And what about other pro-democracy dissidents abroad — whether in Cuba, the Arab world, or Venezuela? Will they still trust that the U.S. supports their efforts to obtain a free society?

Meanwhile, authoritarians in China, North Korea, Russia, the Middle East, and South America may draw two unfair and unfortunate conclusions. One, the United States does not care much what other regimes do to their own people. Two, a new America will overlook almost anything in order just to get along with these authoritarians…

In contrast, had President Obama voiced early, consistent, and sharp criticism of the Iranian crackdown, the theocracy would have worried that the president’s stature could have galvanized global boycotts and embargos to isolate the theocracy and aid the dissidents. And the reformers in the streets could have become even more confident with a trademark Obama “hope and change” endorsement.

Internal democratic change in Iran is the only peaceful solution to stopping an Iranian bomb, three decades of Iranian-sponsored terrorism, and a Middle East arms race. When thousands risked their lives for a better Iran, a better Middle East, and a better world, we, the land of the free, simply were not with them.