In March President Obama released a video he made for the Iranian people to extend Persian New Year good wishes. He spoke of a "new beginning" in the relationship between Iran and America.
The people of Iran who voted for anyone other than Ahmadinejad feel the election was rigged. The Iranian entity responsible for election oversight, The Guardian Council, now states that ballot boxes were stuffed. The true power in the country, the mullahs, have declared Ahmadinejad the winner.
Iranian citizens took to the street. Demonstrators held signs, written in English, demanding to know what happened to their votes. The majority of Iran's citizens are under the age of 30. They are the best educated and the most techno-savvy in that part of the world. They are brave and risking their own lives to protest.
The demonstrations began Saturday, after the vote on Friday. More than a week has passed and the Iranian protesters are still waiting for a strong, distinct message from the leader of the free world of support. The people in Iran longing for freedom made the error of mistaking the flowery video talk from President Obama as an indication that he would stand with them as they stood up for themselves.
This is not an issue that pits left versus right in our country. It is not a Democrat or Republican issue. This is an American issue. Above all else, America stands for freedom and democracy. The President has chosen to go the safe route at the expense of the Iranian people. While President Obama does everything possible to prove he is the anti-G.W. Bush guy, he in fact shows international naivete in foreign policy. The message the Iranians receive is that they cannot count on strong support from America this time around.
It is ironic that at the time America elects a far left candidate as President that Europe is going back to conservative rule. This is also evident as this drama in Iran unfolds. Who were the strong voices out front for the Iranian people? It was France, Germany and Great Britain. Even the Italian President, with shaky support of his own in Italy, came out in support of the protesters. The Congress of the U.S. passed resolutions in both houses to voice strong support for free elections and solidarity with the people of Iran Friday.
President Obama began with a very weak statement, three days after the election, saying that he didn't want to appear to be 'meddling' in the politics of Iran. Then he said there was no real difference between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi, the candidate thought to have won the popular vote. This was very discouraging to the protesters. The White House realized its error and walked the statement back a few days later. Only after eight days passed did the president issue a statement that violence was not to be tolerated.
Mr. President, standing strong for the most basic of American values, freedom and democracy, is not meddling. It is your job.
Too little, too late. Obama continues to issue paper statements and not on camera. For a president obsessed with the camera and daily press coverage on all news channels, it is a bit odd that he is now hesitant to do the right thing.
The world looks to America as a defender of freedom and democracy. There is no doubt that the Iranian protesters know we support them. However, it is the responsibility of the American president to say so in a strong and unwavering voice.
In Foreign Policy, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, an Iranian filmmaker and Mousavi external spokesman, spoke from Paris of the disappointment he felt in the statements issued by Obama.
He asked if Obama would appreciate it if a world leader claimed there was no difference between himself and GW Bush. As for the similarities of this revolution and the one in 1979, he said, "These young people who are int he streets are looking for peace and democracy. The previous revolution was a revolution of traditionalism against modernism; but not this is a revolution of modernism against traditionalism. The previous revolution had a frown; this one has a smile on its face. The previous revolution was red; this one is green. We can say that this is a 21st century revolution, but the other was a 20th century revolution. That revolution was led by the people who were educated by the epoch of the shah, and this generation was brought up by the mullahs inside the Islamic Revolution. We have many young people, and maturity is killing the fathers. In each generation, we kill our fathers. And our fathers [today] are the mullahs."
Just as then candidate Obama was slow off the mark during the Russian invasion of Georgia and opposing candidate John McCain showed the way for support of the Georgian nation, the same is true today as President Obama is led by Congress and other vocal politicians to do the right thing.
It is said that Obama is dug in. He will not go any further than he has in his vocal support. That is a shame. Americans don't want to 'meddle' in Iranian politics but we do want the protesters to know we stand with them. For Obama to hold fast to his naive theory that he will be able to negotiate with Iran on the issue of nuclear proliferation is inane.
The 3:00 AM alarm went off. Obama hit the snooze button. And, gassed up the golf cart.