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Obama's New Strategy on Iran

At a press conference earlier this afternoon, President Obama opened with this about Iran:

The United States and the international community have been appalled and outraged by the threats, the beatings and imprisonments of the last few days.

I strongly condemn these unjust actions, and I join with the American people in mourning each and every innocent life that is lost….
In 2009, no iron fist is strong enough to shut off the world from bearing witness to peaceful protests of justice. Despite the Iranian government's efforts to expel journalists and isolate itself, powerful images and poignant words have made their way to us through cell phones and computers. And so we've watched what the Iranian people are doing….
As I said in Cairo, suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. The Iranian people have a universal right to assembly and free speech.
If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect those rights and heed the will of its own people. It must govern through consent and not coercion.

This is a terrific statement from the president, showing how powerful his moral leadership can be when he chooses to exercise it. Clearly Obama finally rejected the advice of those who claimed such a strong statement would hurt the opposition. Just as important, it signals a major shift in strategy toward Iran -- a recognition that the best hope for a negotiated settlement rests not with the regime but with the people of Iran.

Now that the president is fully in sync with other world leaders, especially Nicolas Sarkozy, Angela Merkel and Gordon Brown in Europe, he might want to consider convening a summit, where they can discuss what measures the U.S., Europe, and other democracies can take jointly to offer support for the opposition and to persuade the regime in Tehran to cease its violent crackdown. These democratic countries are ready for him to step forward and provide leadership at this historic moment.

By Robert Kagan  | June 23, 2009; 2:58 PM ET
Categories:  Kagan  | Tags:  Robert Kagan  
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Next: Obama Takes the Next Step on Iran

Comments

OBAMA FOLLOWS REPUBLICAN LEAD.....

decides NOW to criticize Iran.

What else has changed?

Of course, Obama is AWAYS ready to criticize Israel.

OBAMA--Clueless

Posted by: JaxMax | June 23, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

What a bizarre column. How would Mr Kagan have felt back in 2000 at the time of the stolen US election if the Iranians, Russians, North Koreans etc had convened a summit to discuss what measures they could take jointly to offer support for Al Gore? Would he have considered that a productive step? Kagan, we know you don't really want a summit. You want the missiles put on standby and the troops massing along the Iran/Iraq border. Republicans don't really care about what Obama says. They want more war. More meddling. More death.

Posted by: gposner | June 23, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

You chummy with Hiatt, Mr. Kagan? Thousands of post readers are demanding to know why Dan Froomkin's column was asked, and the Washington Post just ignores them like the Mullahs of Iran. The washington post and its remaining columnists have no credibility left to lecture anybody on anything.

Posted by: August30 | June 23, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Since the excesses of the Bush administration, the abuses at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, etc the US has NO moral authority to criticise any other nation. When it comes to the crunch the Washington administration is no better than Tehran, or any other. It will torture, maim, kill, fix elections and violate international law (which it does not even acknowledge) whenever it suits the convenience of the powerful.

Posted by: chawil | June 23, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Somebody took a new poll; the approach changed.

Posted by: clankie | June 23, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Kagan's ability to take credit for Obama's strategy is shameless and well anticipated. The POTUS may not have signaled his intentions clearly enough for Kagan to recognize them through his GOP monocular, so it should not surprise anyone that Kagan bit on Obama's cautious move out of the gate. Although Kagan does not realize it, Obama played the Ayatollahs like he played the GOP following his inaguration; Step 1)approach your advirsaries with an olive branch (but don't assume they're acting in good faith), Step 2)let them slap your hand away, Step 3) show the world you have the superior position and go about your business. Check and mate, Mr. Kagan. You've been pwned

Posted by: Mik3D | June 23, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Kagan's ability to take credit for Obama's strategy is shameless and well anticipated. The POTUS may not have signaled his intentions clearly enough for Kagan to recognize them through his GOP monocular, so it should not surprise anyone that Kagan bit on Obama's cautious move out of the gate. Although Kagan does not realize it, Obama played the Ayatollahs like he played the GOP following his inaguration; Step 1)approach your advirsaries with an olive branch (but don't assume they're acting in good faith), Step 2)let them slap your hand away, Step 3) show the world you have the superior position and go about your business. Check and mate, Mr. Kagan. You've been pwned

Posted by: Mik3D | June 23, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Repugnants like Mr. Kagan wants to nuke all Muslim country or as McCain said bomb! bomb! bomb! Iran (indiscremetanty). It is good to see that they have changed their mind "for the time being".

It is good that Repugnants appreciate the fact that most Irani people are just like us, but they are ruled by a group of religious extremist (like Repugnants).

Obama has changed Mideast without spending our money. Repugnants spend 2 trillion and failed to bring any change.

Posted by: SeedofChange | June 23, 2009 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Find out more about how Neda’s Death highlights Women’s role in Iran Protests. http://pfx.me/vP

Posted by: InformationDesk | June 23, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Enough about the "stolen" Florida election. The N.Y. Times, Washington Post, USA Today and other members of the mainstream media arranged for a joint study after the controversial Florida election in 2000.

The study concluded that Bush would have won Florida even if Gore's demand for a full recount of the votes had been met.

Google NY Times Florida and you can see its story in 2001 which repudiates the claim that the Florida election was "stolen."

It's really time for Bush-haters to move on. In that regard, does anyone here REALLY think President Obama and the U.S. have no moral authority?

Posted by: vrytix | June 23, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Robert Kagan is always fighting the last war while hoping to fight a new one. I do not know why the Post gives his neoconservative views an audience. Next to Krauthammer, he's one of my reasons for no longer subscribing to the Post. The paper has some good columnists and investigative reporters, a vanilla editorial page unable to write a declarative sentence -- "We would hope that......", but has chosen to put its reputation in the hands of people who were wrong eight years ago and are still wrong. Its op-ed guests preen and distort and represent themselves as analysts and experts, none of which they are. What a shame for a formerly reputable newspaper.

Posted by: harper-d | June 23, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Last year Neoconvict Kagan and his Rethuglicans (ie John Lamebrain McCain)were gleefully advocating bombing Iran, this year, they are ALL for promoting the Iranian people's right to form a democratic government!!! It's really pathetic to witness such hypocritical hosedung whenever it's applied to either Iran or the broader Muslim world!!!And JaxMAx, don't get your panties all up in a wad, POTUS doesn't have the stones to do anything other than offer transparent rhetoric to your precious ISRAEL, with his assertions that the US will ever hold the jewish state accountable for any violation of international law!! Pigs will fly before that happens!!!Thanks to AIPAC and its reptilian stranglehold on this craven coward congress,that parasitic pariah is forever assured of receiving its annual $5.5 billion of American largess from US taxpayers!!

Posted by: SMMajid_1 | June 23, 2009 4:38 PM | Report abuse

I heard this statement and have now read it, and see nothing in it that the President did not say in Cairo, no change in strategy. Perhaps Kagan, like the rest of the neo-cons was too busy damning the Cairo speech as too evenhanded to notice what the President really said - words that may well have ignited a 'Democratic Spring' across the Arab world. (Or maybe the Arabs have just figured out for themselves that archaic tyrannies don't work).

Posted by: mgferrebee | June 23, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Mystifying...

how does this guy, Kagan, get away with writing this garbage? Total, utter wanking.

Posted by: dmls2000 | June 23, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

For Kagan, a summit would be preparation for his solution to everything: Bomb it into submission!

Posted by: philston | June 23, 2009 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Kagan is always hot for invasion. Can we send Cheney to Iran? The last time we overthrew the Iranian government we sent the CIA's Kermit Roosevelt, Teddy's grandson. Go Cheney go, take Kagan along with you!

Posted by: drWU | June 23, 2009 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Kagan's call for a summit is a worthless suggestion at this point. What exactly, does he think an American-European summit will accomplish? Does he think that, because supporters of Mousavi are contesting the election results, they will automatically embrace this summit as a true display of empathy? Mr. Kagan should know that Mr Mousavi is no "boy scout". Were he in power, I doubt that the opportunity for diplomatic or military options would be much different.

What is needed is for the West is to adopt a patient "wait and see" approach, determine what the protestors truly desire, and THEN act accordingly.

There is nothing that has filtered through the limited media coverage indicating that the protestors, because of their opposition, automatically have a political agenda that meshes with Western interests. It is not a given that the protestors are any less committed to a nuclear program, particularly a weapons program that would be perceived as a both a security shield and a source of Iranian influence in the middle east.

It is interesting to note that Mr. Kagan sees solidarity with European countries as a desirable goal. The previous administration had a lone gunslinger attitude during the preparation for the Iraq invasion. I don't think that Mr. Kagan thought that that was an intemperate approach at the time. Funny how the times and changes in administrations alter attitudes.

Posted by: MillPond2 | June 23, 2009 6:18 PM | Report abuse

Without the active support of Russia and China, any further sanctions will likely fail. With Western resolve along with the passive support of Russia and China, the protesters might succeed in the long run.

It's nice to see Mr. Kagan finally come to see cooperation with "Old Europe" as a good idea. He might also listen to those Iranian expatriates who say it's the changed tone of President Obama which gave the opposition the room to take their case to the streets and the world of public opinion.

If the Iranian government continues to repress the people, we will have to seriously reconsider any negotiations with them and their brutal leaders. Those who steal elections with this kind of naked vote cheating cannot be trusted to keep their word on treaties. Witness the way North Korea's leadership has broken every agreement made with every President in recent years.

Posted by: kcbob | June 23, 2009 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Obama wisely waited for the Mullahs to make a statement condemning the U.S., foolishly trying to connect their dissidents to the USA.
The world knows the USA had no involment in the demonstration.
The GOP goal was to take the focus off health care and more importantly keep the price of oil high.

Posted by: knjincvc | June 23, 2009 7:58 PM | Report abuse

I'm somewhat impressed that Mr. Kagan's "next step," apparently, does not involve unilaterally invading Iran and expecting to see the populace greet us with sweets and flowers. I'm still suspicious, however, that he may be a neoconservative in sheep's clothing.

Posted by: ejs2 | June 23, 2009 8:21 PM | Report abuse

Kagan wants Obama to convene a summit to support the Iranian opposition? How stupid does he really think we and the Europeans are? Plenty stupid, is the answer.
However, he does have some Republican precedent to fall back on. Remember 1991, after the Gulf War, when George H.W. Bush called out, time and time again, for the Iraqis in the Southern part of that country to rise up and overthrow Saddam? Remember all the pamphlets dropped on that country and the speeches by Bush calling for the so called, Marsh Arabs, to rise up and complete the job Bush didn't finish then? He wanted THEM to get rid of Saddam and gave them the impression that we would help them.
Well, oops, Bush let Saddam keep an arsenal strong enough to slaughter all of those people.
Typical Republican strategy. Call for others to do the job they should have done in the first place.

Posted by: cms1 | June 23, 2009 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Kagan and his ilk are so focused on what they would have done, (muddle into a war, but that is beside the point) that they can't see the measured, incremental approach that is diplomacy when it works. With hold reaction until the situation clears. make meaningful, if minor, notice of the problems. When the opponent shows his hostility, by deliberately misrepresenting our position, post our position in a form that the opponents can't distort. Keep your cool and keeps your wits about you. Work with your allies, who will often be most of the rest of the world.

Show forethought and reasonableness.

All actions that these neocons would never consider, even should they have occurred to the warhawk arm of the neocon wing.

It keeps you out of wars you don't really need.
Kagan and his ilk are so focused on what they would have done, (muddle into a war, but that is beside the point) that they can't see the measured, incremental approach that is diplomacy when it works.

Naturally.

Posted by: ceflynline | June 23, 2009 9:07 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure President Obama will be the most successful President dealing with foreign governments since President Jimmy Carter.

Posted by: sperrico | June 23, 2009 9:07 PM | Report abuse

sperrico, you have GOT the Republican talking points down to a science. Paint Obama as Jimmy Carter. HEY! You got it!!
Weak, failing, thoughtless. Spineless. Stupid. Passive. And say it and say it and say it and say it. Until you believe it.
Oh, please, take us back to 1979, let's say the fall of that year, when, as it turns out, the Republicans were making secret communications with the leaders of Iran and oh, guess what, in the moment of Ronald Reagan's inaugeration the Iranians suddenly, without any previous hope of resolution, release Americans.
Oh, how weak and ineffectual a President is when his domestic political opponents are making secret negotiations with a foreign country in order to win an election here, or there, as the case may be.

Posted by: cms1 | June 23, 2009 9:22 PM | Report abuse

The change came when Obama gave his speech in Cairo. That speech encouraged people in the ME to ask more of their governments. Obama has the support of people in the ME in a way that no other president has achieved.

Obama is playing his cards very well and does not need advice from a person who has been wrong on so many issues... like Kagan has been.

Too bad the Post does not keep track of who has been accurate in predictions and who has been wildly off the mark. If they did they would get rid of some of their columnists.

But people like Kagan are driven by ideology and twist facts and their analysis to suit their ideology.

Posted by: colleenca | June 23, 2009 9:45 PM | Report abuse

Another gem from Big Bob, neocon scum. The Washington Post may yet approach the journalistic standards of the Moonie Times before it utterly fails.

Posted by: branfo4 | June 23, 2009 9:55 PM | Report abuse

Why exactly does the Post *continue* to give voice to the neoconservative lunatic fringe like Kagan here, or Kristol?

No wonder newspapers are losing ground.

Posted by: chris_meredith | June 23, 2009 9:58 PM | Report abuse

Kagan says, "Clearly Obama finally rejected the advice of those who claimed such a strong statement would hurt the opposition."

1. Actually your timing was wrong, and Obama's was right, to wait.

2. Interference is what is wrong and you keep wanting to interfere.

Obama should get back to the business of reigning in the Israelis. Most of this Iran coverage was a smoke show to pull attention from the international menace Netanyahu. Let's get back to strongly advising the nations we support with billions of our dollars, and let Iran be Iran.

Posted by: AIPACiswar | June 23, 2009 10:24 PM | Report abuse

sperrico You speak without any knowledge. Carter WON A NOBEL PEACE PRIZE for his foreign policy work, but you have the blinders that allow you to ignore that. I'm absolutely sure Jimmy Carter was and is a tougher, stronger, smarter, and more accomplished man than say, you.

Posted by: AIPACiswar | June 23, 2009 10:28 PM | Report abuse

why is this jackass still braying? or better yet, why is the wapo still giving him a platform?

if this paper's present publisher had been running the joint in 73, the names woodward and bernstein would mean nothing.

Posted by: jimfilyaw | June 23, 2009 10:35 PM | Report abuse

Kagan's opinion on what is or is not "moral leadership" might be worth a nickel if he weren't one of the major cheerleaders for the completely knuckleheaded invasion and occupation of Iraq, a country that at the time posed no imminent threat to the U.S. but subsequently became an incubator of transnational terrorism.

Posted by: rbjones1 | June 23, 2009 11:03 PM | Report abuse

I don't like Kagan as a person, but his opinion here is valid enough. And he's no Kraphammer. All you whiners ought to realize you are repeating yourselves not contributing something.

Think some, write it up, and offer it here. Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah I know we are supposed to hate the Kagans in general. Got it. Hear ya. Point made. I voted Nader, now what else have you got to offer?

Posted by: AIPACiswar | June 23, 2009 11:28 PM | Report abuse

Where is the outrage over Rachel Corrie?

Why are we holding the Iranians to a higher standard than we hold the Israelis?

Posted by: wthu | June 23, 2009 11:59 PM | Report abuse

To be honest, I didn't bother reading Kagan's article. The man is a fool. A fascist warmongering propagandist. He writes for the right-wing neocon hack rag Washington Torture Post, for crying out loud. Still waiting for John Yoo or Judy Miller to come on board. Really curious what they think about Obama's approach. What about Dick Cheney? He needs a column Hiatt.. You game?

Posted by: koolaid1 | June 24, 2009 12:05 AM | Report abuse

What a laugh!! lol

Kagan writes:

"Clearly Obama finally rejected the advice of those who claimed such a strong statement would hurt the opposition."

And "those" people are who? The fairies that live in your mind?

"Just as important, it signals a major shift in strategy toward Iran..."

How can you it's a 'shift' when it's been his strategy all along dopey?

"Now that the president is fully in sync..."

So you here you suggest he wasn't 'in sync' all along?

Interesting to notice that you now think the French President is someone 'to be in sync' with. You fringe-right wingnuts crack me up -- happy to use Sarkozy in your crap strawman only when it suits your fantasies -- otherwise you're renaming french fries. Go figure.

Keeping quiet while obviously taking care to analyze the situation, Obama now speaks out and you hysterical neo-con wack jobs think it's because *you* changed his mind?

You might be able to sell the Brooklyn Bridge to Billybob and Lulubell, but most people with more than a simple brain stem can see right through you Kagan.

What a waste.

.

Posted by: Frank57 | June 24, 2009 12:06 AM | Report abuse

Enough about the "stolen" Florida election. The N.Y. Times, Washington Post, USA Today and other members of the mainstream media arranged for a joint study after the controversial Florida election in 2000.

The study concluded that Bush would have won Florida even if Gore's demand for a full recount of the votes had been met.

Google NY Times Florida and you can see its story in 2001 which repudiates the claim that the Florida election was "stolen."

It's really time for Bush-haters to move on. In that regard, does anyone here REALLY think President Obama and the U.S. have no moral authority?
==============================
YOu and Kathleen Harris have no credibility. You stole the election, with held votes, kicked people off the Voting rolls, manipluated the voted count with the Diebold Machines..you did every decieful thing you could and still almost lost by your own accounting methods.

The whole world was watching..

Fei Hu

Posted by: Fei_Hu | June 24, 2009 12:12 AM | Report abuse

He said the same thing today that he said the day after the election and in his interview with John Harwood on cnbc. There's nothing new, the message has been the same.

It's the delusional ranters - neocons like kagan that have been discredited by experts - they're running a little cya now. The message has been the same.

Posted by: houston_progressive | June 24, 2009 12:14 AM | Report abuse

"This is a terrific statement from the president, showing how powerful his moral leadership can be when he chooses to exercise it."

Oho, so this is the game! The president's message has been consistent. I've actually been listening to him, see?

In a news conference someone asked Mr.Obama if he had finally decided to take advice from you guys. He just laughed and asked, "What do YOU think?" That's what I think, too.

Also, I think such "commentary" of this betrays you folks for the political opportunists we always knew you were.
You should be ashamed.

Posted by: martymar123 | June 24, 2009 7:40 AM | Report abuse

gposner writes:
What a bizarre column. How would Mr Kagan have felt back in 2000 at the time of the stolen US election if the Iranians, Russians, North Koreans etc had convened a summit to discuss what measures they could take jointly to offer support for Al Gore? Would he have considered that a productive step?
------------------------------------
Maybe not THIS group, but if our allies and friends did so, I would have seen it a possitive step. And, if it had worked, the world would be SO much better now...sigh.

Posted by: sux123 | June 24, 2009 9:25 AM | Report abuse

I can smell a sea change in Kagan´s views..a believer of the power and realisim talking about the strenght of moral leadership..how do you think about the EU when it talks about the normative power.still on the same lines or you have changed your mind.

Posted by: shaks37 | June 24, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse

As always Kagan is dead wrong.

It's not a new strategy.
Obama said he would talk to Iran, that he would give diplomacy a chance (something Bush never did).

Everybody knew there was going to be an election in Iran. Nobody knew the people would take to the streets.

When there's a new situation, you deal with that.

But there's no way anything Obama (or Bush, McCain or Kagan) say is going to make Khamenei hand over his power.
If Kagan thinks that he must be dreaming.

Standing on the sideline and shouting is not going do do any good. You might do it when your favorite team is playing a football game, it it will not change the outcome of the game.

Eight American presidents supported the regime of the Sha (from 1941 to 1979). That led to the Islamic Revolution.

It would not be a favor to the people of Iran to play the ball into the hands of Khamenei, by making him right when he say that the US is behind the protests.

Nobody have the right to ask the people of Iran to risk their lives on the streets of Teheran. They have to decide for themselves.

Just like nobody had the right to decide that Iraq had to be invaded, with more than 100 000 dead civilians as a result.

But people like Kagan don't care about that, to him it's just about strategy, geopolitics, and making the world safer for Israel.

Posted by: Supertzar | June 24, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Kagan was McCains advison on foreign policy during the 2008 campaing. McCain at one point joked about bombing Iran.

Do anyone belive that the protesters in Iran want the US to bomb their country?

Imagine that McCain had been elected, and was "vawing the flag of freedom" on behalf of the Iranian people. What a gift it would be for Khamenei to see the protesters be embraced by the man that wanted to baomb Iran.

Or imagine that McCain had bombed Iran in march. How many of the protesters would have been killed by Americans bombs? Would there be a climate for protest after that? Would McCain be able to speak to the people of Iran with any credability?

Posted by: Supertzar | June 24, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Actually, Obama was right to show some restraint at first. Iran's crackdown would have been much faster and more severe if he'd piped up very soon about the election. The simple fact is tha this is an Iranian matter and the American president isn't in control of the situation, and he shouldn't try. As the mullahs continue to make mistake after mistake and attack their own citizens, Obama is now increasingly free to criticize them with impunity--the clerics can't blame him for what they've already done, and they can't use it as reason for further repression.

Posted by: whizbang9a | June 24, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

The United States is now following Europe in matters of human rights and freedom in lieu of leading the free world. From the article:

"Now that the president is fully in sync with other world leaders, especially Nicolas Sarkozy, Angela Merkel and Gordon Brown in Europe, "

The whirring sound you hear is every patriot from our historic past spinning in his or her respective graves.

Posted by: JackESpratt | June 24, 2009 6:41 PM | Report abuse

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