I still struggle to see the downside in speaking out. If we speak out, what would change tomorrow that doesn’t already exist today? The Iranian government- largely discredited in the eyes of the world- would say “The Americans are behind the opposition” and… well, what? Shoot protesters? Shut down the universities? Stop re-counting their rigged outcomes? Not negotiate with us about nuclear weapons?
And what do we have to gain by staying silent? The opposition loses and we spend another decade tussling over “what ifs” until the opposition rises again (or if they do). The opposition wins and gains power and gives no thanks to us, because we stayed silent.
If it was true that Americans speaking up discredits the people we speak for, the best thing we could do is internationally announce that we recognize the outcome of the Iranian elections and call Ahmadinejad to congratulate him on his solid victory. But no one is seriously calling for that — why? Because if we speak up on behalf of Iran, that provides the legitimacy for the regime to smash the protesters. And if we speak up for the protesters, *that* discredits the protesters and empowers the regime to smash them. Is every outcome for America advocating freedom on behalf of the oppressed truly a setback for freedom globally? The freest nation on earth must be quiet? Even then silence would only become proof of our perfidiousness.
Somehow, it seems the idea that “if America shuts up, the protesters will be empowered” seems more and more like a ruse apologetic originated by backers of the Iranian theocracy that has wheedled its way into the western conscience, than an actual rational strategy. It’s time we realize that the people who want to hate us, will hate us, no matter what we do. We need to give a reason for the right people to admire us, and we do not gain the admiration of the noble by remaining silent like cowards.