Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Re: A Rude Iranian Awakening

Pete, let’s hope the president is getting up to speed on the nature of the Iranian regime and coming to terms with just how far-fetched his plan to “engage” is. With Germany’s Angela Merkel by his side, he voiced, albeit in hyper-multilateral terms, his condemnation of the regime and even seemed aware that “engagement” might not be in the offing:

In Washington, President Obama accused Tehran of violating “universal norms, international norms,” and saying that the bravery of the Iranian people is “a testament to their enduring pursuit of justice.”

“The violence perpetrated against them is outrageous,” the president said, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel by his side. “And despite the government’s efforts to keep the world from bearing witness to that violence, we see it, and we condemn it.”

The president also conceded that the crackdown would complicate his plans to have a dialogue with Tehran, saying:

“There is no doubt that any direct dialogue or diplomacy with Iran is going to be affected by the events of the last several weeks.”

And perhaps we’ve seen the end of the apologies for a while:

Internationally, European countries were the first to criticize the authorities’ handling of the protests but President Obama, initially cautious, has issued ever more critical comments, drawing a taunt from Mr. Ahmadinejad on Thursday that he sounded like former President George W. Bush and should apologize.

At the news conference on Friday, President Obama dismissed Mr. Ahmadinejad’s gibe. “I don’t take Mr. Ahmadinejad’s statements seriously about apologies, particularly given the fact that the United States has gone out of its way not to interfere with the election process in Iran,” he said. “And I’m really not concerned about Mr. Ahmadinejad apologizing to me.”

Rather, Mr. Obama said, the Iranian president should “think carefully about the obligations he owes to his own people. And he might want to consider looking at the families of those who’ve been beaten or shot or detained.”

Hmmm. Not bad at all. The next test will be what the president does and not simply what he says. There is a petroleum sanctions measure gaining sponsors in Congress. And now might be a good time to assess whether Iran is in compliance with those international norms the president is fond of citing. If it is not, is he prepared to take economic and diplomatic action against the mullahs? Well, that might take more than a tutorial. We might witness a presidential crash course in Iranian policy.