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June 15, 2009

The Time for Steel

Michael Totten on Obama getting all mushy on Iran at the very moment steel is needed.

Understand the mind of a totalitarian. “Probe with a bayonet,” Vladimir Lenin famously said. “If you meet steel, stop. If you meet mush, then push.”

The Khomeinists in Iran likewise only stop when they meet steel. In his book “The Persian Night: Iran under the Khomeinist Revolution“, Amir Taheri describes how since 1979 the regime has always continued to push until, as he put it, it hits something hard. It’s hitting something hard right now within its borders. This is no time for mush from everyone else. The regime today is weaker than it has ever been. If the insurrection continues, a fast hard shove might well push it over. If the regime survives, it may well feel invincible.

Military action against Iran should be the very last option and used only if everything short of it fails. Dialogue, though, is only the first option, one that has been failing for three decades. And there is a vast range of options between war and discussion.

If President Barack Obama simply must get this out of his system, at least his patience may be partly sapped by the brutal suppression of hope and change in Iran. He will learn soon enough, if he hasn’t already, that Khamenei, if he survives after defeating Iranians who bravely stood up and said “death to dictatorship” to his face, will be in no mood to compromise with diplomats who are afraid to speak up from thousands of miles away.

And movements like the protests against tyranny in Iran are essentially irrational. I don't mean that as denigrating, but in this sense: They are fueled by emotion and, yes, hope. Their odds of victory are slim. Their odds of being crushed and possibly killed are substantial. And yet they do this anyway, this irrational noble thing.

An American President can't provide much in tangible assistance to such a movement. He can, at least, provide some more of that irrational hope, give the protesters and dissenters the succor of knowing their voices are heard around the world and their cause is just and supported, even if that support is largely of the moral kind.

Obama's eagerness to support the mad mullahs at their point of crisis and give them succor is not just "weak." It's nearly evil.

I've been at a lot of conservative meetings where a speaker gave credit to Ronald Reagan for dismantling the Soviet Union just by proclaiming "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall." I always roll my eyes a little -- not really, but in my mind -- at giving so much credit for destroying an evil empire to a sentence.

But I never doubt that such statements surely help. People in repressed countries desperately need allies and friends. Their own governments -- including every cop and even every schoolteacher -- are allied against them, and their own neighbors too might sell them out to the secret police. With the need for friends and allies so great, statements offering moral support can in fact be powerful, and offer those nobly irrational resisters some reason to believe they can prevail.

And if enough people in a repressive regime believe that -- they can prevail.

Revolutions and counterrevolutions really do turn on hope. If enough people believe they can overthrow a regime, then they can. It is only because they are paralyzed by fear and futility that they don't. The moment those tools of the tyrant are stolen from him, the tyrant becomes imperiled.

I am baffled by Obama's refusal to offer any encouragement to this movement, even if it's of a cautious kind. Why not say something pointed like "We are willing to work with the legitimate government of Iran, whatever that might turn out to be"? Clarification: He did say something like that.. before the election. See below.

Iranian students, meanwhile, say they're "doomed" if Obama meekly, evilly accepts the election results.

Merkel: "Signs of Irregularities:" Speaking softly.

Obama Actually Did Say Something Like This Before the Election: Just to clarify:

BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Whoever ends up winning the election in Iran, the fact that there's been a robust debate hopefully will help advance our ability to engage them in new ways

This is obviously, though, not the same as undermining the regime and supporting the resisters after the "election."

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posted by Ace at 02:38 PM

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