Yes, but if it happened here…
U.S. President Obama has issued more statements condemning the government crackdown on Iranian protesters angry with the possibly fraudulent re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the presidency.
The BBC reports:
Mr Obama said: “The United States and the international community have been appalled and outraged by the threats, beatings, and imprisonments of the last few days.
“I strongly condemn these unjust actions, and I join with the American people in mourning each and every innocent life that is lost.”
He said: “The United States respects the sovereignty of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and is not at all interfering in Iran’s affairs. But we must also bear witness to the courage and dignity of the Iranian people, and to a remarkable opening within Iranian society.”
Mr Obama said of the allegations of meddling: “This tired strategy of using old tensions to scapegoat other countries won’t work anymore in Iran.
“This is not about the United States and the West. This is about the people of Iran, and the future that they – and only they – will choose.”
Obama has already endured copious criticism on this issue from the GOP, whose leaders say the President has been too ‘soft’ on Iran since taking office. And the Supreme Leader of Iran has accused both London and Washington of meddling in Iran’s affairs and seeking to foment unrest for political gain.
The U.S. government finds itself in a delicate position with regards to the situation in Iran; from the outset, the Obama White House has pledged to take a less bullish, trigger-happy approach to negotiations with Tehran than the preceding administration. The U.S., already embroiled in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan for which stateside support is rapidly dwindling, is struggling through its worst financial crisis in nearly a century. Even if Washington were sure that the Iranian election is fraudulent, it could offer little real support to Ahmadinejad’s opponents. Therefore, we can be relatively sure that what the President has to say about Iran will have scant resonance beyond the Beltway.
One thing that bothers me about diplomatic grandstanding on this issue is the question: What if it happened here? What if, rather than calmly accepting the Supreme Court-mandated first inauguration of George W. Bush, thousands of protesters had taken to the streets in New York, Washington, San Francisco, and elsewhere? Would the U.S. government had been as restrained as it now feels compelled to ask of Tehran? Judging by the harsh civic responses on record to political protests in places like Seattle and Chicago, the answer is probably ‘no.’ It seems unlikely that such questions will ever be other than hypothetical, as the U.S. fosters a society in which copious creature comforts tend to ensure merely theoretical interest in political developments among much of its population.