Friday, June 19, 2009

"We Meddle Because We Exist"

Whatever or whoever Mir Hossein Mousavi was five days ago, he is now the leader of a mass movement that demands the creation of a free Iran that will rejoin the Western world. And yes, the wheel could turn again, this revolution could one day be betrayed, all kinds of surprises no doubt await the Iranian people. Yes, but. But today, there is a dramatic chance of a very good thing happening in Iran, and thus in the Middle East, and therefore in the whole world...

As Obama discovered just today, America will be accused of meddling on behalf of freedom, even if we do nothing. And the accusation will have been true, in the most fundamental sense, even though the State Department raced to deny it. We are the symbol of freedom in the modern world, and those fighting for freedom against tyrants will intuitively invoke our name and our Constitution in their struggle. They are right, for the very existence of America threatens the legitimacy of the tyrants.

We meddle because we exist.

6 comments:

Shane said...

I think we should lend official support to Mousavi and his protests when Iranians begin to ask for it.

Last time I checked, the Iranians had slightly favorable opinions of the American people but very unfavorable opinions of the American government.

It bugs me that conservative commentators keep saying that Obama is staying quiet so as to not ruin his chances of diplomatic engagement with Iran. But I don't think that's what's going on at all.

The ONLY chance of Mousavi's success will come from ordinary police and army defecting to Mousavi's side. And overt U.S. government support, even if just words, would give pro-government forces greater reason to crack down. If the pro-government forces start seeing the mob as an American puppet, it'll be that much easier for them to bring the violence up to Tiananmen levels.

Finally, when you look at the rhetoric being used by Mousavi and others in this resistance, they are framing a lot of their arguments within the context of the original 1979 revolution - that Khomeini wouldn't want this government, etc. I believe this is because making these protests an organic movement from elements within Iran maximizes its chances of success - it would be irresponsible to smother that with clumsy American interference.

Shane said...

Also let me clarify - I think Obama should have come out more forcefully on issues that he does have standing to voice - condemnation of Iran's treatment of foreign journalists and the condemnation of imported thugs. Those issues are international concerns, not just Iran's internal affairs.

Evan said...

I agree, it strikes me as self-evident that his main concern in declining to openly support the protesters is to deny ammunition to those who would paint the Mousavi movement as an American puppet. But the crackdown on peaceful protesters demands more than vague protestations of concern.

Nobody's asking for clumsy American interference. But all we've gotten so far is clumsy non-interference.

Evan said...

Also, re: "I think we should lend official support to Mousavi and his protests when Iranians begin to ask for it.", Foreign Policy interviewed Mousavi's foreign spokesman Mohsen Makhmalbaf:

FP: Does Mousavi have a message that he'd like to deliver to the international community?

MM: [He asks] that the governments [of the world] pay attention to the people in the streets and do not recognize the government of Ahmadinejad as the representative of Iran -- [that they] do not recognize the government of Ahmadinejad as a legitimate government.


That sounds like asking for it to me.

Evan said...

And that said, the one and only Ron Paul makes a damn good argument for non-intervention. I miss the days when I could just be of one mind about things.

Shane said...

Heh. Regarding that sentiment, it's my opinion that anyone who exhibits complete certainty in their own views is either faking it or a moron.