his focus on domestic change, and ‘curious disinterest’ in foreign affairs, might the presidential challenge to Congress’ strength be Ø’s primary agenda?

We all hope 2012 will be our ‘regime change’. I have seen posts predicting that Ø will either forestall the election, and/or massively cheat. I always thought those posts were nuts. But it keeps coming into my mind lately…

jodetoad on March 31, 2011 at 4:10 PM

Obama is a joke, but unfortunately the joke is on us.

bw222 on March 31, 2011 at 4:10 PM

Spring not so springy.

During a recent visit to Egypt, The Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens met with a friend he described as Muslim by birth but secular by choice. The friend and others told him that Americans have no idea of what is happening on the ground. Experts indeed remain innocents abroad. There is no progressive influence to speak of; the military and Islamist factions command the field. The Muslim Brotherhood is not the most extreme player, either.

Schadenfreude on March 31, 2011 at 4:14 PM

Manchurian President, Indeed. While I do not belive Obama is an Islamist (too narrow a world-view for someone so sophisticated as he considers himself to be), he is more than happy to use Islam to defeat the Imperialist West he so despises. His foreign policy will help create a ME-wide Islamic Caliphate, while his domestic energy policy will ensure that we have no ability to access our own petroleum reserves once that caliphate is in place. How do you suppose that will end up?

UndercoverInLA on March 31, 2011 at 4:31 PM

Is it possible that Obama is favoring one sect over another, ie, Shia vs Sunni?

sandspur on March 31, 2011 at 4:33 PM

If one adds up all the bloodshed and violence in Iran since 1979, there is hardly a regime in the Middle East, including Syria’s and Libya’s, that has shed as much blood and caused as much heartbreak to keep its despotic hold on power.

..including the deaths of our Soldiers.
Iran and the Afghan/Pakistan theater should be a top priority for any leader serious about addressing the threat of radical Islam…..
………….which is why Obama and his allies in the press have pretty much blacked out the Afghan war and sucked up to Ahmadinejad…..
……………they don’t take this threat seriously.

Obama’s attack on Libya while letting the Afghan war deteriorate and appeasing the Ahmadinejad’s of the world show how inept “smart power” is.
Wonder which elite liberal university will invite the murderous thug Ahmadenjad to speak next?????

Baxter Greene on March 31, 2011 at 4:53 PM

I’m no expert but it seems to me Obama goes after the ones that tend to be friendlier than A’jad, Assad and the rest. It’s almost like he wants to make US have a difficult time with any country in the middle east. Why in the hell he went into Libya will always be a mystery to me.

Herb on March 31, 2011 at 4:57 PM

Obama administration curiously uninterested in regime change in Iran reality.

Western_Civ on March 31, 2011 at 5:09 PM

I think the WH dithering began in earnest when Rahm left. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing.

rgeaste on March 31, 2011 at 5:09 PM

In fifteen years, should we last that long, all the brilliant intellectuals will be wondering how this country preoccupied itself with a man that it believed would pay their mortgages, and passively allowed a nation like Iran to gain nuclear weaponry. Just for the record, some of us did sound the warning.

paul1149 on March 31, 2011 at 5:16 PM

It makes sense that Obama doesn’t want regime change in Iran. Obama probably believes he is the 12th Imam.

eaglewingz08 on March 31, 2011 at 5:33 PM

sandspur on March 31, 2011 at 4:33 PM

Precisely. I’m willing to bet Shia.

Aside from familial history, O had many ‘interesting’ ties with (Shia) Rashid Khalidi. See here, here, and here. Remember the video of O and Khalidi the L.A. Times refused to release?

If you examine the leadership of Egypt (Mubarak clamped down on the Muslim Brotherhood), neighboring Libya (Ghaddafi clamped down on the Muslim Brotherhood), and Iran (Khomeini formed an early alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood), MB tentacles run deep. And while the MB was initially Sunni, over time it has spread its influence throughout traditionally Shia regimes. See here. If you scroll about half way down the page, the MB’s history in all ME and N. African countries is described.

In my opinion, the MB is on the march for the Caliphate. Iran is already well down the road with nuclear weapon development, terror support and targeting Israel. Obama’s only helping those regimes which need a nudge toward more fundamental Islamic positions. Given O’s policie(s) to date in Libya, I don’t think he has the ultimate goal of dislodging Daffy, but the ‘squirmish’ does bring jihadis to the region from Afghanistan, N. Africa, etc. That would be of benefit if the objective is to wipe Israel off the map and destabilize those regimes which were either somewhat supportive of U.S./Israeli policies (Mubarak), or under control vis a vis threats to the U.S. (Daffy).

The MB ties most of the fundie terror groups together. The fact that they are not on our designated watch list is not only appalling but frightening as well. See this overview of the MB in the U.S.

Camel, thy name is Obama. Unfortunately he’s fully in our tent.

Opinionator on March 31, 2011 at 5:48 PM

Obama 2008: ‘We are the people we have been waiting for!’

Obama 2009-2011 on Iran: ‘These are the dictators we adore!’

ajacksonian on March 31, 2011 at 7:56 PM

eaglewingz08 on March 31, 2011 at 5:33 PM

12th Imam is pretty much the same as the AntiChrist…

Now wouldn’t that be a bummer if Obama turned out to be the actual AntiChrist, and that Mayan prediction that December 2012 would be the end of it all was correct?

I had expected something a bit, well, better, for an AntiChrist, really.

coldwarrior on March 31, 2011 at 8:03 PM

12th Imam is pretty much the same as the AntiChrist…

Now wouldn’t that be a bummer if Obama turned out to be the actual AntiChrist, and that Mayan prediction that December 2012 would be the end of it all was correct?

I had expected something a bit, well, better, for an AntiChrist, really.

coldwarrior on March 31, 2011 at 8:03 PM

Not a chance, we don’t know that much about the Antichrist, but we do know that he is supposed to be absolutely brilliant, a world-class genius. Little Bammie is a world-class idiot, and ignorant to boot.

slickwillie2001 on March 31, 2011 at 8:29 PM

coldwarrior on March 31, 2011 at 8:03 PM

Why do we have to get the STUPID Anti-Christ?

Don’t we even rate a mediocre one?

ajacksonian on March 31, 2011 at 8:51 PM

Opinionator on March 31, 2011 at 5:48 PM

Wow. Somehow the second and third links I provided re Khalidi morphed into something I didn’t cite at all.

They are (you’ll see them at the end of the above citations if you scroll over): militantislammonitor.org/id/3602 and
campus-watch.org/id/5504.

Dang that was spooooky…….. 12th Imamist spooky.

If you read all the cites I included in my above post, you’ll get a real flavor for the Islamic web we’re dealing with. . . which Barry clearly, ‘transparently’ supports, even contravening the War Powers Act and acting outside the Constitution and law (again) in the process.

Who will stop him?

I have great confidence in who will.

Opinionator on April 1, 2011 at 3:10 AM