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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Obama Duly Wary on Iran: Ahmadinejad and Mousavi Not Too Different

Before we get all excited about expressing our forceful support for democratic uprisings in Iran (and believe me, I want to), let's remind ourselves why this fight between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi is more complicated than a nice Hollywood good-vs.-evil script. As Mr. Woodring appropriately reminds us, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, the main opposition candidate around whom Tehran's street protesters are rallying, is connected with terrorist attacks on American soldiers. He was Iran's prime minister in the 1980s, when Iran orchestrated the terror campaign that included the 1983 Beirut bombing that killed 241 American soldiers and 58 French soldiers.

Former CIA Middle East field officer Bob Baer explains Mousavi's politics:

"When Mousavi was Prime Minister, he oversaw an office that ran operatives abroad, from Lebanon to Kuwait to Iraq," Baer continued.

"This was the heyday of [Ayatollah] Khomeini's theocratic vision, when Iran thought it really could export its revolution across the Middle East, providing money and arms to anyone who claimed he could upend the old order."

Baer added: "Mousavi was not only swept up into this delusion but also actively pursued it" [Jeff Stein, "Mousavi, Celebrated in Iranian Protests, Was the Butcher of Beirut," CQPolitics, 2009.06.22].

President Obama recognizes that there is not much difference on policy between the current regime and Mousavi. As ABC's Jake Tapper notes, Iran's nuclear program was restarted under Mousavi in 1987. He doesn't recognize Israel, and his response to a question about Ahmadinejad's Holocaust denial feels slippery at best.

Supporting democracy is good, but we must also look at the practical results of that democracy. Hamas won the 2006 elections in Palestine, and we felt a little egg on our faces for having pushed for elections that produced results inimical to our interests. Sometimes I can't help wondering if some conservatives are pushing for a "more forceful" response from our president to the Iranian turmoil just so they can blame Obama for whichever pro-nuclear, anti-Israel candidate is in charge of Iran.

1 comment:

  1. Well, he can bow, kiss his ring, and call him “Supreme Leader” all he wants… but these blood-soaked tyrants are laughing at Obambi. It doesn’t matter what Obama says to the Mullahs now… they lost all respect for him when he started sending them adoring fan mail. They know this smiley plastic mannequin isn’t going to do anything.
    Ronald Reagan’s support of Poland’s Solidarity in the dark days of the Soviet-ordered crackdown is the model here… not the preposterous straw-man argument of “what are you going to do, invade?” disingenuously presented by the do-nothing, Obama-pologist left.
    And isn’t this what George W Bush told you was going to happen in the Middle East in the wake of Iraq’s liberation?
    Maybe that’s why Barack Obama has so little apparent interest in finishing the job in Iran… no matter how much it benefits the US and free world.
    That, and the fact that he’s already piled all his chips on legitimizing this vile regime- and a democratic revolution at this point would be downright embarrassing for him.



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