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Obama, the Less-Than-Great Defender

President Obama's response to Iran falls squarely in the category of "pretty good" and slow to the draw. He seems to be so worried about not being George W. Bush that he's forgetting to be the American president. His expression of "deep concerns" about violence directed at peaceful protesters is weak tea. Concerns?

The alternative to being an unapologetic defender of democratic principles and process doesn't have to be a war-mongering, swaggering, preemptive bully. Or however Obama would characterize Bush. Come on, Mr. President, now is the time for eloquent men to be full-throated. Now is the time to say, sure, this is for the Iranians to work out, but the U.S. stands strong against tyranny and the suppression of free speech. Obama doesn't have to support a particular candidate, but he does have to support a particular point of view. Rather than expressing passive concern, he should actively urge the Iranian government to not use violence against peaceful demonstrators. Urge the government to respect free media and the flow of ideas. Condemn the detention of citizens whose crime has been to protest an election.

Isn't that the least we should say?

Instead, what Iranians are hearing is... not much. As Jeff Gedmin, president of Radio Free Europe, said to me on the phone today: "When we don't speak, that's also speaking." Meanwhile, Iranian human rights reporter Golnaz Esfandiari, working from Prague, has been on the phone with friends and family in Iran. She told me three things of particular interest:

  1. The protests are not restricted to northern Tehran, as has been reported, but are taking place in several cities.
  2. The protests were not orchestrated, as is often the case, but have been entirely spontaneous.
  3. Iranians do not feel the moral support from the U.S. that they hope for.

They do feel that support from former Czech president Vaclav Havel, who yesterday said that Western nations should "express solidarity for those [Iranians] who are defending human rights."

Esfandiari today also tracked down Iranian Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi, who called for new elections with international observers in place to monitor results. (Here's the full interview.)

Obama's calm and reserve are among his best traits. But sometimes you get the feeling he doesn't quite believe he's president. Sometimes, as Bill Maher said, he could stand to be a little more like George W. Bush. If the planet's chief spokesman for democratic principles and human liberty is perceived as tentative, those fighting for freedom in Iran and elsewhere may be doomed.

By Kathleen Parker  | June 16, 2009; 7:52 PM ET
Categories:  Parker  | Tags:  Kathleen Parker  
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For eight years we watched Iran march further don the road of absolute despotism.

After clearly taking another approach to this issue we now have the greatest cry for freedom we have heard from Iran in 30 years.

Your intellectual dishonesty is shameless.

Truly pathetic. Go sit down and eat your crow - you bore me.

Posted by: PulSamsara | June 17, 2009 12:23 AM | Report abuse

In November of 1989, George Herbert Walker Bush famously said, "I am not going to dance on the Berlin Wall." He was wise enough to understand that, as communism was crumbling, the least productive thing an American President could do would be to stick a fork in their eye. Obama is correct to stand back and let the Iranians have their food fight. Maybe it will be the fall of Khamenei, or maybe it will only be a circus like Florida 2000. Either way, any opportunity for productive American action will come much later in the game.

Posted by: wthu | June 17, 2009 12:32 AM | Report abuse

Nearly all Iranians remember that the USA orchestrated the fall of the Iranian government in order to install the Shah of Iran. Advocacy for the demonstrators, on the part of the President, will cause most Iranians to rally together (probably towards the Mullahs) in response to an outside threat.

Posted by: Let_it_Be | June 17, 2009 2:02 AM | Report abuse

Ole Dubya would have jumped at the chance to start another war with Iran at anytime during the past 8 years.
President Obama made one speech in Cairo and now Iran is being turned upside down from within by Iranians.

Posted by: JoeNTx | June 17, 2009 2:26 AM | Report abuse

Obama correctly realizes that this would be counterproductive.

Iranians are very sensitive to foreign meddling (ironic, considering how much of it they do themselves). Preaching by the US would just galvanize support for Iran's hard right and be used to divert attention from the country's domestic issues.

Posted by: PaulG2 | June 17, 2009 2:40 AM | Report abuse

"Obama's calm and reserve are among his best traits. But sometimes you get the feeling he doesn't quite believe he's president."

No, actually, Ms. Parker, I get the feeling that Mr.Obama does know he's the president.
It's you who doesn't quite believe he is.

But what I believe is that Mr. Obama's measured speech indicates a full appreciation of the impact of any words he might speak, and how they would be used against the agitators. And I also believe that you, Ms.Parker, are being intellectually dishonest, and I believe you know it. Those are the feelings--I--get.

Posted by: martymar123 | June 17, 2009 6:37 AM | Report abuse

Kathleen - don't you read anything?

Most people who have not already contributed to the mess our foreign policy was in January agree, the Iranian people must decide for themselves what they want their government to be.

You failed also to say something that is extremely important. The power behind the challenge to current Iran president is the former Iran president whose heavy hands caused the revolution that put the current guy in charge...

I agree with President Obama, it cannot have our hands involved... they got to do it for themselves and live with the consequences.

Posted by: dutchess2 | June 17, 2009 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Well, judging from the posts I've read, I stand in the minority: I belive Ms. Parker's view on this subject is, intellectually and/or other, dead-on.

The United States, i.e., the President, should give full-throated support to the democratic will of peoples of any country. If we believe that we walk the walk - then we should very well talk the talk.

Posted by: kban495 | June 17, 2009 9:10 AM | Report abuse

You're missing the point of the article. Obama doesn't have to go in guns blazing, or say anything directed towards Ahmadinejad (or Mousavi), but it is irresponisble for the President of the U.S. to say nothing.

Obama's silence on voting rights in Iran leaves his Cairo speech unfulfilled and hollow. He emphasized both the need to improve human rights in the Middle East and a desire to avoid intruding on how they govern themselves. Reiterating support for democratic process is not the equivalent of meddling in Iranian politics, which he is right to avoid.

I think he is quickly learning that when you try to stay in the middle of the road you get hit by traffic going both ways.

Posted by: laxeagle425 | June 17, 2009 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Plain to see that you and all that suffer from blood lust aren't the ones walking the tight rope.

Obama is an intelligent and masterful statesman. I realize after the last eight years that is an unexpected and evidently, for some, a difficult to handle idea.

Posted by: rmrobrita22 | June 17, 2009 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Where do some of you get the false idea that President Obama has said nothing? Please stop, look, and listen to the facts rather than getting all your ideas from the RW drive by media (Rush,et al).Try mainline news scources rather than cable news/entertainers the radio blah,blah,blah and least credible of all, the blogosphere.

Posted by: rmrobrita22 | June 17, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse

re: rmrobrita22

From the Washington Post:

"The administration has remained as quiet as possible during the Iranian election season and in the days of street protests since Friday's vote."

"Vice President Biden said yesterday on NBC's "Meet the Press" that he had 'doubts' about the election returns but that 'we're going to withhold comment'"

Posted by: laxeagle425 | June 17, 2009 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Oh, I think Obama is full of the celebrity and popularity of being the first black president, the leader of the free world, etc. I think it's being an American he has a problem with.

He is more interested in being vaunted as "Mr. Cool" and as a diplomat than he is in actually standing up for democracy and human rights.

I am sure that Obama has assessed this question very carefully and taken the path he thinks is most advantageous to himself. What's right for Iran - or America are wholly secondary to what's right for Barak Obama.

Posted by: nlynnc | June 17, 2009 9:31 AM | Report abuse

If you compare the Dubya and Obama administrations foreign policy, one gets a D and the other gets an A. Dubya would have gotten a F if he did not hand the ball to Baker and Gates in 06. N. Korea has tried to test the new president, which has gotten Russia and China onboard with no vetoes at the U.N. Taking the look and see approach to Iran is criticized, when siding with the protesters is counter productive. By standing back, Aminijad can't blame the U.S. for the protests. Khoumenei is stuck between a rock and a hard place with millions protesting, 1/3 of the Supreme Council including 2 Grand Ayatollahs calling for peaceful protests and a true count of the votes. Obama's Cairo speech stressing his telling the truth, and extending the hand of friendship has reaped benefits. The leader of the Islamic Republic has lied about the elections and holocaust, a fact the educated population using the internet is informed and angry about. Christine Annapour, well respected throughout Islam, asked about opposition being arrested which is happening, to further the backlash against Aminijad. Their economy is floundering with men marrying 3 years older compared to the Shah. An educated people know the reactor at Arak gets bombed, Iran's nuclear bomb aspirations like Saddam's end. The rejection of Iranian overseas proxies like Hezzbollah and Sadr in elections can't be focused on by the Supreme Council when domestic unrest becomes the priority. Obama is lucky this happened as it helps stop their nuclear program if Mousavi is given a larger voice.

Posted by: jameschirico | June 17, 2009 10:09 AM | Report abuse

One of the great strengths of the Obama Administration is that it ignores bad advice -- like this -- from the peanut gallery. The light touch he is displaying in the tense situation in Iran is entirely appropriate.

Posted by: mypitts2 | June 17, 2009 10:21 AM | Report abuse

The President is doing exactly what he should be doing. From a news junkie that watch all the major news, cable and read many political websites, all commentators of Iranian descent, many military leader, and middle eastern experts, with perhaps two exception, believe he is acting just right. Any mention of favoring Moussavi will provide ammunition for the established governing council for accusing him as a puppet for the west and for the U.S. as meddling. I think you know it and the GOP know it, yet you all want to attack the president regardless of what he does.

Posted by: lcubed | June 17, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse

wthu: Great quote from Bush 41. Thanks for that.

Posted by: mypitts2 | June 17, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse

There is a great sadness with the stance usually taken by the neo cons. They are always sports fans who view foreign affairs as a GAME that must be PLAYED very much like football or baseball...or maybe poker. You must rant and bluff and name-call your opponent. The only difference between games and their conception of foreign affairs is that it doesn't matter who wins...or rther, a different idea of what winning is. It's posture that counts. "Who do you think you are, you axis of evil!" "I'll punch your lights out!" "This is the US you're messing with, buddy!" That's how you play and that's how you win. The end of the game may be war, but that's no matter. "We showed them."

Posted by: caesarganz | June 17, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

It's amazing to listen to some of the things that people have to say about our current President. It's as if they are so far in denial that they actually believe the things they conjure up to some-how discredit the President. It has become so painfully accurate to say, that no matter the topic, whatever is in opposition with the President is the right position for them to take. I believe that everyone was born with the spirital gift to know the differance between right and wrong. I think that if people were to speak, listen and rationalize using thier hearts instead of silly prejudices that they would be alot more understanding and less critical of how the President is trying to evoke change. A change that is not only beneficial to the U.S., but to the whole world, for a better tomorrow for our future generations.

Posted by: williams1387 | June 17, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

re: Williams1387, Caesarganz

those were completely wasted comments that got no where in the discussion at hand. Did you have any suggestions for how Obama should be responding, or do you like the current course he is taking?

These are simple questions that invite discourse, not rants against people you don't agree with.

re: jameschirico, lots of good points

Posted by: laxeagle425 | June 17, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Contrary to those who find it very easy either to pass judgment on the actions of others or to feel at ease pushing their own solutions, President Obama is wise beyond his years. Taking a measured, "cool" approach to the events in Iran is smart politics and smart diplomacy. Why put your own reputation on the line for the problems solely limited to another country. A wise man knows when to enter a fray. I trust Obama on this one.

Posted by: EarlC | June 17, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

I have a great deal of respect for Vaclav Havel. But, that being said, it is certainly easier to be aggressive in your remarks when you're a FORMER president, isn't it?

Posted by: lizgwiz | June 17, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

I'm not a partisan person, but I have to observe that so many Americans carry this delusion that an American president, simply by the power of his words, can spontaneously generate democracies overseas. These well-intentioned Americans are more often than not Republicans, who harbor an almost unconscious belief that Ronald Reagan's speech at the Berlin Wall was the primary catalyst for the collapse of the Soviet Union.

While I believe democracy to be the best system in the world, and am generally optimistic about America's example to the world, but I challenge anyone to come up with an example where any president's lecturing about democracy has ever yielded a democratic outcome. For a good part of the last eight years, G.W. Bush made hectoring about democracy a central part of his foreign policy, yet North Korea only slid deeper into totalitarianism and Iran's moderates, which gained traction in the 1990s, became marginalized.

If a president is going to act, he needs to act in the national interest, not just so we can hear the words that make us feel good. If no interest is served by speaking in favor of human rights and democracy in Iran (and I would argue that none is), then the quiet observant approach is probably called for in this case.

Posted by: Buddydog | June 17, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

It's a good thing it's called "Post Partisan" otherwise, I would have thought Kathleen Parker was hoping "those fighting for freedom in Iran and elsewhere may be doomed."


Write another column about how un-american the measures the President took earlier this year in creating White House Council on Women and Girls is, and then blast him in a column for not "preaching" enough to Iran about their oppression of women.


Keep up the hypocrisy it makes for very tasty crow (hat tip: PulSamsara).

Posted by: tony11 | June 17, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

re: Buddydog

I tend to agree with you points, but the problem is that U.S. Presidents, both Democrat and Republican, have always and historically been ambassadors of democracy to the world in a sense. Our leaders have always extolled the virtues of democracy as the best path to individual and human rights.

You're absolutely correct that no "words" have ever directly led to democratization of country. However, wouldn't it be disingenuous for an American President not to say anything when human rights and a people's right to self determination are in danger? Especially considering how recently he has re-affirmed American commitment to those principles?

Posted by: laxeagle425 | June 17, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Parker writes as if she is ignorant of America's tainted history with Iran for over the last half a century. She writes as if she is unaware that the slightest blip from our country about this process will serve primarily the current regime in power. She writes as if Iranians are unsure of whether or not the US would want a revolution by the youth that would bring about a more pro-US, leftist government. Maybe Ms. Parker wants to be the devils-advocate and argue McCain & the extreme right's point, or maybe Ms. Parker is simply naive.

Posted by: YGandB | June 17, 2009 11:13 AM | Report abuse

I usually agree with you on most things, Ms. Parker, but this time I think you're wrong. Pat Buchanan (no apologist for Obama) has it about right--Obama's hands-off stance, expressing only general sympathy for democracy and concern about the election, is the way to play it. The election may or may not have been a sham. Despite the impressive protests of the young and the disaffected, there are some indications that Ahmadinejad has majority support and actually did win, whether or not there was tampering with the vote. Overt U.S. intervention on the side of the protesters, even strong verbal condemnation of the regime, would only reinforce the widespread perception in Iran that Ahmadinejad and the mullahs are the defenders of Iran's national interests, including nuclear energy, in opposition to a bullying superpower. It's a delicate situation, and obviously nobody can say for sure how it's going to play out. It would be nice if the theocracy was dethroned. But I'm with Buchanan on this: Let the dust settle. In the meantime, Obama's measured approach--particularly in the wake of the conciliatory tone of his Cairo speech--is a lot better than going off half-cocked, as some jingo conservatives are advocating.

Posted by: coy66ote | June 17, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

I have no problem with Kathleen Parker expressing her opinion on the subject. I don't agree with her however, that there is any need for the American President to be "full-throated" at this time. Actually, it's not even clear what that means, but whatever it means, I'm not sure what Kathleen Parker thinks that would accomplish at this juncture. Does she expect that the Ayatollah, upon hearing some full throated response from the American President will throw up his hands and declare, "You're right Obama! I'm no longer running the country!"

This all reminds me of the Presidential campaign, when McCain made a great show of suspending his campaign to rush back to Washington, where he accomplished exactly nothing. It was great press though.

In essence, Ms. Parker wants Obama to grandstand. Evidently, that's what she thinks the proper role of the American President should be; Grandstander-in Chief. I trust Obama's ability to analyze the situation and formulate an American response, far more than I trust Kathleen Parker's.

Posted by: sonny2 | June 17, 2009 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Ms Parker. I happen to think that when it comes to Iran many of the experts with accurate knowledge of this region are right. President Obama is taking the right approach; low key and measured. We have a long history of meddling in Iran's internal affairs and now is not the time to remind them of that. To do so would only benefit the current Iranian political leadership.

And don't you find it funny and odd that the same group of republicans and neo-cons that literally days before the election were advocating bombing Iran now think we should be shouting from the rooftops at the top of our lungs that we support the same people who we wanted to bomb last week?

President Obama is 'talking softly, but carrying a big stick.' President T. Roosevelt would approve. George Bush, on the other hand, would be blathering all about 'freedum, eleckshuns and democracy' and the Iranians would all be remembering the Shah.

So, in this case, less is more.

Posted by: cfeher | June 17, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

All I can say is; Thank Goodness McCain was not elected.

We don't need another war!

Posted by: paco282 | June 17, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Ms. Parker,

Mind your own damn business, quit acting like the bored, busy-body housewife that you seem wont to display. The Iranian people are quite capable of getting rid of that government if they really want to. After all, they got rid of the last one. ( Of course, WE got rid of the one before that. ) If America truly believes in "Democracy" and the "will of the people" then leave Iran to itself. If you cannot find enough to whine and worry about in this nation's politics you need to change jobs.

Posted by: whizkidz1 | June 17, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

We spoke loudly to the Hungarians in 1956 but then left them in the lurch when the Soviets invaded. Better not to raise the Iranians' hopes unless we are fully prepared to back them with force when the s*** hits the fan.

Posted by: PrincetonClassAnimal | June 17, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Parker is absolutely right. I believe Obama is genuine in his desire to help democracy in Iran but I also believe he is being far too cautious. This one should be a no-brainer -- he should listen to his heart and support the Iranian people in their thirst for democracy. A part of it is to treat the mullahs with respect and not automatically assume his words will make things worse for the people. His words in Cairo gave hope to a lot of people in the Middle east and Iran. Now by not speaking up he will make Iranians feel US is once again not on their side. US certainly doesn't need to "meddle" by giving them arms or money -- I believe it is the moral support that people seek. Stand up when it counts. Like they are doing.

Posted by: news-junkie | June 17, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Parker,

President Obama apparently knows a little "twitty" that somehow folks like John McCain, George Bush/Cheney and yourself don't, and that it that everything that happens "out there, over there, under there," is not always about a US reaction. The world doesn't need to know the US reaction everytime someone hiccups.

The Iranians are a very capable people, remember, they overthrew the "US backed Shah." They know how to hold a revolution and I am sure they could teach us a few things.

President Obama knows now is not the time to "in your face" the "divine leadership" of Iran. It is time for the citizens of Iran to "in your face" their "divine leadeship," if they so choose.

Everyone knows where the US stands on Democracy and the "rights of citizens" to peacefully protest.

The area where the Republicans don't do well would be in their ability to project strength weapons, or fear mongering, but there is a better way, a more intelligent way, to project one's strength and President Obama knows about it as well as those of us who got real tired of the Bush/Cheney macho-man leadership that took us no-where but cost of plenty.

So, relax Ms. Paker. Sit back and enjoy the Iranian people's attempt at a revolution of sorts, it is just not about us.

Posted by: rannrann | June 17, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse


The area where the Republicans don't do well would be in their ability to project strength without weapons, or fear mongering, but there is a better way, a more intelligent way, to project one's strength and President Obama knows about it as well as those of us who got real tired of the Bush/Cheney macho-man leadership that took us no-where but cost us plenty.

So, relax Ms. Paker. Sit back and enjoy the Iranian people's attempt at a revolution of sorts, it is just not about us.

Posted by: rannrann | June 17, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

I do not quite understand the strategy of being "tentative" and "waiting and seeing" with Iran. The current regime there is a minor nuisance, literally not a threat, and literally has nothing to offer (or could it be that Obama is worried about oil?). What's the point of not kicking them while they're reeling a bit? You don't get these chances every day.

Posted by: Wallenstein | June 17, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Coy66ote - "I usually agree with you on most things, Ms. Parker, but this time I think you're wrong. Pat Buchanan (no apologist for Obama) has it about right--Obama's hands-off stance, expressing only general sympathy for democracy and concern about the election, is the way to play it."

Yep. Few things are as irritating as a foreigner telling you who you should elect, what laws must be passed to turn the USA into a civilized nation, and what cultural and religious deficiencies your nation has.

Even when you partially agree with the foreigner's criticisms.

My son studied in Germany and stayed with a classmate who was German and a friend one summer. We hosted the kid and his Mom and Dad for a week. We learned that Dennis Kuchinich would make the best President, followed by John Edwards, with Obama as VP. And we should vote for the Democrat candidate for Governor mainly because she was liberal and agnostic..."You are too Christian here..."
That we drove "ridiculous cars" and failed to recycle "sensibly". That Iraq was "murder", Russians are the real problem.
And air conditioning in private homes helps destroy the planet with extra CO2. And the nuke power station 30 miles away was "unwise".

We turned the AC down to 63 DEG out of pure spite.
But nothing ticked us off more than Germans telling us who should be elected..

Oh, and as people, all three Gemans were fine folks, meant well, and were great hosts to our son...
The relationship between the US and Iran has far further to go, before we even get to a stage were 60-year staunch allies lecture one another over Green policy and the merits of Kuchinich..

Posted by: ChrisFord1 | June 17, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

For President Obama to say anything that would not be counterproductive would require him to employ the finest of distinctions in his speech. Naturally, we who are of the same western culture, with English as our first language, would likely grasp and applaud those distinctions.

Unfortunately, methinks they are likely to be lost in the hearing of those who come from an entirely different culture - and who have a deep-seated animosity to the US, to boot.

Best advice: Zip it!

Posted by: JohnBorrowman | June 17, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

As we witnessed in Iraq, Republicans rush in where wise men (and women) fear to tread.

The Iranian election took place last Friday. Today is Wednesday.

The election took place in a foreign sovereign nation -- one that is at loggerheads with the United States.

Yet Parker, like the dolt Kagan, wants the President of United States to rush in, precipitously, and say or do... what exactly?

Parker, being a pretentious halfwit like Kagan, can only compile a list of puerile nonsense.

Proof of her desperation is turning to Bill Maher, a tenth-rate comedian and self-professed Libertarian, for support.

The election in Iran is none of the United States' business.

And given America's unfortunate history of overthrowing a legitimate Iranian government and installing the hated and tyrannical Shah, any interference or statements will only exacerbate the situation between Iran and the United States.

President Obama is correct in deploring the violence. He is also correct in doing or saying nothing that would appear to be interference in Iran's electoral process.

Posted by: pali2600 | June 17, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

This article strikes exactly the right chord for the moment. I am personally unwilling to bear decades worth of imposed guilt for actions long past, and completely forgoing all of the positive contributions the United States has made to the world in order to justify President Obama's silence. Despite mistakes we have made, mistakes we are certainly making, and mistakes we have yet to make, there is only one country in the world that welcomes immigrants in droves, and has the waiting lists at Embassies around the world to prove it. Don't hint to me for one second that somehow in the course of our foreign policy since World War II we have handed the mantle of representing freedom for all to someone else. It simply is not the case.

Ms. Parker has made a worthy, centrist case for supporting the ideals of freedom, which we are witnessing in action in Iran as we speak. She is not advocating invasion. She is not advocating the support of any single candidate. She is correctly and pointedly imploring the current global representative of Freedom to voice his support for the ideals and rights of the governed to have their consent matter. No more, no less. This is exactly what the United States of America needs to be saying at this historical point in time.

There is a strong gap on this board between the well-read and the well-understood on issues pertaining to Iran. Certainly there is significant enmity between these two countries at the distant, yet related events of the 1953 coup and the 1979 Embassy takeover and hostage crisis. Many here like to combine these two events with President Obama's Cairo speech as strong logic for the Leader of the Free World's silence. But events today in Iran are not occurring because of a speech President Obama gave in Cairo last month. These events in Iran are the result of years of oppression of human rights, flailing economic policies and the suffering of the people under a religiously autocratic hand. Those who simply cite 1953 and 1979 as reasons for the United States' deafening silence fail to consider the demographic and social factors involved in these events today. Many, many Iranian's admire the United States and dream of the day they can emigrate there to start a better life.

Consent of the governed. The United States has it. Iran wants it. The country with the most to offer in advice and encouragement on how to make the consent of the governed work--44 successful transfers of power and the United States needs to feel guilty about being the worlds foremost democracy?--is willingly choosing to remain mute just when a group of impassioned Iranian's could most benefit from knowing the they are on the right track, and the free world supports their efforts at having their consent heard.

Well done Ms. Parker, well done.

Posted by: MikeD8 | June 17, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

By Ms. Nosy Parker's logic, Iran was at fault in not loudly proclaiming the farce that America's 2000 election made of democracy.

The person who got the most votes lost the election. By most standards of democracy, that was a travesty of justice -- only made palatable (in America) by the unelected Supreme Court and the arcane and undemocratic Electoral College.

Or perhaps Iran should have protested the recent election in Israel -- where the Party that came second was asked to form the government. And did. How "democratic" is that?

Ms. "Nosy" Parker would do best to mind her own business. And leave diplomacy to those who have some idea of what they are doing.

Posted by: pali2600 | June 17, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

The missing question is all of this is whether or not voter fraud actually occurred. It's widely assumed here that Ahmadinejad couldn't have possibly won, yet any number of pre-election polls showed that he at least had a substantial lead, and there doesn't seem to be any kind of statistical or other smoking gun.

If our job is to promote democracy, then we must accept Ahmadinejad as the new Iranian president if he won the majority of the vote. We can voice our support for the right to free speech and a more open political system, but I don't think that, from our position of ignorance about what actually happened, we can call for Ahmadinejad to step down.

Posted by: davestickler | June 17, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse


The WP you give as a source was June 9th. This is June 17th.

Much has happpened in the last 7 days---catch up time.

Posted by: rmrobrita22 | June 17, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Kathleen you are wrong on this one. Obama is behaving far more rationally than McCain on this issue. He is doing and saying exactly the right thing. If Obama followed your and McCain's advice Ahmadinejad would be using your words as proof that this uprising was a pro-western demonstration and we would have another Tiannenman square on our hands.

Leave Obama alone on tis one - his natural cautiousness is serving him well.

Posted by: NMModerate1 | June 17, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

President Obama's response to the Iranian election has been exactly correct. It gives me so much peace of mind to know that we have this thoughtful, brilliant, and caring leader rather than one of the thoughtless, intellectually weak, and self-serving Republicans who continually rear their empty heads.

Posted by: BooJa | June 17, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

It would be bad strategy for Obama to say too much. The Iranians could use it against thier own citizens. Bush rushed in like a cowboy and only later did we learn how foolish that was.

Posted by: Grandblvd03 | June 17, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Kathleen, Kathleen, Kathleen. Your own words contradict you, "Obama's calm and reserve are among his best traits." Why does President Obama want to be like any one else but himself? If he wants to deliver measured responses, so be it. It is better than saber rattling or just saying something to say something. I kind of expect better from you writers, columnist of large periodicals but I guess you are just "saying something to say something".

Democracy comes from within, peacefully or violently. The Iranians must choose what they want. It is not up to the U.S. President or any other world leader. It is up to the people affected. No, President Obama should not become a cheerleader for the Iranian people but a supporter of governments who exercise human rights, fairness and dignity. The fact that President Obama reached out to the Muslim world and Iranians are calling for fair elections and peace, says a lot. President Obama does not need to say more, he already has said more than the previous administrations on this issue.

Posted by: ajackson3 | June 17, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

re: rmrobrita22

The link is to Analysis article dated Monday, June 15. Not the 7th.

re: davestickler

You are absolutely correct, it does look like Ahmadinejad won, but the winner has nothing to do with whether Obama makes a statement or not. (As Kagan points out, this result would actually be in Obama's favor) To make a comment would not have to involve choosing a side in the election,
Obama simply needs to say something to show support for the electoral process as a whole.

Posted by: laxeagle425 | June 17, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Boy the OBAMA BLOGGERS are on patrol! I agree with you 100%. He makes us look weak. I can't beleve we let the Intenet cursade elect him

Posted by: joy1951 | June 17, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

What will it take for the Republicans and their RW nuts to get over themselves, stop just saying no, and begin to really work seriously to help bring about what is really good for America and its people?

Posted by: rmrobrita22 | June 17, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Good comment rmrobrita22, added a lot to the conversation.

Posted by: laxeagle425 | June 17, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

What?????????Do you want him to pull a McCain?

You know---"Bomb,bomb,bomb lets bomb Iran!"

Really cool---for someone in junior high!

Posted by: rmrobrita22 | June 17, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse


If you are being sincere--Thank you.

If you are being sarcastic--my comments are as good as those whose comments here bash on & on using the same old rhetoric, that they have been using way too long. Nothing new, nothing original. Just bash,bash, bash in the same old vein.

Posted by: rmrobrita22 | June 17, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Holy cow. Obama should stay the hell out of Iran's election. Jesus lady, that's all they need now, a US president sticking his nose into that mess.

(shakes head)

No matter what Obama does you're going to criticize him. I don't see any reason to listen to Republicans anymore. Their bitterness at losing and their incompetence in foreign relations has made them loonie as Daffy Duck.

Posted by: artmann11 | June 17, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Considering our history of meddling in Iran's affairs in the past, President Obama is absolutely taking the correct approach to the current situation in Iran. The people of that country are doing an admirable job of taking on the system without our "help."

Some in Iran have already decried the protests as having been organized by the West and that the civil unrest is due to America's interference (heard on BBC World radio this morning).

Had President Obama listened to the hapless "advise" from the likes of Ms. Parker or Sen. McCain, he would have played right into the hands of these folks spreading this baseless propaganda.

I wish the Iranian people who are brave enough to stand up to what they feel is a currupt system all the best. I am truly in awe!

Posted by: VAreader | June 17, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Stop trying to play comment police. You are not the site moderator and it's not as if your comments are those of some wise old sage.

You post a quote from an analysis article. An analysis article is essentially an opinion piece. Using that writer's opinion as if it's some sort of established fact is disingenuous. As much as you seem to be on this site, I'm sure you've read of the actual comments Pres. Obama has made of the situation in Iran and the reasons given for not engaging in hyperbole or vitriolic statements.

Posted by: MrInternational | June 17, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

I chalk this up to a brief case of partisan knee-jerkitude overwhelming an otherwise astute observer. I simply cannot believe Ms. Parker is this stupid.

And, so, I express only surprise that Ms. Parker would write such blinkered nonsense, as well as my utter lack of surprise that the President is ignoring such foolish yammering.

Posted by: RicardoMalocchio | June 17, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Anyone with even passing knowledge of US-Iranian relations knows that US support for Ahmadinejad's opposition would only hurt the cause.

This isn't Eastern Europe. *Most people in Iran don't like us.* While there may be certain things they respect about our culture, that is not the same as respecting our government.

Some neoconservatives (Pipes, Podhoretz) have openly expressed support for Ahmadinejad because they think it will more clearly expose Iranian nuclear ambitions. They disingenuously cloak their tacit support for Ahmadinejad (and utter disregard for the Iranian people) by calling for more public support of the opposition, knowing it would help make an Ahmadinejad victory possible.

I don't think that's Ms. Parker's particular strategy, but I don't respect staking out a moral high road while being oblivious to the potential consequences. She certainly has to be aware that by parroting neoconservative talking points she makes their goals possible.

Posted by: kszimmerman | June 17, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse


"They are always sports fans who view foreign affairs as a GAME that must be PLAYED very much like football or baseball...or maybe poker" I agree with this description of the neocons but poker is best played that when you do speak, it matters. Neocon poker is a loser, but I understand that Obama is an excellent poker player; the game requires persistence, cool calculation (and a cool head in the face of one wins all the time), patience and above all a sense of what the other players are thinking. All qualities BHO seems to have, unlike his political adversaries who are bound to over-reach if they haven't already.

Every time McCain opens his trap we can see that he is a plunger, a crap-shooter (what else was the choice of Palin but a wild throw of the dice?), and we are reminded that however disappointing to some in the short run Obama may be, we are far better off with him than with the other guy.

Posted by: jprfrog | June 17, 2009 3:05 PM | Report abuse

There was an election in MN seven months ago and they're still without a senator. Should Pres. Obama demand that they seat the person who won the most votes? We can't finalize an election in 7 months, or without the Supreme Court, so who are we to tell another country what they should do.

Posted by: rlj1 | June 17, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

caesarganz is correct in his post. This is not a Neocon "game" to be "played" with the President of the US somehow making the right moves (the last of which, inevitably, would be military). The cowboy days are over. This is a tremendously tense and difficult situation and bluster from the President will do nothing constructive. What do you want to do, "smoke out" Ahmedinijad "dead or alive"?

Posted by: gposner | June 17, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse


Coward liar Barack HUSSEIN Obama "Apologist in chief", how can he keep his nonsense promise during his campaign, that is, negotiating with U.S. enemies such as North Korea and Iran, which have never respected any treaty with U.S., especially when North Korea just launched many missile and nuclear tests and illegally arrested two American journalists Laura Ling and Eunu Lee, while Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, an extremist who has called for Israel to be wiped off the map and denied the holocaust, again defied U.S. and Europe with his racist hate speech against Israel at a U.N. anti-racism conference? Is Obama going to bow to Kim Jong Il and Mahmoud Ahmadinejas as he did to King Abdulla of Saudi Arabia to gain his peace deals? Is he willing to convert to Islam, his Kenyan father and Indonesian step father's religion, to meet Osama Bin Laden's requirement that in order to end the Iraq war, U.S. troop withdrawal is not enough, Americans must reject their democratic system and embrace Islam? Just recently, Obama said that he would support Iran's right to peaceful nuclear energy with rigorous inspections, giving a green light to Teheran's ambituous uranium enrichment program, which can be used for its discreet nuclear bomb development program as well, without suffering sanctions and economic isolation as it currently endures. Does Obama want Iran to become another North Korea using its nuclear power to terrorize the U.S and its allies? As for a Palestinian state demanded by Obama, it will undoubtedly soon become a TERRORIST state under control of terrorist militant group Hamas, which is the most powerful and popular force with its goal to destroy Israel and which won a majority seats in the current Palestinian National Authority in 2006 election and ousted Fatah militant group of Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas of Gaza in 2007. Last but not least, Obama ordered to stop waterboarding tactic used by CIA, even it worked well on terrorist suspects like Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-describer planner of 9-11 attacks who provided CIA with valuable information, preventing more 9-11 attacks and saving thousands of American lives.

Posted by: TIMNGUYEN1 | June 17, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

As usual, GOPers recommend not thinking before reacting and speaking. He has handled this marvelously, and the GOP's jealousy is being exposed almost daily now.

One day, Kathleen, the GOP will have their Obama. Until then, grow up and quit crying like all the old men do.

Posted by: ScottChallenger | June 17, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Yes, this could be a time for the GOP to undermine this country one more time. If only you could talk President Obama into heeding your own self-serving advice.

We have no moral authority to interfer in the elections of another sovern nation than they do in ours. Mouthing off is mouthing off. They didn't ask for our opinion and given their past history with the U S, they wouldn't trust that we were acting in their best interest. We were not, I repeat, not welcomed as liberators in Iraq. After slaying over 100,000 Iraqi civilians, they want us out of their country and will undoubtedly hate and mistrust us for decades to come.

When did the definition of democracy cease to mean government by the people. Unless you are a citizen of Iran then you aren't one of the people.

Posted by: xclntcat | June 17, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Parker states that Obama should
1. Urge the [Iranian] government to respect free media and the flow of ideas.
2. Condemn the detention [by the Iranian government] of citizens whose crime has been to protest an election.

Of course, Parker was completely against free media and flow of ideas when numerous US organizations were asking for information about the Bush administration. So, apparently, this respect she asks for is for nonUS countries only.

Parker has never condemned the detention of several hundred people in Guantanamo who didn't anything--not even protest. Again, these detentions occured under Bush (and alas, still continue under Obama).

Finally, when the USA "supreme leaders" determined that the 2000 presidential election was valid (despite evidence of fraud and failure to count all the votes), Parker again did not protest that.

Perhaps the warts she sees are her own.

Posted by: Kicab | June 17, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

The current coverage of Iran shows that US media does know right from wrong. Of course, only if the resistance is against a political enemy.

Had this been Gazans against Israel, Iraqis against the US puppet, or those against Karzai / Muabark, the treatment would've been silence, if not outright condemnation. One would have to look at foreign press to find any coverage.

Fame and fortune to those who write against the official enemies. And those raise a mirror to ourselves are often ridiculed and sidelined.

As for the whole nonsense about Obama not interfering, journalists are playing the novice game. US is interfering on the ground through CIA and local groups. Money is flooded to the opposition to stir up resistance. The vengeful and imperialist minds in DC have not forgotten the shame and embarrassment brought by Iranian revolution & Mullahs to overthrow US imposed Shah. Finally, to get back at the Mullahs. Yes, the rhetoric is missing. Monetary & political support is always better than dropping bombs to bring 'change'. So no complaints there.

Posted by: rodeo23 | June 17, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Parker (and Kagan) will find it inconceivable that the oppostion might not care about having our "moral support;" but the opposition will remember that we supported Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war, and we shot down Iran Air flight 655 in 1988, and we overthrew an elected leader there in 1953. Oh well, anything inconvenient that happened more than a month ago is to be forgotten, when you are Parker, Kagan and their ilk.

Posted by: fallschurch1 | June 17, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure if this is true of Obama, but many people who are reluctant to see him speak out are motivated by their belief that the U.S. has no moral standing in the world, or at least that it should not have such standing. In Iran, the argument looks like this: hey, 56 years ago we helped install the Shah, so who are we to talk? The same theme works in Latin America, Southeast Asia, etc, etc. People of this mindset feel that our nation is crippled by its sins (or as some would say, the unsavory actions it took when faced with a range of unsavory actions from which to select). On a personal level, one might ask, how can you go out and protest the war if you once spanked your kid?

Life is complicated. Leaders of nations make hard choices. Sometimes they are wrong. Sometimes they make good decisions that turn out bad. But a nation does not surrender its moral authority by virtue of those actions.

Posted by: Compared2What | June 17, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

We, the West (but especially the United States and UK) have a rather inconvenient history of meddling in Iran...1953: not just a little monkeying around... bloody, subversive interference, backing a coup against an elected leader, which condemned Iran to despotism for some 25 years, with a backlash of hostility that has characterized our relations with them ever since.

In that context, the louder we praise any faction or party in Iranian politics, or condemn another, the more we harm the very interests we speak out for. Should I suspect that Kathy Parker already knows this, and just pretends she doesn't?

Posted by: Observer44 | June 17, 2009 4:41 PM | Report abuse

I forsee a budding career for Ms. Parker as Sarah Palin's foreign policy adviser.

Posted by: dgblues | June 17, 2009 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Why do even sensible Repubs like Parker have this desire to hear Presidential schoolyard bluster at every opportunity. Maybe it's time to quietly tighten the noose on idiots in Iran and North Korea which is what Obama appears to be doing.

I realize the Ms. Parker had to dig to get quotable opinions but Bill Maher for God's sake!!

Posted by: glynnjp1 | June 17, 2009 5:39 PM | Report abuse

The hatred for this President has blinded those on the right to any sense of restraint or common sense. We see the same vocal crowd that got us into Iraq (in pursuit of “democracy”) crowing about the lack of intervention in the Iranian elections. Just like in the Iraq war real people will die because of U.S. intervention and those who cheered it on will be safe in their cozy little cocoon.
So, I believe the president is right in carefully calibrating any actions that he might take vocally or otherwise in reaction to what’s going on in Iran. Because any sane person can see this is a very delicate situation in Iran and this is not the time to act hastily, besides nobody knows what intelligence or briefings he’s receiving about this situation, not even Rush Limbaugh.
I believe a smart man would sit back and accumulate as much ‘ammo” as possible before going into combat. And that is exactly what this President is doing without creating or encouraging booby traps along the way.
The problem with the Repub.’s… they spend their wad within the first 2 minutes, fake the rest and have nothing left for “crunch –time.” Perhaps, Ms. Parker has grown accustom to being constantly short changed by her manly men, in pursuit of “democracy.”

Posted by: gw1spoon1vote | June 17, 2009 6:02 PM | Report abuse

Kathleen Parker writes:

"Rather than expressing passive concern, he should actively urge the Iranian government to not use violence against peaceful demonstrators. Urge the government to respect free media and the flow of ideas. Condemn the detention of citizens whose crime has been to protest an election.

Isn't that the least we should say?"

I'm sure that Obama's muttering those boiler-plate cliches will drive the Mulluh's past the tipping point. Yup,it will just make them thrown in their turbans and run.

Posted by: RadicalGlove | June 17, 2009 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Ms Parker--I would be interested in reading a column from you reacting to all of the above
comments from your readers. I have always read you with interest but agree with the majority of responses that seriously question your advice to Pres. Obama. I shake with dread when I think of what today would be like with McCain as president. I am so grateful to all who voted for our wise Pres. Obama.

Posted by: beverlyjean | June 17, 2009 6:24 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Kathleen that Obama could be standing a bit stronger for free speech and human rights in this situation without taking sides in the electoral dispute.

But... that being said, Obama's strength is normally his impulse not to be confrontational. Maybe we should try it his way for a while. He might advance human rights and free speech better over the long haul by respecting Iran's process rather than just assuming fraud.

Do we really know who won that election? I read an article by a pollster recently who expected on the basis of independent polling the result that apparently just happened in Iran. That doesn't excuse government repression, of course. But it might mean that we need to be a bit cautious about what we assume we know. Maybe Mahoumad A. was REALLY re-elected without significant fraud by the Iranian people.


Posted by: pastordon | June 17, 2009 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Funny that the punditocracy seems to be united in their disappointment in Obama's deft approach to this situation. Especially the conservative pundits, some of whom are labeling it as weakness.

What's especially entertaining is that someone with actual experience with Iranians, Nicholas Burns, who was the chief nuclear negotiator with Iran under George W. Bush (of all people) thinks that Obama is striking exactly the right tone:

Leave the opinions to the pundits, and the real work to people who have experience and people who are in charge.

Posted by: jmoore76 | June 17, 2009 6:48 PM | Report abuse

To an ally, or dependent, you scream, give direction, point out what you expect of them. To an adversary, you give wide berth when it comes to the internal affairs. Pressure has always back-fired (witness 2003 when Bush helped the Mullahs to defeat a popular movement) (For that matter, where were all these, typically Republicans, when Bush sent Scrowfort to Beijing in 1989? -- They cheered the pragmatism).

So: to Iran, you point out that you expect the will of the people to prevail; to Israel, you state that it stops settlement building and expansion or you cutoff the $$$. It's that simple.

The 'experts' always advocate the reverse of what history has taught us.

Posted by: AMviennaVA | June 17, 2009 7:33 PM | Report abuse

Come on... any support from the United States to the protestors in Iran will undermine their credibility. You have to know nothing of the recent history of the Middle East to believe otherwise.

Posted by: scrane1 | June 17, 2009 8:01 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Parker, have you no shame?

"the U.S. stands strong against tyranny and the suppression of free speech" -- Right, like the U.S. did in our own elections in 2004? Puh-leeze.

Posted by: rangeragainstwar | June 17, 2009 8:07 PM | Report abuse

Part of the CHANGE President Obama is talking about is not inserting America into another situation that can only cause us more grief. I love how people want the President to do something, say something. When he does he will have to back it up somehow. Hey, let's spend money in Iran showing them we believe in Democracy. The very same people complaining about what President Obama isn't doing are the same ones complaining about the money he is spending.

Posted by: catmomtx | June 17, 2009 9:16 PM | Report abuse

Sure wouldn't want to be fighting for freedom and democracy in a Dictator suppressed foreign land and hoping that America would be speaking out and showing support. Not with Barry "I Am Not a Muslim" Soetoro in the White House. He is the last that would be looked to for support. He has a tough time saying the word Democracy. Individual freedom is something he is not comfortable with. If his Controlling Central Government is not honored he gets angry. Barry is one Creepy Radical Clown.

Posted by: FraudObama | June 17, 2009 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Obama is doing the RIGHT thing. The last thing the U.S. needs is for Iran to make it a U.S. vs Iran problem rather than just an Iranian problem.

Posted by: maritza1 | June 17, 2009 9:46 PM | Report abuse

The Coward-n-Chief. This isn't HOPE, it's the Clinton Administration all over again!

Posted by: cschotta1 | June 17, 2009 10:03 PM | Report abuse

Rodeo23 (post June 17, 2009 4:10 PM) has it right: "Had this been Gazans/2nd class Arab Israelis against Israel...the treatment would've been silence, if not outright condemnation..." I mean who's talking about of the daily humiliations of these people under occupation? Not Ms. Parker.

So Ms Parker speak up

Posted by: amndoye | June 17, 2009 11:11 PM | Report abuse

Well, it's pretty simple, isn't it? America's president is no longer the leader of the Free World. The American people got what they voted for.

Posted by: ThisIsReality | June 17, 2009 11:16 PM | Report abuse

Meddling by the US is no help at all, say the people of Iran. You're wrong.

Posted by: ikea1 | June 17, 2009 11:32 PM | Report abuse

Funny, unlike Ms Parker, I'm actually IN contact with friends in Iran who are out on the streets. They're quite happy with the response they see in the foreign press and from this American president. They're big boys and girls, and this is THEIR revolution, thank you very much.

Unlike Ms Parker and most other nominal conservatives, they see (correctly) that the entire universe really doesn't revolve around the United States of America and whatever its President has to say.

Posted by: Marcus3 | June 17, 2009 11:42 PM | Report abuse

Posted at 6:35 pm by Glenn Reynolds

JAMES TARANTO: Events in Iran catch President Obama flat-footed or voting "present" : )

“Speaking very broadly, there are two possible outcomes in Iran now. The regime may succeed in crushing the opposition, Or it may fail to do so and be weakened or overthrown.

The free world has every interest in encouraging the latter outcome, and someone ought to bring the leader of the free world up to speed on the events of the past few days.”

Posted by: pvilso24 | June 17, 2009 11:52 PM | Report abuse

When a Police Officer is called to a residence because of a "Domestic Quarrel" it's pretty well expected that some point the couple will unite & turn on the Police Officer.
There's alot to be said for just using good ole common sense. President Obama has both feet planted firmly on the ground & he knows what he's doing.
Beyond a doubt, his silence about Iran really is golden.

Posted by: JoeNTx | June 18, 2009 1:57 AM | Report abuse

The president is right to stay mum on this issue; sometimes its not what you say that counts but what you don't say...

Posted by: edmundsingleton1 | June 18, 2009 5:00 AM | Report abuse

You're kidding, right? Not that funny, but we all make mistakes and just apologize when we think better of a joke. So apologize and we'll all forgive you and we can go on.

But if you're really wanting us to believe you think it would help the protesters in Iran to have the President of the United States come out strongly in favor of them, then I don't know what to do.

I've observed in the past that you're not stupid, so this is puzzling. Surely you're of a comprehension more similar to Foreign Relations pro, and real grown up, Republican Sen. Dick Lugar, and not so much the let's-not consult-with-the-Iranians-we'd-like-to-win-to-see-what-they-like-us-to-do goofballs in Congress? Ask if they'd like the President to publicly and vehemently support them, or urge them to do what they're already doing so it will look like we're interfering in their election? Hear if they think this would help the bad guys turn it into a fight about us? You know, see what they'd like us to do? It seems so simple! Call an Iranian you trust, ask him/her/them the question: what would be most helpful to the protesters? You would apparently be shocked, just shocked, at the answer. You wouldn't be alone amongst Republicans if you decided to actually think about this though, Sen. Lugar understands the area and situation very well and he thinks the President is doing just the right thing. Exactly. Sen. Lugar understands words having meaning and the way other people take them isn't always how we think they should or will, that words have historical context.

Get real and stop this pretend. Grow up. Please. You're gonna get people hurt pretending you're Patrick Henry, only it will be students in Iran who'll do the dying. Grant the people of Iran, who are out in the streets silently sitting down as the secret police arrive in the square with rifles and clubs to hurt them with, the respect of understanding that they don't need us explaining justice to them, telling them what to do, or what we just URGE them to do... Please. Stop being silly--do you think you're in a grade B movie from the 50s? Vaclav Havel and anyone else can say what they want to say, and more power to them, but do you seriously think anything he says could be used as evidence that the protesters are just being stirred up by the Americans, just like they (we) did in 1953? I mean seriously, are you nuts? Because I don't believe you're stupid, and I don't want to believe you'd practice the smallness of political advantage-seeking at the cost of what's right for Iran and the United States and a better life for those people in the street, who are doing something very brave and dangerous and they don't need us muddying their waters. Please stop and think.

Posted by: martgreen | June 18, 2009 5:21 AM | Report abuse

Being defender of human rights and democratic principle requires that you apply that defence and protection universaly and selectively.
You cannot very well defend human rights in Iran and close your eyes to what Israel is doing the palestinian in Gaza. You cannot call for upholding democratic principle for the Iranian and tread upon those principle when comes to the palestinians as it is the case with the victory of Hamas in the Palestinian elections.
Being selective in your defence of these prinicple becomes hypocricy unworthy of a nation that wants to claim the moral high ground.
Besides, just because Mousavi managed to summon ten of thousands of people in Tehran does not mean that he is right and the other camp is wrong.
According to official accounts he lost and lost by no small margin. Assuming their was some fraud in the election one can hardly emagine that these fraud would make much diffrence to the result which gave him 34% against Ahmadinejad 63%.
May be Obama is being sensible hear and doesn't want to say something that may make him look stupid later.

Posted by: iztamimi | June 18, 2009 5:53 AM | Report abuse

Iran's problems are Iran's and if their people are going to create change they don't need the impression they are under foreign influence.

As the country that once played a major part in overthrowing democracy in Iran we should keep our mouths shut. If anything Obama has said too much already.

Posted by: timothy2me | June 18, 2009 7:00 AM | Report abuse

You just don't get it. Being supported by, or associated with, America would be the kiss of death for the Iranian freedom movement. The monstrous hubris of the Bush-Cheney Neocons has nearly destroyed our standing in the world and made us pariahs in the Muslim world. It is presently impossible for the United States to play any constructive role in Iran other than staying out of the way.

Posted by: wbgonne | June 18, 2009 7:37 AM | Report abuse

Only two years ago, Obama was barely a wet behind the ears freshman senator. It has been pointed out that as such he does not have the long public record on anything, let alone Middle East politics that others on the U.S. national stage have developed over time. Compared to those who have sought and attained the White House Obama has in fact, hardly even broken ground on this front.

He has obvioulsy paid for his inexperience in the larger arena with China and Russia assuming the role of upperclassmen who basically stuffed him and his "serious consequences" in a locker regarding both N. Korea and Iran's defiant missile tests.

In Chairo however, he took his blank canvas before the world and started painting some broad initial strokes aimed at defining a himself and his policy as: based on trust, ending violence and mutual respect. Undeniably, the lack of any previous record at all was turned into an obvious advantage and he did score some points.

While Obama can sometimes be a bit smug on a personal level, he also demonstrates an ability to put it aside on a presidential level by learning quickly from his mistakes. For this I applaud him.

With regard to Iran, Obama now seems to have chosen to look before he leaps instead of employing the common U.S. practice of preaching down our noses at everyone else. In other words, the country that cannot get it's elections right in Florida and Michigan after more than two hundered years seems to be actually offering Iran the same trust and mutual respect it asked for in Chairo.

Posted by: artyanimal | June 18, 2009 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Parker either doesn't know a great deal about the US history with Iran, or chooses to ignore it for the purpose of her article. Since the end of World War II, the US has either bungled every interaction with Iran, or made it worse by meddling. Installing Mohammad Reza Pahlavi as Shah in 1953 was both. I doubt anything but a very cautious approach, and a very hands-off policy will do anything but play into the hands of the mullahs.

Posted by: ElectricBill | June 18, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Mr. President:

Don't listen to your critics! They would criticize you regardless of what you might do. Your approach to the Iran situation is right on the mark. One can always identify those with no foreign policy experience by merely reading their comments. Stay the course. We have lost enough of our young people needlessly.

You have told the world that we respect each nation's sovereignty. Stick to that message.

Posted by: Formerrepublican | June 18, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

"It is up to Iranians to make decisions about who Iran's leaders will be. We respect Iranian sovereignty and want to avoid the United States being the issue inside of Iran. What I would say to those people who put so much hope and energy and optimism into the political process, I would say to them that the world is watching and inspired by their participation, regardless of what the ultimate outcome of the election" -B.Obama

And what is this? Ms. Parker, are you saying that this is NOT an acknowledgment for the democratic process in Iran? Yes, he doesn't scream it so loudly his spittle can be felt in Tehran... but that doesn't diminish the message.

The events of the past few days are beginning to tell us that the Obama response was the right card to play. Its not our country, we should stay out of it, while simultaneously encouraging the Iranian people to participate as fully and freely as possible in their own election process. It would be foolish to enter into a game we have no chance of winning. It would be a IR nightmare for the US, no matter which side we chose.

In a democratic election there will always be losers. Picking sides isn't what makes you an advocate for democracy, Ms. Parker.

Posted by: trident420 | June 18, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Kathleen either doesn't know the history of American-Iranian relations, or doesn't care.

Her foolish and trivial sniping at Obama is simply part of movement conservatism's broken record approach to a Democratic president.....criticize him, no matter what it is.

Posted by: bluester | June 18, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

I'm grateful Obama is saying and doing nothing in public. It's not our business. To become enmeshed, even just with words, in Iran after Iraq & Afghanistan? No thanks.

Iran has done well without our support for 30 years. I'm sure they'll be fine. And if not, there's nothing we can do. Not enough money to help the whole world. Does that GOP want us to "nation-build" everywhere now?

Posted by: Matthew_DC | June 18, 2009 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Lose Parker, bring back Froomkin!

Posted by: imback | June 18, 2009 8:48 PM | Report abuse

With the loss of Froomkin, The Washington Post now appears to be dominated by neocon columnists that see history, reason, and solid analysis as something to be ignored in lieu of ineffectual bluster. Parker, the Less-Than-Great Iran expert who has talked to somebody who has talked to somebody else who says they are in Iraq, is what we have to listen to now. A discouraging day, to say the least.

Posted by: tvez | June 18, 2009 11:24 PM | Report abuse

Dan Froomkin gets fired and this shallow, trite-mouthed bimbo still keeps her 'job'?

Did Rupert Murdoch just buy the WaPo? What a stunningly bad message this sends.

Perhaps it was President Obama's recent public speeches in the Middle East that have furthered the cause of 'trusting' American democratic principles -- but airhead here would no doubt like us to bomb bomb bomb Iran -- another wingnut hack that has never been near a war zone opinionating us all into further bloodshed in the name of WASP America.

When Dan Froomkin next appears somewhere, that's where my subscription dollars will go, and not to Fred Hiatt's grand white-right flag and this bevy of superficial, thoughtless, sickening, neo-con goons.


Posted by: Frank57 | June 19, 2009 12:17 AM | Report abuse

Why so impatient? Why won't you let Iranians deal with their own issues? Would the US like it if a powerful outside force got in our business? We don't like it when the government intervenes let alone another country. What happened to do onto others as you would have them do onto to you?

Instigation will not help democracy unfold any faster. And since we have no PROOF of wrongdoing, we shouldn't even hint that there's been any. Imagine how much of a fool we'll look like if we but in with some sort of fraud argument and there turns out not to be any! Sound familiar, .. Iraq, nuclear weapons, ... right ..

As outsiders, I daresay it is better to be passive against true fraud (and let the Iranians deal with the fraud) than it is to be aggressive against the Iranian regime when the elections were fair.

Remember, the president said he likes to know what he's talking about before he speaks, .. thank goodness!!

Posted by: breyean | June 19, 2009 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Ideology above reality.
The comments posted on this article reflect this un American personality cult that is ignorant of history,the moral values upon which this democratic republic based on the principles of Liberalism has at the minimum held as ideals. It is one thing for the Pres to remain neutral in the face of a spontaneous actions of a people compelled to protest their disenfranchisement by an authoritarian regime. It is another for our President to side with the Mullahs who enslave Iran and to endorse Amanadinejad as no different then Mousavi. Apparently hundreds of thousands of Iranians feel differently and some have even given their lives. I guess our all knowing living g_d knows better. Today Khamenei still blamed it all on The UK, Israel and the US. He endorsed the insane Amanadinejad ideas as being the same as his. He has threatened violence against any more demonstration and has banned them. If Mousavi who Obama feels is no different then Amanadinejad doesn't toll the line he will be exiled. The Brits have called in the Iranian ambassador to protest the tone of Khamenei's speech. The EU took the unheard of stand of issuing a statement to Iran stating that it's behavior relative to the democratic elections in it's own country calls into question it's reliability to honor nuclear agreements. Obama will most probably send a delegation to congradulate Ahamdinejad on his great vitory and bomb Tel Aviv to demonstrate his solidarity with Iran's goal of killing all Jews. He might even order the Navy to escort the North Korean ship transporting nuclear materials to Iran or Syria.

Posted by: djfeiger | June 19, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

About the 1953 coup. The freely elected government who had come to power in a coup against the Shaw's grandfather was unstable and corrupt. The Russians were about to attempt a Communist coup which the CIA preempted. The Shaw was less ruthless then the Mullahs. Obama's apology was one of Irans preconditions to enter discussions. I wonder if he will try to begin a dialog with Obama Bin Ladin? After all it was the British and US inspired cuop of 1923 when the radical Saudi Clan overthrew the Holy Guardians of the Holy cities of Mecca and Medina and illegally claimed their nation of Saudi Arabia and banished the blood line decedents of the Holy second Prophet Mohammad to Amman and the nation of Trans Jordan the Brits created for them out of 70% of Eastern Palestine. It's this desecration and US support of the Saudi Clan that is the basis of Osama's hatred of America.

Posted by: djfeiger | June 19, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

It is very sad to see how many people check their own reasoning and sense at the door and trust in the savior Obama.
As he shifts with the polling winds, you start to get a crick in your neck trying to prop him up.
Are you ashamed of the history of the U.S.? Think Mossadeq should have been able to turn the oil fields over to the Soviet Bloc? Forget about the Cold War (free world versus totalinarianism)?
The apologists who patronize a liberal rag like this newspaper are showing their true colors: celebrity worship, racism, and hypocrisy. Just come out and admit it, you think the U.S. is not exceptional or great, you think Socialism is the answer, and you think our military should be dispensed with as soon as possible.
If Obama had any backbone or true belief in liberty and democracy, he would stand up to the corrupt regime, and not be scared that they won't like him.
What a spoiled ninny he is. Never had to work a day in his life! Affirmative action, yay, the new "silver spoon".

Posted by: johnL1 | June 19, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Parker, we in Europe have seen it all before: The US gallops in all puffed up and pretending to be all-powerful and all-seeing (like God), but then immediately lets the locals down big-time "because they are not sufficiently grateful" (read: subservient). Leave the Iranians alone, their elections and their desire for reform (WITHIN the confines of the Islamic Republic) are none of our business. Democracy has to come from within, not from without.

Posted by: jochebed | June 22, 2009 7:02 AM | Report abuse

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