At yesterday’s State Department press conference, Spokesman Ian Kelly — who the day before had pointedly said he was unwilling to use the word “condemn” about events in Iran — said about the protesters killed that “of course, we condemn any acts of violence that led to the deaths of these demonstrators.”
His condemnation produced this colloquy:
QUESTION: Why are you not condemning more broadly any acts of violence against the demonstrators, period, not just those that happened to have led to deaths?
MR. KELLY: Yeah. That’s a fair question. And I would say that any use of violence against unarmed, peaceful demonstrators is unacceptable.
QUESTION: And something you condemn?
MR. KELLY: As I said before, I – we find this unacceptable. I’m not going to get into the semantics.
In other words, asked to “condemn” all acts of violence against demonstrators — not just deadly ones — Kelly was comfortable only with calling such acts “unacceptable.” Asked a second time to condemn them, he repeated his use of “unacceptable.” Actual condemnation was a bridge he was not prepared to cross.
The term “unacceptable” is the characterization Barack Obama has given to the Iranian pursuit of nuclear weapons. Assuming he is using that term in State Department parlance, it means he disagrees with Iran’s pursuit of such weapons but is not prepared to condemn them — unless, of course, someone is actually killed by them.
As he told the entire Muslim world, “No single nation should pick and choose which nation holds nuclear weapons.” That would be unacceptable.