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How Obama is aiding Ahmadinejad

The New York Times reports that opposition protesters in Iran, in between beatings and tear-gassing from riot police and the regime’s hired thugs, have started a new chant:  “Obama, Obama -- either you’re with them or you’re with us.” 

In case you were wondering what the answer might be, the statement yesterday from White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said it all.  Gibbs declared that Obama administration officials were following reports of the unrest and “hope greatly that violence will not spread.”  This was a great moment in the annals of diplo-speak.  No mention of who might be committing the violence, or who might be its victims.  Violence, it seems, has the capacity to spread without any human involvement. 

The point of the statement, of course, was to avoid saying anything that might offend the rulers in Tehran or give any encouragement to the regime’s opponents. The Obama administration is locked into its approach on Iran and is seemingly impervious to changing circumstances. It has never adjusted to the unexpected rise of a nationwide opposition to the regime and still tries to move forward as if there were no turmoil and unrest in Iran.

But the excuses for remaining silent about the opposition are running out. When the administration first adopted this studiously indifferent stance after the fraudulent election in June, officials insisted it was for the opposition’s own good. The opposition allegedly didn’t want American support, even rhetorical. Many bought this argument at the time, but it ought to be unsustainable now. The opposition clearly would like support from Obama.

The regime is using the Obama administration’s overweening desire to talk -- and refusal to take “no” for an answer -- as a way of deflecting any international pressure regarding its domestic crackdown. And the regime's strategy is succeeding. The longer the Obama administration plays this game, the more time the regime will have to crush its opponents while the West looks on in self-imposed impotence.

Unpleasant as it may be for the president to hear, his policy is objectively aiding the Tehran regime and harming the opposition in their ongoing struggle.

The chanters are right. The United States can either be with them or against them. Right now, President Obama is against them. But it’s not too late for him to switch sides.

By Robert Kagan  | November 5, 2009; 2:27 PM ET
Categories:  Kagan  | Tags:  Robert Kagan  
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I have pointed this out before, but it is a point worth repeating: Kagan is a Chicken Hawk who's credibility is totally shot everywhere except the WaPo. Anyone who pays the slightest attention to his huffery puffery is not wise.

Posted by: mikehike | November 5, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

love to see how this hack presumes to speak for our president. i daresay mr. obama can say for himself about who he's "for" or "against."

Posted by: jimfilyaw | November 5, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

I doubt that many protesters are taking to the streets over concerns that Iran might get a nuclear weapon. There's no guarantee that Iran's economy would be any better managed by non-Mullahs, or that women in Iran would be freed from Islamic restrictions by other so-called "moderates" in Iran. So, what would be the point in trying to stir up more unrest in Iran? Kagan and the neocons have this dream that someone like Mubarak would arise in Iran who would cease to threaten Israel and Arab neighbors. That's not likely to happen, even if there's secular revolution in Iran, because Iran is threatened by the Saudis and the Gulf Arab states who are trying to stir up unrest among Arabs in their southwest and Baluchis in their southeast.
So, I support Obama and I think he's doing exactly the right approach, except he should have done everything he could to keep Turkey from pre-maturely expanding relatoins with Iran. That was very unhelpful to US interests.

Posted by: ripvanwinkleincollege | November 5, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Oh! My! God!

Why does this clown still get column space?!?

Posted by: kurthunt | November 5, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

"in between beatings and tear-gassing from riot police and the regime’s hired thugs"
Mr. Kagan would prefer that the beatings, tear-gassing, as well as bombing and shooting be done by American troops I suppose. Were we to follow his lead, we would invade Iran and turn it into another Iraq. The beating, maiming and killing would be for the "right" reasons, at least. I have yet to read a Kagan column that suggests a plan. All he provides is criticism, and as the old saying goes, if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. Kagan, you are a problem.

Posted by: mdonnelly1 | November 5, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Hey Mr. Kagan, never heard you say anything about the innocent women and children that the American troops killed in Iraq and Afganistan. At least the Iranian protestors were only beaten, not killed.

Posted by: August30 | November 5, 2009 5:00 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry, what do you mean by "self-imposed impotence?" Our impotence is not self-imposed. It is objective. It is not in our power to determine the outcome of events in Iran.

There are three reasons for Obama taking the position he is taking. First, our endorsement could open the protesters to charges of being foreign stooges, a charge that carries weight in Iran. Remember that the protesters have been trying to claim many of the symbols and thus legitimacy of the Iranian Revolution for themselves (pictures of Mosadegh, night time rooftop chants of Allahu Akbar), not carrying pictures of Hamilton and distributing copies of the Federalist Papers. If some protesters have been calling for Obama's support, this is not to say that they speak for the entire movement.

Second, we are engaged in negotiations with the regime over their nuclear arsenal and we have to try to exhaust non-military options before resorting to military ones. Alienating the regime over an opposition movement unlikely to prevail in the short term could jeopardize our chances of a negotiated settlement and make it harder to bring states like Russia and China on board if they fail (and I admit this is the more likely outcome in any case).

Finally, what leverage do you think we have? What would Western potency look like? Am I missing something? Do you really think our moral support would bring the regime crashing down? Or does a bold stance simply appeal to your testosterone driven sensibilities?

Posted by: Ken4 | November 5, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Negotiating and diplomacy never works with rogue states. Old USSR, Cuba, N. Korea, Venezuela, etc. It never worked and it never will. This president man-child does not understand, that he is being played for a fool by Ahmadinejad, and other rogue leaders, and he thinks that he will accomplish something because he is nice and willing to talk. How naive can Obama be?

Posted by: jmk55 | November 5, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

The gall.

Posted by: rlj1 | November 5, 2009 5:45 PM | Report abuse

In next week's article, Kagan will explain how Obama actually led the rebel angels in the war against Michael and the archangels. Can't wait!

Posted by: chert | November 5, 2009 6:20 PM | Report abuse

How do you sleep at night?

"The point of the statement, of course, was to avoid saying anything that might offend the rulers in Tehran or give any encouragement to the regime’s opponents."

"The chanters are right. The United States can either be with them or against them. Right now, President Obama is against them."

You are so much worse than your average run-of-the-mill liar and putrid scumbag, Kagan. Do you have a soul?

Posted by: emilio1 | November 5, 2009 6:35 PM | Report abuse

WOW a Neocon Fantasy Writer


Posted by: Issa1 | November 5, 2009 6:39 PM | Report abuse

and iran can thank the kagan klan for their preeminence over that region. had the neocons not gotten their war, iraq could still be playing the counter to their influence.

Posted by: mycomment | November 5, 2009 6:49 PM | Report abuse

The real crime that Iran is guilty of is standing up to the USA.

Does anyone wanna suggest who the Chicken Hawks will go after once the US bombs Iran?

1. Iraq
2. Iran
3. ??? who is next? they must have oil and a weak army.

Posted by: jgrasse | November 5, 2009 7:07 PM | Report abuse

This is a new low, even for a hack like Kagan. Ahmedinijad and the rest of the Iranian fanatics are strong today because of the policies of fools and chickenhawks like Kagan. Bubba, you just get yourself a bazooka and head over to the streets of Tehran. Why not do yourself what you want others to do for you?

Posted by: gposner | November 5, 2009 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Since neocons and their fantasies created the space and the opportunity for the new, more aggressive Iran, their scolding now is particularly inappropriate. They should be embarrassed to do it. But, alas, evidently, they are not.

Posted by: Dean41 | November 5, 2009 7:08 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Kagan reminds me of the boy who cried wolf!

Nobody believes him anymore.

We all remember that it was a traitor in the Cheney/Bush White House who blinded America to what is going on in Iran.

Time that act of trechery was properly investigated.

Posted by: walker1 | November 5, 2009 7:08 PM | Report abuse

..."President Barack Obama doing a great job as President cleaning up a Republican mess that will take decades to do. Iran doesn't have 200 nukes but Israel sure does, Iran never bombed civilian populations like Israel did in GAZA, and committed WAR/CRIMES but Israel sure did.

In conclusion, President Barack doing all he can to repair the "GREAT/DAMAGE/DONE/BY/REPUBLICANS/to/America's/image/fact.

I hope Israel knows it is in real trouble and I hope Israel knows the world knows it, and Iran should be the last country in the world Israel should be worried about as the world worries about Israel.

Posted by: ztcb41 | November 5, 2009 7:12 PM | Report abuse

I urge all posters to read the New York Times link that Mr. Kagan has so helpfully provided. When you do, it will be clear that Mr. Kagan has deliberately cherry picked the protesters' chant from the article to support his simpleminded position. In fact, as the article indicates, the situation is more complex and nuanced than Mr. Kagan would care to admit.

But, why let complex reality stand in the way of preconceptions?

Posted by: MillPond2 | November 5, 2009 7:21 PM | Report abuse

Mr Kagan is certain, of course, that American interference in their affairs would be welcomed with open arms by Iranians, as much as they welcomed Americans' supplying of their enemy Saddam Hussein with poison gas for use against them, or the U.S.-engineered overthrow of their legitimate government in favor of the shah.

Posted by: lewfournier1 | November 5, 2009 7:22 PM | Report abuse

Fred Hiatt, the very fact that Robert Kagan still gets to use your bullhorn shows the lack of integrity that oozes from your every pore. Shame on you.

Posted by: Dollared | November 5, 2009 7:23 PM | Report abuse

And just what is the President supposed to do? These critics like Kagan make a great deal of noise but I notice that he, like the others, doesn´t give any specific recommendations about what the US can do.
Name calling is not exactly a show of strength. But then I suppose Kagan, Limbaugh, et al, just want to bomb, bomb, bomb. Funny thing, though: a lot of the anti-government protesters would also get killed in any such attack.

Posted by: Aquarius1 | November 5, 2009 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Too bad Kagan wasn't among the 11 people shot today at Ft Hood. They died for his lies.

Posted by: playa_brotha | November 5, 2009 7:41 PM | Report abuse

Isn't it even more interesting that Ahmadinejad's support by the Iranian people inside of Iran was at it's peak when George W. was making those threats of a full scale US military attack on the country?

Yet under our current Administration, by keeping it's lips sealed, working with the Iranians, we're beginning to see the internal turmoil building, making Ahmadinejad weaker to where he is now making concessions.

Kagan the Chickenhawk should keep his nose out of areas he has no business or knowledge of.

Posted by: helloisanyoneoutthere | November 5, 2009 7:47 PM | Report abuse

I'm tired of neocon Jewish American contributors at WaPo (Kagan, Kristol, Krauthammer, Hiatt) trying to tell the rest of the world how to handle Arab states. I truly hope Ms. Khan wins the pundit contest. Not only is she a thoughtful and gifted writer, she would bump up the ratio on the opinion pages to 2/11.

Posted by: wturecki | November 5, 2009 7:57 PM | Report abuse

Kagan relentlessly continues to push the neo-con agenda remaining blissfully unaware of the contemporary developments in Iran. Such as the development that Iranian leaders are in total disarray, fighting among themselves for power, and incapable of responding to ANY foreign policy initiative from ANYONE, even, and especially, THEMSELVES.

Posted by: cms1 | November 5, 2009 7:59 PM | Report abuse

What's the sound of a chickenhawk--Mr. Kagan?

Posted by: axolotl | November 5, 2009 8:26 PM | Report abuse

"How Obama is aiding Ahmadinejad"


About writing a column about "How cheney, rumsfeld/bush let OBL escape in Tora Bora to Pakistan" and to be protected by cheney/bush's Billions of U.S. tax payer dollars friend Musharraf.

Posted by: knjincvc | November 5, 2009 8:28 PM | Report abuse

Do you a think Mr. K's concept could be the seed of a grant from some wingnut sugar daddy to the make-war institute run by his better half?

Posted by: axolotl | November 5, 2009 8:31 PM | Report abuse

What a ludicrous article. Ahmadinejad thanks you.

Posted by: revbookburn | November 5, 2009 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Obama is hellbent on taking away our freedoms, so why would he be inclined to aid people who are fighting for theirs ?

Posted by: palmettostatesman | November 5, 2009 8:45 PM | Report abuse

Kagan, Kristol, Krauthammer, et al--get lost!!!

Posted by: dangerosa | November 5, 2009 9:11 PM | Report abuse

This column is simply offensive.

There are many, many ways to criticize this and any administration's foreign policy without stooping to accuse a President of the United States of aiding an enemy.

Shame on the Washington Post for publishing this kind of low political filth.

Posted by: washpost29 | November 5, 2009 9:45 PM | Report abuse

so, obama is, either unwittingly or otherwise, aiding and abetting the president of iran, our sworn enemy, according to kagan.

ah, nostalgia. i'm old enough to remember the time when the head of the john birch society accused the president (eisenhower) of being the willing dupe of the communists. the msm promptly questioned the accuser's sanity, and the general public dismissed him as a nut. even buckley questioned the man's grip on reality.

how times change. today the combat avoiding kagan is accorded deference of the first rank when he questions the president's courage and patriotism. it is as if these bizarre comments were intelligent and reasonable. the msm seems to have lost the ability to spot a nut.

Posted by: jimfilyaw | November 5, 2009 9:45 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Kagan, it's not too late for you to switch sides either. Go ahead--enlist and live with the consequences and risks of your failed policies. It might build character.

I suppose we can't blame you or Bill Kristol for deluding yourselves into thinking you have something useful or truthful to say about ANYTHING, given your awful track record. But we can blame the Washington Post for enabling you--and I do.

Honestly, aren't there any neo-cons/Republicans/conservatives out there with ethics, integrity, and actual insight? How about newspaper editors? Or would that be oxymoronic?

Posted by: BlueDog1 | November 5, 2009 9:47 PM | Report abuse

Kagan: You are a hack...pure and simple. Please go away.

Posted by: rbaldwin2 | November 5, 2009 9:57 PM | Report abuse

Bomb, bomb, bomb.....bomb,bomb Iran. Oh you chicken hawk neocons. Endless war, kill the OTHERS, God speaks to me.

Thank God we finally have an intelligent man in the White House, a man who talks to others instead of killing them.

Posted by: chucky-el | November 5, 2009 10:37 PM | Report abuse

I have a solution. Tell Israel that either they end the 21st century Warsaw ghetto that is Gaza, or we the United States will provide a security curtain for Iran against all attack, conventional or otherwise, from any and all sources, especially Israel.

There! Problem solved!

Alas, given our perverse co-dependency with our so-called "ally," Mr. Kagan can breathe easily that nothing so rational will ever happen.

No, our so-called "ally," who expects much and contributes nothing but trouble, who does nothing but paint a target on our back by using weapons we provide to exact mass retribution for acts of terrorism, this country imposed into existence in lands not ours to give, this nation for whom the very act of questioning is twisted into accusations of bigotry, this nation has never subscribed to nuclear non-proliferation but fully expects it from everyone else.

So, here we all sit, watching these intransigent madmen, Arab and Jew, walk us all to the very edge of our existence.

And, poised to give us a good shove as we approach the precipice, we must endure the corpulent parasites along for the ride, and their incessant public bludgeoning of any political figure who dares waver even slightly from what AIPAC, Joe Lieberman, the Mossad, and the kooked-out Rapture-ready end-timer followers of the Reverend John Hagee would have us implement as Middle East policy.

Never has an axe been so conspicuously ground as has Mr. Kagan's.

Posted by: trippin | November 5, 2009 10:52 PM | Report abuse

Kagan hardly has much credibility with his shining record:

Kagan supports sanctions. Sanctions hurt the very people that are protesting this brutal regime. I dont suppose Kagan would like to explain his line of reasoning in another op-ed? The great American hypocrite.

Posted by: member8 | November 5, 2009 10:56 PM | Report abuse

"How Obama is aiding Ahmadinejad"
This is one of the most ridiculous phrases I have seen. He forgot what his friend Cheney did the past 8 years, so he also aided the Iranian regime! We could talk more as everything in the article is ridiculous, but there is a point in responding to trash talk.

Posted by: farid-f | November 5, 2009 11:04 PM | Report abuse

This is one of the most ridiculous phrases I have seen. He forgot what his friend Cheney did the past 8 years, so he also aided the Iranian regime! We could talk more as everything in the article is ridiculous, but there is not a point in responding to trash talk.

Posted by: farid-f | November 5, 2009 11:04 PM | Report abuse

Hey Kagan,
The ones who REALLY helped the repressive theo-thugs of Iran were the chicken hawk neo cons who sold Bush the idea of eliminating Saddam who was the only threat Iran had in the region. Now, thanks to you, Kristol, Krauthammer, Perl, Wolfowitz, Cheney and Rummy, it has none, and feels free to project some of its power. Great job Kaggie!!!!

Posted by: rkerg | November 5, 2009 11:09 PM | Report abuse

From the NYT article cited (but not quoted in any context) by the unspeakable Mr. Kagan:

"But his political enemies, both conservative and reformist, have seized on an opportunity to humiliate him, and have assailed the nuclear plan as a surrender to the West"

So it seems the protestors are against the deal that would limit Iran's nuclear activity to power production. That is, they are using A's willingness to negotiate against him. Kind of puts paid to any simplistic response from us, doesn't it?

I have another question for Mr. Kagan and his clucking friends: If we wanted to invade Iran, what would we use to do it? We are stretched to the breaking point both financially and in terms of manpower. If you really want to unify Iran in opposition to the US, try bombing them. Works every time (ask the Germans, or the N. Vietnamese, or the Brits)!

Posted by: jprfrog | November 5, 2009 11:09 PM | Report abuse

Thanks to people like Kagan, and the interests they serve, this country is becoming as ungovernable as Bolivia.

This article is beyond the pale. Truly shameful.

Demonstrates that Kagan actually is what most of the posters here said he is.

Thank you posters!!!

Posted by: FedUp1 | November 5, 2009 11:10 PM | Report abuse

Obama is a naive wimp!! He is destroying the Middle East! Abbas will not run again, Pakistan and Afghanistan are in chaos, Iraq in Limbo, and Iran ready to overrun the whole region!

Posted by: jjcrocket2 | November 5, 2009 11:26 PM | Report abuse

Usual neo-con rant and nonsense. They think Obama should follow the foreign policies of John McCain or Dick Cheney. Somehow I doubt if most warlike neo-cons were as critical of Bush II for not overthrowing the Iranian government.

The either you are for or against us is a typical Bush-Cheney-neo-con Neanderthal mentality.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | November 5, 2009 11:49 PM | Report abuse

Why don't you join the military and put on a unioform and put yourself on the front lines if you believe so fervently that opening three or more fronts is such a great idea??? We could sure use the help, and you might even get the chance to put your money where your mouth is!
Damn Chicken-hawks.

Posted by: jeffc6578 | November 5, 2009 11:57 PM | Report abuse

I am not a fan of neoconservativism, however, Kagan has some points here.

Even if Obama wanted to avoid war outright, then at least make a stand that shows you are for real, and not afraid to lead, more than just words for these people. They are revealing they came out because of hope they had in him in the first place, he owes it to them. Were Obama not elected, essentially they are acknowledging they would not have risked their lives and went to prison protesting. Plain and simple.

Again and again, Obama the masterful speaker who lacks genuine conviction, a lot of people already have seen this trait for a long time, however voted for him to avoid worse alternatives.

Posted by: joshmw | November 6, 2009 12:10 AM | Report abuse

Compassionate and pious Robert Kagan. Protector of Iranians protesters. I wonder if Israel were to bomb Iran - as I am sure Mr. Kagan and his little (but physically large) brother anticipate with anxious enthusiasm - and those same Iranians were to become justifiably angry, would Mr. Kagan still be rooting for them?

Posted by: atlasfugged | November 6, 2009 5:01 AM | Report abuse

Shorter Kagan: Cluck-cluck-cluck-brawwk!

Posted by: hellslittlestangel1 | November 7, 2009 4:26 PM | Report abuse

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