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2009: The year of living fecklessly

Say what you want about Krauthammer but he is absoulutely correct in what he says about Obama and Iran.  People were dying in the streets.  They were tortured, raped and murdered and Obama remained silent.  He said nothing and stressed that he didn’t want to meddle.  Well, fuck him.  Hillary would have known what to say and she would have said it.  Fuck you, Obama. Hillary 2012.

On Tuesday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did not just reject President Obama’s latest feckless floating nuclear deadline. He spat on it, declaring that Iran “will continue resisting” until the United States has gotten rid of its 8,000 nuclear warheads.

So ends 2009, the year of “engagement,” of the extended hand, of the gratuitous apology — and of spinning centrifuges, two-stage rockets and a secret enrichment facility that brought Iran materially closer to becoming a nuclear power.

We lost a year. But it was not just any year. It was a year of spectacularly squandered opportunity. In Iran, it was a year of revolution, beginning with a contested election and culminating this week in huge demonstrations mourning the death of the dissident Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri — and demanding no longer a recount of the stolen election but the overthrow of the clerical dictatorship.

Obama responded by distancing himself from this new birth of freedom. First, scandalous silence. Then, a few grudging words. Then relentless engagement with the murderous regime. With offer after offer, gesture after gesture — to not Iran, but the “Islamic Republic of Iran,” as Obama ever so respectfully called these clerical fascists — the United States conferred legitimacy on a regime desperate to regain it.

Why is this so important? Because revolutions succeed at that singular moment, that imperceptible historical inflection, when the people, and particularly those in power, realize that the regime has lost the mandate of heaven. With this weakening dictatorship desperate for affirmation, why is the United States repeatedly offering just such affirmation?

Apart from ostracizing and delegitimizing these gangsters, we should be encouraging and reinforcing the demonstrators. This is no trivial matter. When pursued, beaten, arrested and imprisoned, dissidents can easily succumb to feelings of despair and isolation. Natan Sharansky testifies to the electric effect Ronald Reagan’s Evil Empire speech had on lifting spirits in the gulag. The news was spread cell to cell in code tapped on the walls. They knew they weren’t alone, that America was committed to their cause.

Yet so aloof has Obama been that on Hate America Day (Nov. 4, the anniversary of the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran), pro-American counter-demonstrators chanted, “Obama, Obama, you are either with us or with them,” i.e., their oppressors.

Such cool indifference is more than a betrayal of our values. It’s a strategic blunder of the first order.

Forget about human rights. Assume you care only about the nuclear issue. How to defuse it? Negotiations are going nowhere, and whatever U.N. sanctions we might get will be weak, partial, grudging and late. The only real hope is regime change. The revered and widely supported Montazeri had actually issued a fatwa against nuclear weapons.

And even if a successor government were to act otherwise, the nuclear threat would be highly attenuated because it’s not the weapon but the regime that creates the danger. (Think India or Britain, for example.) Any proliferation is troubling, but a nonaggressive pro-Western Tehran would completely change the strategic equation and make the threat minimal and manageable.

What should we do? Pressure from without — cutting off gasoline supplies, for example — to complement and reinforce pressure from within. The pressure should be aimed not at changing the current regime’s nuclear policy — that will never happen — but at helping change the regime itself.

Give the kind of covert support to assist dissident communication and circumvent censorship that, for example, we gave Solidarity in Poland during the 1980s. (In those days that meant broadcasting equipment and copying machines.) But of equal importance is robust rhetorical and diplomatic support from the very highest level: full-throated denunciation of the regime’s savagery and persecution. In detail — highlighting cases, the way Western leaders adopted the causes of Sharansky and Andrei Sakharov during the rise of the dissident movement that helped bring down the Soviet empire.

Will this revolution succeed? The odds are long but the reward immense. Its ripple effects would extend from Afghanistan to Iraq (in both conflicts, Iran actively supports insurgents who have long been killing Americans and their allies) to Lebanon and Gaza where Iran’s proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas, are arming for war.

One way or the other, Iran will dominate 2010. Either there will be an Israeli attack or Iran will arrive at — or cross — the nuclear threshold. Unless revolution intervenes. Which is why to fail to do everything in our power to support this popular revolt is unforgivable.

Read it here.


5 Responses

  1. “We lost a year. But it was not just any year. It was a year of spectacularly squandered opportunity. In Iran…”

    And may I just add “in Health Care.”

    “Spectacularly squandered” is the way I will remember 2009.

  2. It’s just such a shame, SYD. We could have all been so much better off if the Dims hadn’t knee capped the best candidate EVAH.

  3. terrific post!

  4. This article by Charles Krauthmmar is indicating a defeated mentality and one-sided approach. The learned author belongs to the bygone era of Bush-regime and ideologically hails from the camp of neo-cons. He has no sympathy for the peace-iniatives of Obama and does not believe in the meaningful dialogue. He is even contemptuous for Obama on using the phrase,” Islamic Republic of Iran”. Just look at his words that He spat on it and another year was lost.
    According to him, peaceful negotiation is a loss and waste of time, simultaneously he is obsessed with nuclear capability of Iran plus being afraid of its preparations for war. He has raised the alarm of Hizbollah and Hamas as well, paying no heed to the atrocities of Israel and plight of the Palestinians. He has also suggested that USA should support the political unrest in Iran. He is in favor of a pre-emptive Israeli strike on Iran lest it becomes a nuclear power. Such authors with fear and hatred techniques are the real war-mongers who do not let the statesmen to opt for saner choices.
    The columnist is of the view that USA should not waste more time with Gangsters, that is the ruling clerics of Iran, rather should encourage the dissidents. He means to fuel the protests in Iran sparking after the death of Ayatollah Montazeri led by defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossain Mousavi. he quotes the examples of past, especially when USA covertly supported Solidarity in Poland in order to destabilize communist bloc specially Soviet set-up. He has suggested that Iranian dissident should be backed in the same manner to get rid of ruling people.
    In short, the columnist lacks journalistic ethics and devoid of diplomatic norms. It is a third rate or C class piece of writing in which USA has been encouraged to give up all the decent political ways and opt for war, interference and other such methods which have already brought it to ruin in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now the learned author wishes to throw it in another quagmire of the same sort.

  5. […] Puma-SF on the Year of Living Fecklessly. […]

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