Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Obama, Siding With the Iranian Regime?

Neocon WaPo columnist Robert Kagan today tries to stick it to President Obama as a hypocrite for not coming out openly in support of the Moussavi movement as the Iran post-election cauldron bubbles. Kagan does make a good point in noting that what's happening now complicates Obama's strategy in regards to the Iranian nuclear program. But then he goes so far as to claim that "once Mousavi lost, however fairly or unfairly, Obama objectively had no use for him or his followers," and then goes on to claim that

Obama's policy now requires getting past the election controversies quickly so that he can soon begin negotiations with the reelected Ahmadinejad government. This will be difficult as long as opposition protests continue and the government appears to be either unsettled or too brutal to do business with. What Obama needs is a rapid return to peace and quiet in Iran, not continued ferment. His goal must be to deflate the opposition, not to encourage it. And that, by and large, is what he has been doing.

Agreed. But Kagan then goes on to put Obama squarely on the wrong side of history, and freedom, for that matter. That strikes me as a low blow. For Obama to come out squarely behind the Moussavi party puts a huge handful of arrows into the regime's quiver. As several experts with a sense of Iran's history have noted, Iranians of all political stripes tend to be hugely paranoid about intervention by outside parties into their politics. From the time of the Qajar dynasty of the 19th and early 20th centuries, through the reign of the Pahlavis, Iran suffered constant meddling from Britain, Russia, and the US - including, of course, the 1953 coup fomented by the CIA that brought down a popular prime minister and secured the reign of an oppressive shah.

Obama surely is aware of this history. Kagan, as an historian with several books to his credit, ought to be. Shame on him.

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