From the president’s press conference with the president of South Korea today:
“It’s not productive, given the history of U.S.-Iranian relations, to be seen as meddling … in Iranian elections,” Obama said. “What I will repeat, and what I said yesterday, is when I see violence directed at peaceful protesters, when I see peaceful dissent being suppressed … it is of concern to me and it is of concern to the American people. That is not how governments should interact with their people, and it is my hope the Iranian people will make the right steps in order for them to be able to express their voices.”
President Nicolas Sarkozy sees things differently:
But while some governments tried to avoid taking sides, Sarkozy said the unrest was a direct result of Ahmadinejad’s failings in his first term.
“The extent of the fraud is proportional to the violent reaction,” said the French leader.
“It is a tragedy, but it is not negative to have a real opinion movement that tries to break its chains,” Sarkozy said.
“If Ahmadinejad has really made progress since the last election and if he really represents two thirds of the electorate… why has this violence erupted?”
The French president sees no problem with aligning himself clearly with the protesters and calling the mullahs out for their fraud and thuggery. Yet the U.S. President is tongue-tied.
It seems odd that the man who talks to the “Muslim World” and is convinced that he, by the very force of his personality, can engage not just countries but entire religions feels so constrained. Has he bought into the Left’s self-hating propaganda that America is so loathed it can only delegitimize the protesters by association? That doesn’t seem to mesh with last week’s propaganda — that the election in Lebanon was attributable to the Obama Effect. So which is it — is he powerless over events or is he all-powerful?
To say this is incoherent would be an understatement. The president once again seems to be tying himself in rhetorical knots to avoid offending the mullahs, whom he suspects may hold the cards when the dust settles. It seems a peculiar strategy for a man who devotes himself to soft-power. One would think that if he is going to take off the table a military option for Iran, he would employ other strategies calculated to protect Americans and our allies. Missile defense to deter a nuclear program? Nope. Regime change to disrupt the dangerous theocracy through measures short of war? Nope.
So what is the game plan for Iran? Ah — he’s going to rely on words of engagement. But those words are reserved for the mullahs — not the people of Iran, it seems.