Most of the criticism over Barack Obama’s lack of support for Iranians demanding political freedom and true self-determination has come from conservatives, leading some on the Left to jeer at the Right. That may be changing, though, as Obama continues to cling to the mullahs over the grassroots speaking some Truth to Power. John Nichols at The Nation, hardly a bastion of conservative thought, scolds Obama for his “disappointing” and “tepid” response to the Iranian crisis:
President Obama’s tepid response to the evidence the Iranian election was stolen from the people of that country by current president President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his thuggish allies is disappointing. …
The president says he entertains “deep concerns about the election” in Iran. Well, who doesn’t? Expressing concern is “nice,” it’s “diplomatic”–in the worst sense–but it is not sufficient to the circumstance, as Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are reportedly arguing within the White House. …
By every measure, the US president’s response has been less than that of other world leaders, especially French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has branded the announced election “result” a fraud and bluntly decried the government’s clampdown on dissent “brutal,” “totally disproportionate” and “extremely alarming.”
Obama’s apologists say that any expression of support for the US would undermine the protestors’ credibility. With whom? The mullahs? They already believe the protestors to be illegitimate, and they’re already blaming the US for the crisis. The mullahs have lost credibility with the people of Iran, which is the real credibility crisis — and Obama will lose credibility with the Iranian people if he continues to worry more about Ali Khamenei and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad than about the people demanding freedom.
Nichols points out that Obama has positioned himself successfully as the Not-Bush, especially internationally. That gives him greater credibility on the world stage to defend freedom, not less. Yet Obama has made himself and the US appear timid and frightened of Khamenei instead of using his bully pulpit and restored prestige to argue for liberty and support those demonstrating peacefully for it. Nichols doesn’t come out and say it explicitly, but George Bush would not have limited himself to expressing “deep concerns about the election,” and everyone knows it.
The Nation has discovered what we on the Right have argued for the last two years: Barack Obama would put America into retreat on the world stage, at the expense of freedom and to the benefit of dictators and kleptocrats around the world. This is just the latest example, and there will be more to come.