In an interview on CNBC today, President Barack Obama made his strongest statement yet by proclaiming that his administration would not get involved in the post election protests in Iran. Obama said, “I think’s important to recognize is that the easiest way for reactionary forces inside Iran to crush reformers is to say it’s the US that is encouraging those reformers.”
Here is the CNBC interview:
Obama said, “The second thing that I think it’s important to recognize is that the easiest way for reactionary forces inside Iran to crush reformers is to say it’s the US that is encouraging those reformers. So what I’ve said is, `Look, it’s up to the Iranian people to make a decision. We are not meddling.’ And, you know, ultimately the question that the leadership in Iran has to answer is their own credibility in the eyes of the Iranian people. And when you’ve got 100,000 people who are out on the streets peacefully protesting, and they’re having to be scattered through violence and gunshots, what that tells me is the Iranian people are not convinced of the legitimacy of the election. And my hope is that the regime responds not with violence, but with a recognition that the universal principles of peaceful expression and democracy are ones that should be affirmed.”
Obama continued, “Am I optimistic that that will happen? You know, I take a
wait-and-see approach. Either way, it’s important for the United States to engage in the tough diplomacy around those permanent security concerns that we have—nuclear weapons, funding of terrorism. That’s not going to go away, and I think it’s important for us to make sure that we’ve reached out.”
Obama is correct to point out that by following the path of action that John McCain has called for, the United States would be giving the regime the excuse they need to crush to the protests. A loud public endorsement of the reforms would hurt their cause at this moment. Obama doesn’t want to be the valve that relieves the pressure on the regime.
I don’t think that anything good would come out of Obama either praising the reformers, or taking action against the Iranian government due to the results of the election. These protests could be the first spark of a bigger change in Iran’s future, but the fastest way to extinguish any momentum that the protesters might have is if the United States publicly championed their cause.