The Iranian regime has escalated its fight against its own citizens, shooting students and others whether or not they are actually taking part in the protests. President Obama has finally offered some weak words on the subject. PowerLine has been speculating about why the President has not spoken out in favor of the protests. I don’t find any of their explanations credible. My own take is simple: Obama wants the protests to fail. Why? Some have guessed that he’s so committed to his strategy of engagement with the regime that he doesn’t want anything to derail it, even if that something is much more favorable to American interests. I don’t think it’s anything that complicated. He’s on the other side. He wants to comfort cruel men. Joshua Moravchik, in my view, has its exactly right:
Iranian exiles in the U.S. are receiving calls from back home asking why President Obama has “given Khamenei the green light” to crack down on the election protestors. To conspiracy-minded Middle Easterners, that is the obvious meaning of Obama’s equivocal response to the Iranian nation’s sudden and unexpected reach for freedom….
Whatever the reason, Obama’s failure may destroy his presidency. His betrayal of democracy and human rights through a series of pronouncements and small actions during his first months in office had been correctable until now. But the thousand daily decisions that usually make up policy are eclipsed by big-bang moments such as we are now witnessing. Failure to use the bully pulpit to give the Iranian people as much support as possible is morally reprehensible and a strategical blunder for which he will not be forgiven.
Muravchik traces this to Obama’s postmodernism:
This strategy might be called peace through moral equivalence, and it finally makes fully intelligible Obama’s resistance to advocating human rights and democracy. For as long as those issues are highlighted, the cultural relativism that laced his Cairo speech and similar pronouncements in other places is revealed to be absurd.
There is another possibility, which I raised in the context of the campaign. How do we know that Obama isn’t an American Chavez, who has no intention of departing the office of the Presidency peacefully? We already have ample evidence that Obama does not respect the rule of law, and his ACORN connections reveal his interest in subverting democracy in the United States. Perhaps his ideological affiliations are with Chavez and Ahmedinejad, and his “doctrine” is not merely not to promote democracy and human rights but to undermine them.
I raise this as a question; I don’t assert it. But if it were true, how would he be acting differently?