Whether Obama’s approach is vindicated or not, and that will depend on which criterion for judging success is applied, it does reveal the indifference to human rights that is at the core of the realist school of foreign policy.
Prior to the outbreak of the mass protests, Obama was extending a cordial invitation to the leaders of the Iranian regime to engage in diplomatic parley. This, notwithstanding the unambiguous evidence of widespread violations of basic human rights perpetrated by Ahmadinejad. This move certainly did not evince any regard for the innocent victims of the regime.
What if there had not been a catalyst for these rallies? We would be negotiating, guilelessly of course, with a government whose priority is self-preservation, at the expense of its own citizens, that in the end would never agree to terms with the United States.
The whole overture to Iran has been a remarkable combination of cynicism, in our willingness to sacrifice the Iranian people, with naivete about our prospect of persuading the minds of cruel dictators.
But the realists approve heartily.