Wednesday, June 17, 2009

NRO wants US to Openly Support Iranian Opposition

Specifically, Peter Wehner thinks so.

This is an important, and potentially a decisive, moment in Iran; it is hard to know what will eventually emerge from the popular uprising we are witnessing. The situation is quite fluid, and may be for some time to come. How President Obama deals with this matter — whether he takes actions that show tangible support for the forces of liberation or whether he sits passively by as events unfold, nervous to offend cruel regimes — will tell us a lot about him and his core commitments.

Is he retarded?

The best way to help crush an opposition movement in Iran is to give credence to the inevitable charges that the reformers are agents of Teh Great Satan.

Anything we do should be done quietly, very freaking quietly.


ish said...

Is this the magazine with the initials NR made up of stupid Republicans or the one with the initials NR made up of stupid Democrats? I can never keep them straight, and do my best to ignore them both (this quote being just one reason).

In addition to the reason you already stated, there's also the excellent track record of revolutionary movements with US backing (ask the Kurds). Stupid all around.

Jennifer said...

I'm not sure I understand the "retarded" and "stupid" comments about an opinion on what US policy should be with Iran. I think that this is a very complex situation in a region made up of people who are very different from us and may be incomprehensible to the average American who hasn't studied the people and the way they think in great depth. I know it's complex enough that the experts themselves disagree vehemently. But you guys must know a lot more about the region than the experts to know what ideas are retarded and stupid.

In full disclosure, I initially would have agreed with TRSW's belief that US support would only invoke a brutal shutdown of demonstrations. But that was my naive opinion based on little concrete fact. However, I happen to know one of the experts, and his opinion of the Persian mindset is that World approval is just the thing that they need to strengthen their resolve and to gain the confidence required for a chance to achieve freedom. Our being quiet or neutral will make them question their motives and suppress their actions. All they need to flame the fire is our open approval and support, and they will be able achieve their freedom on their own. Being sneaky and clandestine will have the opposite effect and ultimately will make the US the villain once again for meddling in other nations' affairs. I don't know which path is the correct one, but I sure as heck place a lot more credence on my expert's knowledge than my amature one. This is why you can't have policy based just on feelings, and it helps to actually listen to someone who knows what they're talking about. Or if you still disagree, at least value the expertise enough to refrain from dismissing them as stupid or retarded.

As far as the Kurds comment goes, I'm reading that as sarcastic. But from it, I can tell that ish is an expert on the Kurds. Therefore, I'm sure ish realizes that the Kurds have the greatest sense of independence and self-reliance of all the tribes in Iraq and are by far out-performing all the others in areas of economic success, freedom (including that of the women), peaceful co-habitation, and many other areas that we would hope for a people to achieve. I guess that outcome is what is stupid all around?

I don't know why this is a stupid thing. I can only guess. Maybe someone that has never had to live without freedom can't appreciate the value of a great sacrifice paid in order to achieve freedom. But the Kurds understand it, and for at least a few generations they will cherish their hard-won freedom in the tangible memory of what it cost them. But there I go being stupid again. Maybe someday, I, too, can become so enlightened as to pity them rather than admire them.

The Really Sarcastic Weasel said...

The Sarcastic Weasel is an expert on everything. Please reference the blog tag-line.

I would like to make clear (more clear) the difference between support from the people of a country and support from the government of a country. They can be different and accomplish different aims even in a republic where they are, theoretically, supposed to be the same thing.

The US government is constrained by diplomatic realities: the effects of past official support for two Iranian villains (the Shaw and Saddam), support of Israel which, while proper, does not make us popular in majority Muslim countries, and an established track record of being used as a pretense to discredit reformists.

The people have fewer such constraints. In that respect, we do need to voice our support and galvanize as much world opinion to that end as is possible. I understand that large swaths of the world (and US) population is ignorant, apathetic, biased, or too busy (legitimately so, in many cases) to care. It is still, in my opinion, the more reliable looking approach for creating a positive outcome (taking an approach from the set of approaches available to the West). More so than official condemnation from our savior-in-chief. This is opinion. If your expert disagrees, well, I know your expert; I refuse to defer to him, but would be (intellectually) troubled (to the point of examining my analysis) if he does disagree with the slightly clarified point above. I suppose one reading of my post is that I choose to characterize opinions that differ from this one as being inferior enough to warrant name calling. Poor (rushed) writing on my part.

My comment on Peter Wehner is based on what, specifically, he says as well as how he says it. It is very clear from his language (unless he is as sloppy as I have been) that he sees this situation, not as the potentially monumental historical event with long-lasting repercussions inside and outside of Iran, a potential turning point in the history of the Middle East, but as a political cudgel to hurt Obama with. It is clear that, for many Republican writers, the only possible interpretation of a measured tone from Obama is that he is weak, not a show of (attempted) pragmatism. Which is stupid. I picked on Wehner, because the quote was at my fingertips. There was a lot of this at the time.

Maybe a forceful proclamation of fraud and a thorough repudiation of the ruling junta is the better approach. That is debatable. Making easily refutable statements about an extremely popular executive however, will not win back power. This is retarded. Particularly when there are so many legitimate things to criticize him for. I say this as someone who hopes that to see an effective opposition party organize itself in time for 2010 elections but instead sees (thinks he sees) a party imploding, catering exclusively to its base, and setting itself up for years of futility similar to what the British Tories are only now emerging from (with the great help of a major scandal).

I should stay out of the Kurd issue entirely since a.) it's not my comment, and b.) I am not aware of a US supported Kurdish revolution. I am aware of more than a decade of commitment to no-fly enforcement over Kurdish areas of Iraq that we did uphold rather admirably. On the other hand, we did kind of imply to Iraqi Shiites that we might support them if they were to move against Saddam at the end of the Desert Storm operation... many of them listened and we didn't follow through. The leaders of that movement are generally dead today.

The Really Sarcastic Weasel said...

The preceding comment proved two things.

1.) I am capable of the same kind of prose/clarity destroying parentheticals that mar pretty much everything that Christopher Hitchens writes.

2.) Signing in as the blog owner as you post a comment does not satisfy the captcha bot. I'll lock myself out of this thing yet.

ish said...


SW states my point fairly clearly. There is nothing stupid about revolutionary movements. The stupidity in my uninformed opinion is thinking that spoken US support can have a major impact on those movements especially in areas where they are largely reviled.

I'm not an expert on the timeline, but I believe that the Kurds were caught up and slaughtered every bit as much if not more by our promises to support their revolution in '92. Certainly the no-fly zone had a major impact, but again, that is much more than speeches.

I'm quite pleased to see the Kurds gaining the freedom they seek. But my understanding is that it is due to the independence and self-reliance of which you speak, and not because of proclamations in Washington. Perhaps there was a magical speech in DC that caused this to happen, but I missed it and do plead ignorance in that case.

Anyway, given that the option of any sort of military intervention is highly ill-advised in Iran, and given our track record of supporting revolutionary movements as stated, I think to do so again here and expect a different result is unwise. I hope this language is less offensive.