Childhood’s End, Mr. Obama
The Obama administration is struggling to make a decision regarding the uprising in Iran, and the situation is changing moment by moment. On the one hand, the President has spoken eloquently about reaching out to the present Iranian regime, and hoping for an unclenched hand in return; on the other hand, the Iranian citizens in the streets seem to be asking for a real democratic regime in Iran.
Here’s the rub: The President wants to solve the Iranian nuclear problem, and thinks he must deal with the present regime to do it. He has spent a great deal of effort and good will; and taken major hits for stating he would reach out to these Iranian thugs thinking he has a chance to resolve the issue. The problem is that this effort is getting confused by all those people in the streets demonstrating for democracy. That’s why the President has been reluctant to speak in support of them – they are messing up his plans for nuclear reform in Iran.
The uprisings do bring an uncertainty to the situation: will the present regime force them from the streets and bring a rigid end to the demonstrations, or will the government be forced to make some real democratic changes? It appears at least that the demonstrations have severely weakened the present regime. Consider:
Iranian military has not been brought to bear on the demonstrators; instead the government has been using elements of the Revolutionary Guard and the Basij – the Persian version of the ‘Brown Shirts’ to quell the activity. Some think that the military may be reluctant to use its force against Iranian citizens. Recall that when Gorbachev tried to use the Soviet military against Russian citizens, they refused to cooperate and Boris Yeltsin got up on a tank, and declared communism dead. But remember Tiananmen Square when the Chinese military was prepared to fire on Chinese citizens and put down the democratic movement. It is not clear which way the Iranian military may be inclined to go as yet but it probably will be the determining factor in this situation. Something very big is going on in Iran and it is unclear what the outcome will be.
Mr. Obama’s path to negotiation is not as clear at this point. Apparently he thinks that the Ahmadinejad regime is a bird in the hand, and citizens demonstrating for democracy are the two in the bush. This is a fateful decision for the Obama Administration: give moral support to the demonstrators and risk supporting the loser, or leave them to the wolves and be seen as not in support of any reform in Iran because you think you can solve the nuclear problem.
For us, the risk is whether or not Iran will be nuclear armed, whether or not their disposition will remain that we are the ‘Great Satan;’ and whether or not Israel will become a radioactive wasteland. The stakes cannot be higher. Running for office is much easier than governing. It’s childhood’s end, Mr. Obama.