Commentary Magazine


We’ve Forgotten the Iranians

Remember this from Barack Obama?

The United States and the international community have been appalled and outraged by the threats, the beatings, and imprisonments of the last few days.  I strongly condemn these unjust actions…I’ve made it clear that the United States respects the sovereignty of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and is not interfering with Iran’s affairs.  But we must also bear witness…This is not about the United States or the West; this is about the people of Iran, and the future that they — and only they — will choose.

How quickly outrage dissipates. “The last few days” have stretched into more than a month of brutality and suppression, yet we’ve heard precious little from Barack Obama.

At the same time, Iranian protesters haven’t let up. During today’s Friday prayers at Tehran University “tens of thousands of government opponents” chanted, “freedom” and “death to the dictator.” They were then tear-gassed en masse by the regime’s riot police. For those who still think that “this is not a pro-West versus an anti-West competition in Iran,” as Gordon Brown said, consider this detail from today’s events:

When the hard-liners gave the traditional chant of “death to America,” Mousavi supporters countered with “death to Russia” and “death to China.”

It was a reference to Ahmadinejad’s alliance with both countries. Ahmadinejad has come under criticism in Iran for not criticizing Beijing over Muslim deaths in China’s western Xinjiang province.

Does Obama really want to form an alliance with Ahmadinejad? The Iranian people see through these cynical relationships and despise strong countries for enabling their tormenters. They aren’t afraid to stand up to Tehran and, pace Barack Obama, they’re setting the example the U.S. needs to follow.

Obama need not do anything that rises to the level of “meddling” in order to put the U.S. squarely on the side of Iran’s democrats. A new statement condemning the crackdown and calling for a second election would go a long way. The regime has lost the ability to deceive the people of Iran. This would be the very worst time to reach a “realist” arrangement with Tehran. A little outrage is in order once again.