I had the misfortune to watch the Shawn Hannity show today and his yammering about how President Obama should have been more "forceful" prior to his press conference today. Apparently President Obama did not take the correct course to influence the Iranian government to not brutalize their own civilians in light of the uproar in Iran over the tainted election in that nation.
Maybe I was in la-la land, but the President, in my own humble opinion, tended to stick to a pragmatic approach to the events unfolding in Iran:
This was an article on Reuters on 06/21/2009 where Obama expressed concern about the violence in Iran.
And again on 06/23/2009, Reuters ran a short on Obama's previous statement made on 06/20/2009.
Here is the full text of his statements on the 23rd.
I'm not sure what the right expects the United States, let alone the world to do in the face of the unrest in Iran. Right now, it is an Iranian affair...while it is terrible that the Iranian state is visiting brutality upon its citizens, but what do these pundits expect the United States to do?
War is not even an option. The United States is still engaged in Iraq and is now funneling more troops into Afghanistan to deal with the Taliban and Al Qaeda. On what legal grounds do we have to commence hostilities with Iran, a nation that has not directly attacked the United States? I'm not so sure I would buy into pre-emptive war or to "save the protesters."
The same goes with economic sanctions; what do they actually do that would help the protesters? What would stop the Iranian state from using the infallible post hoc ergo proctor hoc that since the United States is coming to the direct rescue of the opposition to Ahmadinejad and the Ayatollah, therefore the opposition to the results of the "legitimate" election are actually proxies of the United States and supported by the CIA etc.
If one or the other or even both options were carried out by the United States what then would keep the Iranian state overtly declaring martial law to keep the state intact and to brutally crack down on all those involved in the unrest in Iran? When I say brutal crackdown, I refer to sending in the army with orders to shoot to kill, mass arrests, mass executions--something along the lines of the brutality the Red Army displayed in the crackdown Hungary, circa 1956.
Up to this point, the Iranian government has shown that it is willing to send police and gangs of young men to beat, shoot, stab, throw off bridges those individuals protesting against the results of this election (including anyone who was unfortunately in the same area). Its bad. It's really bad over there now. But...what does the United States do? Its a real problem.
For all the hub-bub made about what Regan would do, I would think first that those on the right should not forget that Regan's administration illegally sold arms to Iran to secure the freedom of the US hostages and that there were several factors that led to the collapse of the Soviet State, not just the immediate ramp up of the US military in the Cold War and Regan telling Gorbachev to "tear down this wall."
Lets not forget either that after the first few days of the unrest in Iran, the Iranian government barred all foreign journalists from observing these protests and now many were forced out of Iran. It is not as if there are outsiders observing the unfolding events--we have the views of the Iranian government and those of the opposition to Ahmadinejad's government, each with their own motives; one wishing to maintain their power and the other of those who feel disenfranchised and demand a fair election.
Without hesitation, it is wrong to try to violently suppress those engaging in a peaceful protest against what appears to be a stolen election. But I think it is foolhardy to state that the United States has shown weakness in not tossing inflammatory rhetoric out there for Admadinejad and his government to use to legitimize in their eyes crushing a foreign backed uprising.
In my opinion (and for what it is probably worth...nothing), it appears that the Obama Administration pragmatically looked at the events unfolding and wanted to make sure that 1) that it was certain to the world and Iran that the United States was not meddling and has no intention to meddle in Iran's internal affairs and 2) to find out exactly what was going on in country before coming out and making any statements and 3) when making these statements that the avoided any inflammatory statements or statements that could be perceived as inflammatory by Tehran that could be used against the protesters.
Already based on the actions taken by the Iranian government in the face of the events that unfolded after the election, they are not in a true position of power, based on that this unrest reaches across several demographic areas and at this point, where they cannot claim that this is a foreign venture meddling in Iranian domestic politics, they may shy away from a full on Tienanmen Square style crackdown for fear of unloosing something that scares them to their core: a revolution to remove them from their positions of power. It just appears that they are trying to wear down the movement, using coercion, fear, violence...but not to the point of rolling out the tanks and mowing down the barricades along with the protesters.
Hopefully, we won't get to that point...but as we've noticed, the Iranian government has had little problem with beating, killing and oppressing these people.
All said....even with the pragmatic thinking in this situation, what is to be done? What do we do when the Iranians start rolling out the tanks and army to start gunning down people? All questions outside of the uproar from the right over President Obama's response to the crackdown on the protesters in Iran, but what will the world do in that situation?
I only ask the questions because I don't know the answers and I wouldn't venture into what I would do in that situation because I don't have the intelligence briefings on the situation in Iran to even come up with a partly competent response.