As Alana noted, Barack Obama’s Nowruz message to Iran has evolved from being solicitous of the Iranian regime to supportive of the Iranian people. Good for him, I guess, in the way that it’s always considered “fair” to say “good for him” after Obama weakly imitates the right move too late. But it should not be forgotten that this approach is precisely what George W. Bush used in 2008 as the first American president to extend Nowruz greetings directly to Iran. Bush said:
First of all, the United States of America wishes everybody a Happy New Year. Secondly, [the] people of the United States respect the great Iranian history and culture. We have great respect for the people, and we’ve got problems with the government. We have problems with the government because the government has been threatening, has made decisions that –and statements that — really have isolated the people of Iran.
My message to the young in Iran is that someday your society will be free. And it will be a blessed time for you. My message to the women of Iran is that the women of America share your deep desire for children to grow up in a hopeful society and to live in peace.
The cowboy bellicosity of that man! Reaching out to oppressed Iranian women and children! Not to worry, one year later Obama, was sure to put the focus on the true sufferers — the disrespected mullahs:
[I]n this season of new beginnings I would like to speak clearly to Iran’s leaders. We have serious differences that have grown over time. My administration is now committed to diplomacy that addresses the full range of issues before us, and to pursuing constructive ties among the United States, Iran and the international community. This process will not be advanced by threats. We seek instead engagement that is honest and grounded in mutual respect.
Lest the mullahs doubted that respect, he adorned his message with Googleable Persian quotes. (The Obama speech writing team must retain a full-time foreign language phoneticist.)
Four months later, protecting a rigged election, the objects of Obama’s respect killed, jailed, and raped the objects of Bush’s concern in the streets of Tehran. Three years later, we’ve got an Iranian terror plot in D.C., a terrorist campaign against Israelis around the globe, a Hezbollah incursion into Latin America, a newly revealed enrichment facility, and a few months left on the Iranian nuclear countdown clock. That is some season of new beginnings.
Who among the vaunted liberal-smart power-realist foreign policy set will acknowledge that Obama spent years ignoring the Iranian people in favor of Iranian theocrats only to return—too late, naturally—to Bush’s approach?