Video über Proteste im Iran

Mr. President, Another Speech Please

Barack Obama should give another speech. Soon, maybe tomorrow. He should address this one to the people of Iran, whose eagerness for a political voice – a real political voice – is obvious in the photographs and reports from the streets of Tehran in the last 24 hours.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s supposedly decisive victory over Mir Hussein Moussavi is almost certainly fraudulent. Most reports over the final week of the campaign suggested that either Moussavi would win outright, by earning more than 50 percent of the votes cast, or that he and Ahmadinejad would go head-to-head in a second election next week. Instead, Iran’s Interior Ministry claims that Ahmadinejad won some 63 percent of the vote to Moussavi’s 34 percent. Unlikely.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs put out a rather limp statement early Saturday afternoon: “Like the rest of the world, we were impressed by the vigorous debate and enthusiasm that this election generated, particularly among young Iranians. We continue to monitor the entire situation closely, including reports of irregularities.”

Shouldn’t the United States government be doing more than monitoring irregularities?

Let’s take the claims of President Obama and his supporters at face value. Let’s assume they are correct that his speech in Cairo, together with the mere fact of his presidency, has given the United States momentum in the region. Let’s assume that Obama meant what he said when he called for a “new beginning” for the region and relations with the United States.

Isn’t now the time to consolidate and build on those gains by using that popularity to destabilize Ahmadinejad and the hardliners in Iran? He does not need to call openly for an uprising, but he should be taking the accounts of reporters and our intelligence operatives in Iran and broadcasting them to the world. He should be amplifying the voices of the Iranians who have, once again, been deprived of any say in how they will be governed, and using them to pressure the Iranian regime at a time when it is plainly very fragile.

The scenes are dramatic. According to the New York Times:

After a mostly quiet morning in Tehran, Moussavi supporters began filtering onto the streets. By early afternoon, thousands had come together, many of them wearing the trademark green of his campaign, chanting angrily that they would fight on as Mr. Moussavi had urged them to do on Friday night when he claimed that he had won and that there had been voting “irregularities.”

Moussavi is not a moderate. He is a proponent of terror, an advocate of Iran’s nuclear program and an anti-Semite who has called for the destruction of Israel. There are many reasons to be skeptical that he would bring serious change to Iran’s foreign policy, if any. But since he was declared the loser in yesterday’s contest, he has boldly challenged the results and, by extension, the mullahs. More from the Times:

“I am the absolute winner of the election by a very large margin,” Mr. Moussavi said during a news conference with reporters just after 11 p.m. Friday, adding: “It is our duty to defend people’s votes. There is no turning back.”

A statement posted on Mr. Moussavi’s Web site on Saturday morning urged his supporters to resist a “governance of lie and dictatorship,” according to The Associated Press.


“I’m warning that I won’t surrender to this manipulation,” he said, adding that the election outcome “is nothing but shaking the pillars of the Islamic Republic of Iran sacred system and governance of lie and dictatorship.”

He warned “people won’t respect those who take power through fraud” and said the decision to declare Mr. Ahmadinejad the winner was a “treason to the votes of the people.”

This is stunning defiance in a police state. (And perhaps the most interesting sentence in the Times article was the one that reported Moussavi’s whereabouts were unknown.) Moussavi’s supporters and others are following his lead, protesting in the streets despite the very obvious and serious risks of doing so.

Obama could tap into the enthusiasm and frustration of the protesters with a few well-chosen words about democracy, the rule of law, the will of the people, consent of the governed and legitimacy. He could choose a compelling story or two from inside Iran to make his points most dramatically, perhaps an anecdote about sacrifices some Iranians made to vote or an example of post-election intimidation.

When Barack Obama was elected, his supporters promised that his foreign policy would seek to effect important change in the world without using force, that he would deploy soft power – or, as Hillary Clinton put it during her confirmation, “smart power.”

Now is the time.
Posted by Stephen F. Hayes

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  1. Crackerjack

    Warum lassen die Mullahs das Volk gewähren? Sollte Ahmedinajhad fallen, würde der Westen die “Opposition” erstmal mit Samthandschuhen anpacken und sich hüten sie w.g Atom frontal anzugehen. Die Mullahs habe sich bisher immer als die überlegenen Strategen erwiesen und es würde mich nicht wundern, wenn sie auch diesmal einen Coup landen. I may be wrong, but I don’t think so.

  2. Andrej

    Interessant ist, was die iranische Verfassung zur Versammlungsfreiheit sagt: “Article 27
    Public gatherings and marches may be freely held, provided arms are not carried and that they are not detrimental to the fundamental principles of Islam.”
    Was also der Westen in den vergangenen Tagen gelernt haben sollte:
    Protest gegen angenommenen oder tatsächlichen Wahlbetrug schadet offensichtlich den fundamentalen Prinzipien des Islam. Naja, wen wundert`s, Pressefreiheit tut das ja auch.
    Weiter sei zum Kennenlernen des Charakters des Iranischen Staatswesens ein Blick in die Präambel der Verfassung von Ahmadinedschads Islamischer Republik der locker sitzenden Knüppel empfohlen,
    die bezeichnenderweise von
    – der “Morgenröte der BEWEGUNG”
    – dem “Volkszorn” (Preisfrage: nach welcher Periode der jüngeren deutschen Geschichte klingt das?)
    – und der “ideologischen Mission des Jihad”
    der “zur Ausbreitung der Herrschaft des Gesetzes Allahs
    über die ganze Welt” führen soll. Damit auch ja niemand das etwa als Auftrag zu friedlicher Missionierung mißverstehen kann, ist noch eine kurze Koran-Passage zur Verdeutlichung beigefügt:
    “Prepare against them whatever force you are able to muster,
    and strings of horses, striking fear into the enemy of God and your enemy, and others besides them” [8:60]
    Im Moment muss der weltweite Jihad allerdings wohl noch ein wenig zurückgestellt werden, weil alle verfügbaren Kräfte, Pferde und Motorräder gegen Allahs Wahlbetrug witternde Feinde gebraucht werden.

  3. Karl Eduard

    Ah, was sind wir erschüttert, dass es nun keine moderatere Diktatur geworden ist, wo die Frau, weil die Haare unterm Kopftuch vorblitzen, nicht gleich aufs Polizeirevier geschleppt wird. Eine moderate Diktatur hätten wir nämlich viel lieber gehabt. Wo die Schwulen vorm Aufhängen an Baukränen zuerst betäubt werden. Vielleicht das nächste Mal?

  4. Crackerjack

    If the iranian people have learned one thing over the past decades, it is that the last thing on the Wests mind is the welfare and prosperity of the iranian population.