Commentary Magazine


Bearing Witness

James Taranto zeroes in on Obama’s comments about “bearing witness” to the events in Iran and makes an excellent suggestion:

A regime that takes foreign diplomats hostage, uses children in combat, threatens to wipe another country off the map, and uses terrorist tactics against its countrymen has shown its determination to flout international norms.

“We must . . . bear witness,” says Obama. This entails acknowledging evil as well as celebrating the courage of genuine martyrs like Neda. Obama could do a lot of good simply by giving a speech describing the Iranian regime’s departures from international norms starting in 1979. In the process, he might even learn something himself.

Indeed, Obama is all about “honesty” and talking tough to those who prefer only their own circumscribed set of facts. So why not a speech, not to the mullahs as he did for al-Arabiya, but to the Iranian people? Tell them we know and understand the suffering of living under tyranny and want to draw them out of isolation, terror, brutality, and economic ruin, and into the family of nations.

After all, if the Cairo speech,  as the Obama team now tells us, begot the Lebanese elections, maybe a speech from another capital where democracy now flourishes in the Middle East — say, Baghdad — might make for some powerful TV. If they get real elections in Iraq with multiple parties, full campaigns, and no pre-screened candidates, why should they get any less in Iran?