Great op-ed by a brilliant man…
By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, June 19, 2009
Millions of Iranians take to the streets to defy a theocratic dictatorship that, among its other finer qualities, is a self-declared enemy of America and the tolerance and liberties it represents. The demonstrators are fighting on their own, but they await just a word that America is on their side.
And what do they hear from the president of the United States? Silence. Then, worse. Three days in, the president makes clear his policy: continued “dialogue” with their clerical masters.
Dialogue with a regime that is breaking heads, shooting demonstrators, expelling journalists, arresting activists. Engagement with — which inevitably confers legitimacy upon — leaders elected in a process that begins as a sham (only four handpicked candidates permitted out of 476) and ends in overt rigging.
Then, after treating this popular revolution as an inconvenience to the real business of Obama-Khamenei negotiations, the president speaks favorably of “some initial reaction from the Supreme Leader that indicates he understands the Iranian people have deep concerns about the election.”
Where to begin? “Supreme Leader”? Note the abject solicitousness with which the American president confers this honorific on a clerical dictator who, even as his minions attack demonstrators, offers to examine some returns in some electoral districts — a farcical fix that will do nothing to alter the fraudulence of the election.
This started out about election fraud. But like all revolutions, it has far outgrown its origins. What’s at stake now is the very legitimacy of this regime — and the future of the entire Middle East.
This revolution will end either as a Tiananmen (a hot Tiananmen with massive and bloody repression or a cold Tiananmen with a finer mix of brutality and co-optation) or as a true revolution that brings down the Islamic Republic.
All hangs in the balance. The Khamenei regime is deciding whether to do a Tiananmen. And what side is the Obama administration taking? None. Except for the desire that this “vigorous debate” (press secretary Robert Gibbs’s disgraceful euphemism) over election “irregularities” not stand in the way of U.S.-Iranian engagement on nuclear weapons.
Even from the narrow perspective of the nuclear issue, the administration’s geopolitical calculus is absurd. There is zero chance that any such talks will denuclearize Iran. On Monday, President Ahmadinejad declared yet again that the nuclear “file is shut, forever.” The only hope for a resolution of the nuclear question is regime change, which (if the successor regime were as moderate as pre-Khomeini Iran) might either stop the program, or make it manageable and nonthreatening.
That’s our fundamental interest. And our fundamental values demand that America stand with demonstrators opposing a regime that is the antithesis of all we believe.
And where is our president? Afraid of “meddling.” Afraid to take sides between the head-breaking, women-shackling exporters of terror — and the people in the street yearning to breathe free. This from a president who fancies himself the restorer of America’s moral standing in the world.
Tags: Charles Krauthammer