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Posted at 8:30 AM ET, 02/15/2011

Will Obama blow it twice on Iran?

By Jennifer Rubin

The Post reported:

Crowds of demonstrators battled security forces armed with tear gas and batons during a surprisingly large anti-government protest in the Iranian capital Monday that drew inspiration from the recent popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.

Dodging clouds of tear gas fired by police and pro-government militiamen, the protesters marched down a central boulevard and shouted slogans such as "Death to the dictator," "We are all together" and "Down with Taliban, in Cairo and Tehran." . . .The gathering in Tehran appeared to be the most significant anti-government protest here since security forces cracked down on a series of massive demonstrations in 2009. The size of the crowd was difficult to estimate. Some witnesses said they believed it exceeded 200,000. The Associated Press said tens of thousands of people demonstrated.

Having been virtually mute when the Green Movement erupted in June 2009 and having been slow and half-hearted in his support for the Egyptian Revolution, did Obama make any effort to get out ahead on the Iran protests? Well, no. The president was busy yesterday trying to sell his budget as fiscally responsible. And his new press secretary must have been at an undisclosed location (there was no presser yesterday).

And what did the Secretary of State have to say? Hillary Clinton answered this way in response to a reporter's question on the Iran protests and reports of phone jamming by the regime:

Well, first, let me very clearly and directly support the aspirations of the people who are in the streets in Iran today. All through the crisis in Egypt, we had three very consistent messages: We were against violence, and we stated it often and we communicated it directly to Egyptian authorities. Secondly, we supported the universal human rights of the Egyptian people. And third, we stood for political change that would result in positive outcomes that would give the Egyptian people a better economic and political future.

We believe the same for Iran. We are against violence, and we would call to account the Iranian Government that is, once again, using its security forces and resorting to violence to prevent the free expression of ideas from their own people. Secondly, we support the universal human rights of the Iranian people. They deserve to have the same rights that they saw being played out in Egypt and that are part of their own birthright. And thirdly, we think that there needs to be a commitment to open up the political system in Iran, to hear the voices of the opposition and civil society.

And I would add that what we see happening in Iran today is a testament to the courage of the Iranian people and an indictment of the hypocrisy of the Iranian regime, a regime which over the last three weeks has constantly hailed what went on in Egypt, and now, when given the opportunity to afford their people the same rights as they called for on behalf of the Egyptian people, once again illustrate their true nature. So our message has been consistent and it remains the same, and we wish the opposition and the brave people in the streets across cities in Iran the same opportunity that they saw their Egyptian counterparts seize in the last week.

In other words, she wishes them all the best. But what will the U.S. do? That she doesn't say, and that lack of affirmative action is also consistent with the administration's track record. There is no call for regime change and there is no indication we are planning any increased assistance for the opposition.

That didn't sit well with the House Foreign Affairs chairwoman, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), who issued this statement:

"The regime's oppression of the Iranian people has only grown since the rigged elections and suppressed demonstrations of 2009. The U.S. made a mistake then by not voicing full and vigorous support for Iranians demanding freedom and democracy. We cannot make that mistake again.

One way in which we can and must support the Iranian people is to use every tool at our disposal to sanction the Iranian regime officials responsible for human rights violations. The U.S. and other responsible nations must extend the present travel ban on high-ranking Iranian regime officials to include all in the regime responsible for repressing the Iranian people.

I further call on the Administration to impose all available sanctions against those in the regime who trample the human rights of the Iranian people, from the so-called Supreme Leader and Ahmadinejad, to the Revolutionary Guards Corps, and further on down."

Perhaps some oversight hearings are in order. The chairwoman and her committee should probe whether besides tweeting in Farsi the administration is offering anything more than lip service to the protesters.

By Jennifer Rubin  | February 15, 2011; 8:30 AM ET
Categories:  Iran  
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Next: Obama's centrist mask drops


I seem to remember a previous president having the temerity to call the Soviet Union an "evil empire". The media and political elite raised an eybrow and smiled condescendingly at this gaucherie. Then 1989, and walls crumbled and people were free.

Our president today is too refined to use words like evil in connection with the government of Iran. But the government of Iran is evil: brutal toward dissenters, murderous toward opponents, bloody toward Israel. Why is the President fearful in confronting this terrorist state?

Posted by: Roytex | February 15, 2011 8:59 AM | Report abuse

Maybe Obama should urge the Iranians to rise up and overthrow their rulers, like Bush Sr. did at the end of the Gulf War. Really, when will the comic-book style foreign policy critiques end on this blog? Within hours of your post about how Obama handled Murbarak, the latter was out. I would have thought that would have taught you a lesson. Apparently not. Here's some advice. When the best you can do to counter Hillary Clinton is to cite Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, it is best not to blog on a subject.

Posted by: oldabandonedbeachhouse | February 15, 2011 9:33 AM | Report abuse

I think that there is some kind of covert operation going on here and that like Charlie Wilson's War, the are trying to kick the Middle East's Heine and change the political landscape. Middle east and current issues…

Posted by: mastermind7526 | February 15, 2011 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Iran - welcome to the revolution, again! The majority of the middle east countries have been ruled by kings, dictators, military and religious dictatorships for centuries. Many within their population have observed eastern style freedoms and yearn for a "Democracy". Thus they yell, revolt, and riot, but at the same time continue to hold on to their religious convictions, which usually returns them to some misguided religious zealot for leadership. Polls show that over 86% of the population believe in executing anyone leaving their "religion", etc... You can not have true freedom and practice democracy without religious freedom. Thus their citizens, where about 40% are illeterate, and about the same number suffer from poverty, continue to be mislead by the religious authority and select religious theoracies as their government of choice. Further, they do not understand the responsibilities and duties of democratic freedooms. They will not ever change until their religion is "modernized" or abandoned. It is doubtful this will ever happen, thus we see all these perputual reoccurances of one dictator for another, where the citizens are living by the code of the feud, with each blaming the other for its cause, of blaming Israel or the eastern democracies. Now Iran is in revolt again. This time however, knowing the results in Iraq and Egypt, the Iranian government will exercise brute force and execution to keep its citizens from rioting and to maintain its control. Eventually most of the mid east countries will end up the same and direct then their hatred toward Israel and the USA. Will the USA protect our borders, our heritage, security, and international interests or have we become too "politically correct" to take a stand?
To save ourselves we must begin to take back leadership and adopt measures that once again protect us domestically and internationally. It has been shown that Omama can not be relied on. He has already demonstrasted inaction in Iran's recent previous revolution, where our opportunity for intervention was wasted. Will we have time for selecting the next President with better leadership qualifications? We will see. Monty Weddell Dallas, Texas

Posted by: moweddell | February 15, 2011 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Google News keeps picking up these Jennifer Rubin editorials as news- what do you expect from a computer program. I expect this kind of distorted rant in the Washington Times, but not in the Post. Is this in the name of balance?

Posted by: twotells | February 15, 2011 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Methinks Ms. Rubin's going to write a lot about this. Her two favorite subjects, Obama-bashing and support for all things Israel, delightfully coincide when discussing Iran.

How naive and quaint that the new House Foreign Affairs Chairwoman thinks she can sanction travel by Iranian officials to other countries or that it would have any visible impact on Iran's future plans. Who in the GOP thought this woman was qualified to head up this committee? Talk about a need for regime change.

Posted by: MsJS | February 15, 2011 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Or as Chairman Mao might say: “Let a thousand freedom fighters bloom, twice.”

Posted by: nvjma | February 15, 2011 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Jen Rubin = TOOL.

Posted by: PulSamsara | February 15, 2011 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Only China can bring the 14th century Islamic culture into the 21st century. If given the green light they can do it in six months.

Posted by: morristhewise | February 15, 2011 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is intellectually inadequate to chair her committee, just as Ms. Rubin is to writing her columns.

Posted by: rdklingus | February 15, 2011 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Hillary did not answer 3 am call but allowed the phone ringing for more than 15 days to answer. First few times, she passed it calling wrong number, then decided to pass the buck to Biden, who had energy drinks twice did well as cheer leader to Mubarak. Next few times she answered telling she is busy and when she took the call, it was too late. Obama had to rush from the White House and answered the call accepting the mistakes of Hillary, Biden and WISNER, the postman, who has delivered wrong envelope even though three more helpers were sent along with him to deliver the GREEN envelope only. Well, now she thinks that she had done her job well, but the history will say otherwise. Did she was taking order from Bill or some one else to reply that CALL?

Posted by: citysoilverizonnet | February 15, 2011 12:56 PM | Report abuse

American MEDIA, all Imperialist propaganda.

The USA does not want any country to self determine.

What Egypt needs is an 1979 Iranian styled revolution, kick all the CIA scum out of the country. Only when America and Israel are finally gone will the Egyptians be free.

Iran has become a reasonably self-sufficient state without US help over the past 30 years.

Posted by: Rubiconski | February 15, 2011 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Obama blew it in Iraq? Seriously? Last time I checked, Egypt seemed headed for democracy. And it was done without the U.S. dropping a single bomb.

Comparing Iran to Egypt is comparing apples to oranges. In Egypt, we had some sway over Mubarek that Obama could use. In Iran, our endoresement of the protests risks branding the protesters as tools of the U.S. Sometimes, caution and careful dipolmacy are better than some blunt, stupid, harmful statement that feels good.

Posted by: OC1Kenobi | February 15, 2011 4:24 PM | Report abuse

The Obama admin. and Hilary call Iranian leaders hypocrits.
Well, well, the pot call kettle black. For days a bloody demonstration have been going on in Algeria, and Bahrain. But not a single word of objection from Obama Admin, or Ms Hilary.
Iranians have mistrust of foreign hands, no matter how genuine may appear at the surface. Because the history has proven the foreigners can't be trusted(1952, CIA and British installed Shah), neither Iranian who live abroad can be trusted (Khomeinie was a prime example).

Leave Iranian alone, they are smart enough to make right decision for themselves, they don't need your comments Ms. Hilary nor Obama's. These remarks only make the situation worse for the opposition.

Posted by: abraham3 | February 15, 2011 6:04 PM | Report abuse

"The U.S. made a mistake then by not voicing full and vigorous support for Iranians demanding freedom and democracy. We cannot make that mistake again."

And what would this have produced? Some Earth shattering event that would have overthrown the Mulluahs?

Seriously Jennifer, have you learned nothing? The Egyptian Revolution was pulled off exclusively by the Egyptians. If there is to be one in Iran, it will be pulled off by the Iranians on their own. If they need us to intervene, the it's a coup, not a revolution.

Posted by: Shingo1 | February 15, 2011 7:02 PM | Report abuse

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