Reagan on the Soviet Union vs. Obama on Iran

Daniel Larison makes an excellent point against those critics on the right who feel that Obama’s rhetoric on the current Iranian revolt should be more reminiscient of Reagan’s comments to “tear down this wall” etc.

While we’re at it, let’s remember Reagan had leverage against the Soviets and the Polish government in 1981 because of all that dastardly detente, arms negotiations and the existence of trade relations with Poland. Thanks to thirty years of bankrupt Iran policy, we have very little leverage with the Iranian government, and this is a situation that the President’s critics would like to perpetuate indefinitely. If Obama’s choices are limited to remaining largely silent or saying something reckless, it is the result of thirty years of truly isolationist policy that the President’s critics have supported. Vilification, sanctions and hostility for decades have not made the regime more flexible, open or relaxed, but instead it has become even more inflexible, closed and repressive. Now we’re supposed to listen to the people who backed every failed policy towards Iran?

That’s exactly right. I’d also add that Reagan was more than willing to sit down and talk with the Soviets. Not to mention the fact that he actually signed arms reduction treaties. He also knew the wisdom of restraint when the times called for it. For example, when asked in 1988 if he still considered the Soviet Union to be an “evil empire”, Reagan said “No, I was talking about another time, another era.”

Of course, had he said something like that in today’s political climate, he’s be crucified by the right-wing blogosphere as feckless and a “surrender-monkey.”

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Alex Knapp
About Alex Knapp
Alex Knapp is Associate Editor at Forbes for science and games. He was a longtime blogger elsewhere before joining the OTB team in June 2005 and contributed some 700 posts through January 2013. Follow him on Twitter @TheAlexKnapp.

Comments

  1. ggr says:

    Did Reagan demand pre-conditions before talking with the Soviets? That lack of those seems to be one of the things Obama has been criticized for in the past, but I don’t remember hearing Reagan demanding that the Soviets make concessions before they even talked. Or Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon etc for that matter.

  2. capital L says:

    Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.
    This much we pledge—and more.

    Some awful reactionary said that once. It seemed to resonate with people, but what do I know.

  3. Eric Florack says:

    While we’re at it, let’s remember Reagan had leverage against the Soviets and the Polish government in 1981 because of all that dastardly detente, arms negotiations and the existence of trade relations with Poland

    Leverage he’d not have had, had he not come down like a ton of bricks on the Soviets over the their threats of a crackdown on the Democracy movement in Poland.

    You forgot, right?

    To this point, my new column is up today at Pajamas Media, on that very subject.

  4. brainy435 says:

    “He also knew the wisdom of restraint when the times called for it.”

    Just for you people who are seemingly behind the curve: Talking soft when times require you to talk soft and talking tough when times require you to talk tough isn’t anywhere close to talking tough when times require you to talk soft and talking soft when times require you to talk tough. You have just proven Regan was the former and Obama himself is intent on proving he is the latter.

    You also neglect to point out why, if Obamas critics need to shut up because they haven’t come up with a solution for Iran in 30 years, we should listen to his supporters, since they also have had ample failures in regards to Iran. Jimmy Carter, anyone?

  5. Alex Knapp says:

    Brainy –

    What was Carter’s failure in Iran? The Revolution? I fail to see how he was responsible? Hostages? He successfully negotiated the release of hostages and managed to do it WITHOUT exchanging them for arms. Cutting diplomatic ties? There I’ll give it to you. But Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush 2 all continued the same failed policy of isolation and sanction. Which is why we have no leverage over Iran today.

  6. kth says:

    Imagine if, in 1963, Khruschev had addressed the civil rights situation in the southern US, not with the expected and self-serving statements of reproach he no doubt uttered at the time, but with a full-on blitz, speech every day, proposing resolutions at the UN, with big blown up photos of Bull Connor and his goons with the dogs and the firehoses, the bombed-out churches, the burned-out cars of the slain freedom riders. How do you figure that would have gone over in Alabama?

    That’s exactly how an intemperate response from Obama would go over in Iran right now.

  7. Some awful reactionary said that once. It seemed to resonate with people, but what do I know.

    After destabilizing how many popular governments?

  8. Phil Smith says:

    This “the right want Obama to show his ass” with an “intemperate” statement strawman is friggin’ tedious, and it’s purveyors are mendacious twats.

  9. Phil:

    It happens to be true. Obama is handling this just right. The Iranians have asked for no more. Your side are behaving like jackasses, trying to score cheap political points while genuinely brave Iranians are putting their asses on the line.

    Stupid armchair heroes.

  10. kth says:

    ‘Twats’? wow, classy commenters you have here, Alex, James.

  11. Phil Smith says:

    It’s “intemperate” for the elected leader of the birthplace of modern democracy to simply state that shooting unarmed protesters is a bad thing; and those of us who think he should do so are jackasses trying to score cheap points.

    Got it. Do me a favor and trumpet that viewpoint.

  12. Phil:

    I will repeat the same question you and the rest of the neocons have refused to answer:

    How does pro-demonstration rhetoric from Mr. Obama help the demonstrators?

    Can you answer that?

  13. Phil Smith says:

    I’ve answered that at length on the previous thread on the topic. In brief:

    1. We can’t lose ground with the current regime. Simply observing that shooting protesters is bad costs us nothing with the regime, and since they are a)already shooting protesters and b)blaming us anyway, it’s hard to see how it hurts us or the demonstrators. With that out of the way,

    2. A simple recognition from the President of the US that your demonstration in the face of bullets is courageous will certainly lift morale. As Napoleon said, “Morale is to the material as three is to one”.

    3. If Mousavi (or some third party) comes out on top, our behavior today will be remembered negatively. So it’s in our interest as well.

    4. Finally, the president’s reticence tells the regime that they have a free hand as far as we’re concerned.

    His silence is a negative to the demonstrators, and a positive to the regime. You may find that “exactly right”, but I don’t.

  14. Alex Knapp says:

    Phil,

    2. A simple recognition from the President of the US that your demonstration in the face of bullets is courageous will certainly lift morale. As Napoleon said, “Morale is to the material as three is to one”.

    What evidence do you have that the Iranian protesters would feel this way?

    3. If Mousavi (or some third party) comes out on top, our behavior today will be remembered negatively. So it’s in our interest as well.

    Again, what evidence do you have that this would be the case? Remember, most Iranians have expressed through polls that they want more engagement with the West. Mousavi ran on a platform embracing same. What evidence suggests that Obama’s weighing in one way or the other will affect this opinion?

    4. Finally, the president’s reticence tells the regime that they have a free hand as far as we’re concerned.

    They know this anyway. As Larison said, we have no leverage. We can’t threaten to enact sanctions because we don’t trade with Iran. We can’t threaten to cut ties, because they’re already cut. Any military threat is unrealistic because of our troop commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan. Any aerial bombardment is out of the question because the regime knows that we’re not going to risk bombing the protesters. In short, there is no credible statement that Obama can make.

    Phil, honestly, what evidence do you have that the majority of the Iranian protesters would welcome any kind of statement from Obama?

  15. Here was my question:

    How does pro-demonstration rhetoric from Mr. Obama help the demonstrators?

    Here’s your answer:

    I’ve answered that at length on the previous thread on the topic. In brief:

    1. We can’t lose ground with the current regime. Simply observing that shooting protesters is bad costs us nothing with the regime, and since they are a)already shooting protesters and b)blaming us anyway, it’s hard to see how it hurts us or the demonstrators. With that out of the way,

    Not an answer. But silly nonetheless. They may be “blaming us,” but the propaganda is gaining no traction. Why not? Because they can’t quote a single line from Obama that supports it. And let me add: duh.

    2. A simple recognition from the President of the US that your demonstration in the face of bullets is courageous will certainly lift morale. As Napoleon said, “Morale is to the material as three is to one”.

    Napoleon missed WW1, which was when the machine gun put an end to his romantic notions of war. Morale doesn’t matter worth a damn if the other guy has more firepower.

    Second, the demonstrators don’t need any help with their morale. They are fighting for their own rights. They are not fighting for you, Phil, or for Mr. Obama, or for the US of A. It is not about us. Do you know the word “solipsism?” If not, look it up.

    3. If Mousavi (or some third party) comes out on top, our behavior today will be remembered negatively. So it’s in our interest as well.

    Your support for this? Has Moussavi asked us to embrace him? I just read his spokesman’s latest statement. Didn’t even mention us. In fact, Mr. Moussavi is thanking Allah we’ve kept our mouths shut.

    4. Finally, the president’s reticence tells the regime that they have a free hand as far as we’re concerned.

    They do have a free hand. They know it. You may not, but they do. We are not going to invade Iran. Have you read any history? Hungary 1956. Iraq after the first war.

    His silence is a negative to the demonstrators, and a positive to the regime. You may find that “exactly right”, but I don’t.

    Evidence? ANY evidence? I’m obsessively reading tweets and posts from Iran. Do you have any actual evidence that they want us to throw our loving arms around them? Are you simply incapable of imaging a situation where we are not at the center of the matter? It’s NOT ABOUT US.

  16. brainy435 says:

    Carter tried to talk soft in the beginning, when he needed to talk tough in the face of an act of war. Then after allowing the situation to escalate tried talking tough on unfreezing accounts, etc to save face which the Iranians used to demonize him. Then when that didn’t work he kept accepting small but embarrasing concessions in deals that the Iranian walked away from anyway. After bumbling around for well over a year of the hostages lives he finally capitulated on the conditions he originally said he would’t budge on and unfroze the Iranian assets and sheltered them from American lawsuits. But that’s how diplomacy works when liberals are running it: all carrot no stick. THAT’S a failed policy, yet you insist on repeatedly using it.

  17. Eric Florack says:

    How does pro-demonstration rhetoric from Mr. Obama help the demonstrators?

    How did Regan’s speaking up against the Soviets help the Polish unionists?

    Sometimes, someone publicly standing up for what’s right is all that’s needed to turn the tide.

  18. G.A.Phillips says:

    How does pro-demonstration rhetoric from Mr. Obama help the demonstrators?

    lol, exactly, why would he want to help any one challenging the validity of an election, oh and we all know how he feels about demonstration’s, and hope and change and all that……

    and I don’t know about you I’m getting sick of theses evil *** Muslim true believers chanting death to America by the mindless hoard after the mindless *** hoard, why don’t he say something to them about that?

  19. anjin-san says:

    Sometimes, someone publicly standing up for what’s right is all that’s needed to turn the tide.

    Funny bit, according to you, all that Iranians care about is killing Westerners. Has the fact that so many are risking their lives for freedom gotten your attention?

  20. Eric Florack says:

    Funny bit, according to you, all that Iranians care about is killing Westerners. Has the fact that so many are risking their lives for freedom gotten your attention?

    Now, when did I say that?
    Certainly, there’s a goodly number willing to do so, and they’re currently backed by the power of government there but that’s a rather different matter, no? Ya know, just once you’d think you’d stop trying to back me into a corner. It never works out for you…

  21. The Strategic MC says:

    “He successfully negotiated the release of hostages and managed to do it WITHOUT exchanging them for arms.”

    No arms in this deal, only money. Lots and lots of money. Carter gave the Iranians billions of dollars (of admittedly embargoed funds) for the hostages.

    Somehow, I don’t this that this rises to the level of the principled and skillfully executed diplomacy that I sense you are trying to convey.

    Carter paid for those hostages and gave up considerable “leverage” in the bargain. I wonder how many arms the Iranians bought with the released funds?

  22. The Strategic MC says:

    Hungary 1956.

    Perhaps the most apt historical analogy thus far. I must re-read The Bridge at Andau.

    Maybe Obama doesn’t want to give encouragement to a movement that he knows is doomed to violent suppression and ultimate failure.

    Maybe he just wants to talk with the Grand Ayatollah once the distraction of these protests is taken care of. To meddle in Iranian affairs would greatly displease the Ayatollah.

  23. The Strategic MC says:

    Somehow, I don’t think that this rises to the level…

  24. An Interested Party says:

    Carter paid for those hostages and gave up considerable “leverage” in the bargain. I wonder how many arms the Iranians bought with the released funds?

    Looking back, it is probably hard to defend much of what Carter did regarding Iran….but than, the same could be said about Reagan (oh wait, he supposedly didn’t know what was going on, nevermind)…the point remains that Reagan’s situation with the Soviets is very different than Obama’s situation with Iran…it is quite simplistic to equate the two…

  25. An Interested Party says:

    Maybe he just wants to talk with the Grand Ayatollah once the distraction of these protests is taken care of.

    So rapprochement with Iran is a bad thing, even if it is under those circumstances? We should just continue what we’ve been doing, which is the primary reason we have no leverage in the first place…

    To meddle in Iranian affairs would greatly displease the Ayatollah.

    Just as meddling in Saudi Arabia’s affairs would greatly displease King Abdullah or meddling in Egypt’s affairs would greatly displease Hosni Mubarak and yet, I haven’t seen any of the past few American presidents doing that…or is the current situation just an excuse to bash our current president…

  26. The Strategic MC says:

    “So rapprochement with Iran is a bad thing…”

    No. Not at all. To effectively reduce your list of opponents is almost always a good thing.

    Just don’t commit the prestige of the Office of POTUS to either a diplomatic fishing expedition or to merely enhance Obama’s bona fides as the Un-Bush.

  27. The Strategic MC says:

    …it is quite simplistic to equate the two…

    The exact point that I was attempting to make with the object of my post. In this case, “the two” were how Carter and Reagan dealt with the Iranians and hostages.

    Deep compromises of both principle and leverage were involved in both cases, yet Carter didn’t pull a Reagan and exchange arms for hostages! As if.

    As if there was any discernible honor or distinction in his chosen course of action.

  28. An Interested Party says:

    Just don’t commit the prestige of the Office of POTUS to either a diplomatic fishing expedition or to merely enhance Obama’s bona fides as the Un-Bush.

    The prestige of the Office of POTUS also shouldn’t be committed to shabby cheerleading (of the kind that many Republicans would like the president to do) just to make some people in our country feel better about themselves rather than actually helping the Iranian people…

    The exact point that I was attempting to make with the object of my post.

    Yes I realize that…that particular statement I typed wasn’t directed towards you…

    As if there was any discernible honor or distinction in his chosen course of action.

    I certainly wouldn’t make that argument…but than, once again, the same thing you typed could be said of the Reagan Administration’s later actions with Iran…the point being that both Carter and Reagan had missteps with Iran, but all we keep hearing about from certain people is how horrible Carter was and how President Obama is some kind of replica of him…it’s almost as if some people want to use this situation as yet another excuse to bash the president…

  29. Iran’s escalating protests, which many fear will be met with a crackdown given recent hardline rhetoric from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, have upped pressure on President Obama to respond more forcefully. However, Iranian cleric and civil-rights activist Mohsen Kadivar, who has taught at Duke University for the last 10 months after being jailed for his views by the theocratic regime, wants the U.S. to stay out of it.

    In an interview with The Daily Beast after a rally and prayer session by the United Nations in solidarity with Iran’s protesters, Kadivar said that the opposition movement was entirely self-sufficient and in need of no support from foreign leaders. “What Obama has done so far is about perfect,” Kadivar, garbed in his traditional cleric’s robes, said. “We don’t need any special support from you. The green movement for democracy and liberty in Iran is independent and we don’t need anything from the foreigners. We should get democracy ourselves.”

    So that would be this guy on Obama’s side, and Charles Krauthammer, neocon twit and professional foreign policy idiot on the other side.

  30. anjin-san says:

    Bit how long have you been calling for us to attack Iran? That would involve killing the very people who are out in the street now risking their lives for freedom.

    There is a vast difference between putting your ass on the line for freedom and talking about it on a blog. Watch and learn dude, watch and learn.

  31. The League of Armchair Heroes wants another war.

    The Iranian people seem to want to decide who runs their government.

    The League of Armchair Heroes desperately wants us to ramp up the rhetoric in Iran.

    The Iranian people have asked for no such rhetorical support.

    People who know something about Iran and about diplomacy warn against ramping up the rhetoric.

    I keep posing the same question: How would more rhetoric from President Obama benefit the protesters?

    And I haven’t gotten an answer yet. Why? Because the League of Armchair Heroes doesn’t want the protesters to win, they want another war.

    Today in Iran the tanks may be in the streets. And the members of the League will be happy.

  32. Matt says:

    I’m no expert on Iran but my GF’s dad is an immigrant from Iran and his family is very happy with what Obama is doing. Naturally communication with most of them is difficult due to being located in iran

  33. davod says:

    “The Iranian people have asked for no such rhetorical support.”

    “FP: There has been growing criticism here in Washington that U.S. President Barack Obama hasn’t said or done enough to support those demonstrating in the streets of Iran. Do you think Obama is being too careful? Or even that he is helping Ahmadinejad by being cautious?

    MM [Mohsen Makhmalbaf]: Obama has said that there is no difference between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi. Does he like it himself [when someone is] saying that there is no difference between Obama and [George W.] Bush? Ahmadinejad is the Bush of Iran. And Mousavi is the Obama of Iran.

    FP: Would Mousavi be willing to accept some sort of power-sharing arrangement? Say, Ahmadinejad remains as president but Mousavi becomes prime minister once again?
    MM: This is not a solution, because people do not want Ahmadinejad at any level. He is so illiterate that — the millions of people in the street — he called them trash. And now, people are telling him: You are trash.
    FP: Does Mousavi have a message that he’d like to deliver to the international community?
    MM: [He asks] that the governments [of the world] pay attention to the people in the streets and do not recognize the government of Ahmadinejad as the representative of Iran — [that they] do not recognize the government of Ahmadinejad as a legitimate government. Iran is a very important country in the region, and the changes in Iran could have an influence everywhere. So as a result, it’s not only an internal matter — it’s an international problem. If Iran could be a democratic Islamic country, that would be a pattern, a role model, for other Islamic countries. And even if Iran has a terrorist image [today], it would be a model for other countries [in the future].”

    From the Washington Post’s Foreign Policy blog.

  34. G.A.Phillips says:

    So that would be this guy on Obama’s side, and Charles Krauthammer, neocon twit and professional foreign policy idiot on the other side.

    So what does neocon mean to you?

  35. G.A.Phillips says:

    Michael Reynolds, lol, I just read your blog,lol, I understand your right to call someone a twit and an idiot now, you are quit the expert……

  36. G.A.Phillips says:

    Oh and if you would stop braying for a moment you would have noticed that I have answered your stupid twit of a strawdonkey……

    lol, exactly, why would he want to help any one challenging the validity of an election

    part one: see acorn.

    Part two: LOOK HERE->oh and we all know how he feels about demonstration’s:see acorn.and or on another side don’t see the TEA PARTIES!

    Part three:AND AGAIN->and hope and change and all that……see unadulterated BULL****!

    and you must have missed the part were this rightwing extremest DHS terror watchlist suspect advocated his TALKING TO IRAN WITHOUT PRECONDITIONS!!!!!!!

    and I don’t know about you I’m getting sick of theses evil *** Muslim true believers chanting death to America by the mindless hoard after the mindless *** hoard, why don’t he say something to them about that?

  37. G.A.Phillips says:

    Who was it that said “never let a crisis go to wast” ?

  38. Phil Smith says:

    “We stand behind those who are seeking justice in a peaceful way”

    Barack Obama, yesterday.

    I guess he’s a neocon now, huh, Michael and Alex?

  39. I think it was an imprudent statement. “We stand behind” is exactly the kind of thing we should not be saying.

    It’s a mistake.

    We should not ratchet up rhetoric until it is clear that final battle has been joined and the Khamenei regime has committed to crushing it by all means necessary.

  40. Phil Smith says:

    They’re fighting and dying in the streets right this instant, Michael. Go read @tehranbureau. Here’s a good one: “forces dressed as civilians are beating on people and using tear gas to keep them from entering the square, they are being dispersed into” The basiji are assaulting, beating, killing even women and girls in the streets. They’re chanting “down with Khamenei” now. Not enough for you?

    At first, I thought you were just an Obama sycophant who was unwilling to repudiate any position he takes. I see now that you’re not even due that level of respect.

  41. Phil:

    You’re an overly emotional loudmouth, a solipsist with no understanding of the situation. A loud cheerleader yelling in the middle of a chess game.

  42. Phil Smith says:

    Struck close to home, eh Michael? Got under your skin?

    Based on what is happening right this instant, just exactly how much worse does it have to get before you come to the belated conclusion that “final battle has been joined and the Khamenei regime has committed to crushing it by all means necessary.” Tear gas, aerial gunfire, water cannons, police and military deployed to the streets – just how much blood do you need to see?

  43. Eric Florack says:

    Bit how long have you been calling for us to attack Iran?

    Yep.
    Major difference between that and what you said, however.So much for the Liberal devotion to “subtlety”.

    Anjin’s nonsense thus dealt with, let’s turn to the rest of the discussion.

    I dare to suggest that the reason that Iran as people are finely finding the courage to react against their government is the lower degree of isolation that Iran’s Islamist regime has enjoyed.

    Let’s pull back some, and look at what’s been happening, over there. The momentum towards increased freedom started in Iraq and Afghanistan and it has now spread to Iran. By my read the best the rainy and regime can hope for is to delay it for a bit, regardless of how this particular situation works out in the short term. The genie, as it were, is out of the bottle. Word about what is possible under a greater degree of individual freedom is hardly information that will be passed between the Iran Iraq and Afghanistan that existed as little as a decade ago. But, with increased freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan, word about such matters is now reaching people in Iran, spurring a desire on their part, too.

    Syria has seen their band of thugs otherwise known as Hamas removed from power in Lebanon. They are now surrounded by relatively free states and their terrorist support is much more exposed than it once was.

    I’m going to suggest to you that it was that act of ousting Saddam which started all of this. So, if the revolution, and there’s no other word for it, in here and succeeds, the foreign policy legacy of George Bush will be having set up democratized states in what had been a set of radical Islam driven theocracies.

    Gee, I can’t imagine why the left would have such a great deal of problem with that, and why they’re so very intent on withholding even a word of moral support for the current efforts in Iran, can you? Can it be that we are going to see an entire generation of freedom fighters in Iran washed away because Obama and his minions still can’t get over their Bush Derangement Syndrome?

  44. G.A.Phillips says:

    We should not ratchet up rhetoric until it is clear that final battle has been joined and the Khamenei regime has committed to crushing it by all means necessary

    lol,What?

    What should we say? we don’t stand behind peaceful protests until you start killing them or just nothing?

    so help me out, I’m no diplomat, should we blame what their doing to their protesters on the war in Iraq, our stealing of their oil, how our CIA is torturing every innocent Muslim walking down the street for information??????How our troops are raping and pillaging and bombing everyone thats brave enough to come outside in his olive skin???? Bush did it???

    maybe we could spend a couple trillion dollars on fixing their roads…..

    and are you sure we should wait till after they start killing everyone in that country with a backbone and some small sense of democracy before we dare to get involved….

    Why not a supernatural Obama hope and change sermon, it brought prosperity and unity here…..

    It will damn sure work over there…..

    Don’t you watch the news?

  45. You’re boring Phil. If Obama had come out strong for the demonstrators you’d have said he was naive. When he didn’t come out strong you said he was weak.

    If you think batons, water cannon and tear gas are as bad as it can get you’re even dumber than I thought.

    And you have yet to answer my very simple question: How, Phil, would more rhetoric from Obama help the demonstrators?

    Let me know when you come up with something. Last attempt you made was ludicrous.

  46. Phil Smith says:

    If Obama had come out strong for the demonstrators you’d have said he was naive. When he didn’t come out strong you said he was weak.

    Nope. You are projecting, junior.

  47. G.A.Phillips says:

    Phil:

    You’re an overly emotional loudmouth, a solipsist with no understanding of the situation. A loud cheerleader yelling in the middle of a chess game.

    watch out Phil, I read his blog this morning, he’s a, lol, I cant stop laughing…………..Sorry………..

  48. Eric:

    I supported the Iraq war precisely on the hope that it would have a transformative effect.

    I criticized the conduct of the war because I didn’t think losing was going to be helpful to spreading democracy.

    I pushed for more men and more determination in Iraq, and warned that we were losing, years before the Bush administration finally admitted what was clear.

    I hope Iraq has helped in this regard more than it has hurt. I doubt it. Our mismanagement made the path to democracy look like a Bataan death march. We could have, and should have, imposed more early on. The model should have been Japan 1945.

    I suspect the greater influence has been the ubiquity of modern communications. Iranians see how much better off the rest of the world is. And more to the point, their economy is a mess which tends to motivate people.

  49. brainy435 says:

    “If Obama’s choices are limited to remaining largely silent or saying something reckless, it is the result of thirty years of truly isolationist policy that the President’s critics have supported.”

    Well, Obama destroyed that argument. Since he hasn’t remained silent, obviously the rest of that argument is complete crap. Unless you want to argue that Obama is being reckless.

    The funny thing is that if he had said this right away, I’d be completely behind him. However, the way he had to be basically dragged into supporting freedom makes this nothing more than a political stunt now. Still, at least he did say it.

  50. Phil Smith says:

    Incidentally, it’s confirmed that the goverment forces are firing live rounds and attacking from helicopters. Why, I wonder, did you leave that out of your last little tirade? “Batons, tear gas and water cannons” aren’t as bad as it can get, you mendacious little stooge, and they’ve advanced well beyond that for some time now. Is it just a desire to “win” this argument that leads you to that oh so illustrative ellipsis?

    Keep up with the ad hominem, Michael. It shows your true colors better than any argument I can make.

  51. Phil:

    Why do you refuse to answer a very simple question?

  52. Here, Phil, I’ll repeat it for you. And your little friends can join in.

    How would more rhetoric from Obama help the demonstrators?

  53. brainy435 says:

    “The model should have been Japan 1945.”

    Except, as the left kept saying Bush was too stupid to understand, Iraq is unique. It has no traditional national sentiment to bind the people together. So except for being completely wrong you’re… no, you are actually completely wrong.

  54. Well,”brainy” are you now using liberal talking points from 8 years ago to support your point? In agreement with them? I’m not quite getting your point. The liberals were right all along?

    The Japan 1945 model refers to the imposition of a constitution on the country. We wrote Japan’s constitution. We imposed it. They still use it.

    But of course in Japan we had complete dominance. Something we never had in Iraq because of Rusmfeld’s war theory.

  55. Phil Smith says:

    Your temper’s up, Michael. Can’t wait two minutes for a response? I was reading, you know, the news you claim to follow so obsessively. Frankly, it looks bad. The police and basiji appear to have won the day in the cities.

    Michael, I answered. You didn’t like it, that’s fine, but it’s a complete lie to continue to repeat that I didn’t. It just proves that you are on your heels to repeat that lie. I am not going to bother reposting. I am going to just remind you and everyone here that you’re lying every time you say nobody’s answered you.

  56. Well, Phil, since some may have missed it, here was your attempted answer and my dissection of same. Alex also took you apart quite handily.

    Here was my question:

    How does pro-demonstration rhetoric from Mr. Obama help the demonstrators?

    Here’s your answer:

    I’ve answered that at length on the previous thread on the topic. In brief:

    1. We can’t lose ground with the current regime. Simply observing that shooting protesters is bad costs us nothing with the regime, and since they are a)already shooting protesters and b)blaming us anyway, it’s hard to see how it hurts us or the demonstrators. With that out of the way,

    Not an answer. But silly nonetheless. They may be “blaming us,” but the propaganda is gaining no traction. Why not? Because they can’t quote a single line from Obama that supports it. And let me add: duh.

    2. A simple recognition from the President of the US that your demonstration in the face of bullets is courageous will certainly lift morale. As Napoleon said, “Morale is to the material as three is to one”.

    Napoleon missed WW1, which was when the machine gun put an end to his romantic notions of war. Morale doesn’t matter worth a damn if the other guy has more firepower.

    Second, the demonstrators don’t need any help with their morale. They are fighting for their own rights. They are not fighting for you, Phil, or for Mr. Obama, or for the US of A. It is not about us. Do you know the word “solipsism?” If not, look it up.

    3. If Mousavi (or some third party) comes out on top, our behavior today will be remembered negatively. So it’s in our interest as well.

    Your support for this? Has Moussavi asked us to embrace him? I just read his spokesman’s latest statement. Didn’t even mention us. In fact, Mr. Moussavi is thanking Allah we’ve kept our mouths shut.

    4. Finally, the president’s reticence tells the regime that they have a free hand as far as we’re concerned.

    They do have a free hand. They know it. You may not, but they do. We are not going to invade Iran. Have you read any history? Hungary 1956. Iraq after the first war.

    His silence is a negative to the demonstrators, and a positive to the regime. You may find that “exactly right”, but I don’t.

    Evidence? ANY evidence? I’m obsessively reading tweets and posts from Iran. Do you have any actual evidence that they want us to throw our loving arms around them? Are you simply incapable of imaging a situation where we are not at the center of the matter? It’s NOT ABOUT US.

  57. Do you want to try again Phil? Can you connect the dots for us and tell us all how exactly, in the real world, more rhetoric from Obama would help the people in the streets?

  58. brainy435 says:

    All I said was that critics of Bush’s handling of the war, like you said you were, used to criticise that handling by claiming that he didn’t understand the unique challenges in Iraq. Then you come along and offer you preferred remedy, which is comletely moronic given the exact reason that Japan after WWII is nothing like Iraq 2003.

    Bush understood well that Iraq was a unique challenge and tried to apply unique remedies. The early ones didn’t work, which is why they were scrapped and COIN was applied. Those policies probably could have been applied earlier if the man had had a loyal opposition instead of people misrepresenting his intelligence for political purposes.

  59. Phil Smith says:

    Actually, at this point I think it’s too late. And no, I’m not going to bother. If you are so confident that you won that round, I will let you rest on your laurels. But if you really were all that certain of your position, you’d just calmly point to it and go on. For some odd reason, you can’t quite do that. It’s illustrative, but I’ll leave it to the reader to decide what. I’m happy to stand behind what I already said without engaging in boring repetition, except to remind you that, apparently, Obama has come to the conclusion that more rhetoric is a good idea, since he has in fact said more.

    Shakhmati.

  60. G.A.Phillips says:

    Gaea damn it, you got me Michael Reynolds, you found my weakness , I ******* hate being ignored ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRrrrrrrrrrrrr……..

    oh I see you dint,

    And your little friends can join in

    haha, and ive seen your pic, lol, and read your blog, lol, little dude, little mind, but hey you do have a big cigar.

  61. Those policies probably could have been applied earlier if the man had had a loyal opposition instead of people misrepresenting his intelligence for political purposes

    .

    The mad had a less and less loyal opposition because the man insisted on being an idiot for years. We were plenty loyal. It was Mr. Bush who betrayed the country by refusing to admit there was a problem.

    I was in the John McCain school of criticism, although I got it a good year before McCain started talking. So if you want to trash McCain as disloyal, go for it.

    Mr. Bush and Mr. Rumsfeld were world-class incompetents. It had nothing to do with Iraq being a special case and it’s laughable to pretend now that Mr. Bush understood Iraq. That’s not an argument, that’s a punchline.

    The problem was that Mr. Bush didn’t want to ask for sacrifice, he didn’t want to have to pay for the war, didn’t want to admit that Rumsfeld was an idiot and replace him. Mr. Bush wanted war on the cheap and Rummy promised to give it to him.

    Mr. Bush’s father, George H.W. Bush was by far the smarter man. Pity little Bush didn’t have the sense to talk to big Bush.

  62. G.A.:

    Well, you’ve found my weakness: I love being complimented.

    “Little dude?” Thanks! I’m 6’2″ and 250, so I’ll take any diminutive you care to toss out there, er, anonymous guy who finds himself inexplicably amusing.

    Would you mind calling me “hairy” next?

  63. G.A.:

    You know, since you seem fascinated by me, here’s a video I did for my Brit publisher that shows me to be not only a little dude, but svelte, young and possessed of a lovely head of hair.

    Egmont Promo

  64. From Sully just now. The italicized portion is Sully’s comment on the story:

    12.53 pm. The state media are putting words into Obama’s mouth:
    This morning a friend of NIAC who gets Iranian Satellite TV here said that state-run media showed President Obama speaking about Iran this morning. However, instead of translating what he actually said, the translator reportedly quoted Obama as saying he “supports the protesters against the government and they should keep protesting.” Assuming this report is correct, it shows the Iranian government is eager to portray Obama as a partisan supporting the demonstrators.

    So the Khamenei regime wants the same posture from the Obama as Krauthammer and Wolfowitz. They just don’t know what they’re talking about, do they?

  65. Phil Smith says:

    You actually have a point, Micheal. However, given that many of them speak English, I doubt that ploy will work all that well.

    On the other side of that coin, this simply illustrates one of my earlier points – the regime is going to blame the Great Satan regardless. It cannot hurt for Obama to condemn the violence, which is all I’ve been asking for.

  66. Phil:

    By the way, if you think I’m unemotional about this, I’ve left a misimpression.

    I haven’t been able to tear myself away from watching the stream of tweets and Sully and HuffPo. I suspect you and I both wish we could be on the streets in Tehran right now, and that we’d both have some small measure of the courage those kids are showing.

    I’ll tell you one thing: I have come away with an enormous respect for the Iranian people. I hope we don’t ever have to fight these people. They’re brave, they’re strong, and they would make admirable friends and allies.

  67. Phil Smith says:

    suspect you and I both wish we could be on the streets in Tehran right now, and that we’d both have some small measure of the courage those kids are showing.

    Well phrased. You see the one where they stormed the local basiji HQ? Stones.

    I’ll tell you one thing: I have come away with an enormous respect for the Iranian people. I hope we don’t ever have to fight these people. They’re brave, they’re strong, and they would make admirable friends and allies.

    That’s pretty much the point I was making in bullet 3, Michael. If they win, I’d sure like for them to think kindly of us. I believe that a simple official recognition of their courage would go a long way. Our silence is misconstrued, our vague statements are mistranslated – why not just stand up for the right and good?

    If those beliefs make me a neocon, well, by God I’m a neocon and proud of it. If it makes me a liberal (in the tradition of Mill), then that’s what I am.

  68. Phil Smith says:

    By the way, which feeds are you following? @tehranbureau @iranriggedelect have been gutwrenching. @laraabcnews and @stopahmadi very good also.

  69. Eric Florack says:

    I supported the Iraq war precisely on the hope that it would have a transformative effect.

    If we can take the events in Iran and in Pakistan and in Lebanon as indicative, I’d suggest it’s arguable that it has been so.

    I suspect the greater influence has been the ubiquity of modern communications. Iranians see how much better off the rest of the world is. And more to the point, their economy is a mess which tends to motivate people.

    I wonder a bit on that point. I suppose regional matter are the stronger influence. GRanted that comms help things there along, but I think the events I cited in the region are the more powerful in injecting change in the rest of the region, given the similar cultural influences. Saying Canada’s a free country doesn’t hit home nearly as hard to an Iranian, I suspect, than does saying Iraq is.

    How, Phil, would more rhetoric from Obama help the demonstrators?

    It would add pressure on the remainder of the world to follow suit and it would also add pressure against the current regime. That you don’t see both those things in a big positive light tells me you have no taste for freedom, and/or you have no clue about soft power.

  70. Phil Smith says:

    My last comment was caught in the spam filter. Not sure what I did. It was a long blockquote from Obama.

  71. Phil:

    Thanks, did not know about a couple of those. Great now I’ll never get any work done.

  72. anjin-san says:

    you have no clue about soft power

    Do you have a clue? How much time went by between Obama’s Cairo speech (you know, the one the right dismissed) and the start of the protests in Iran?

    But no, wait. The people in Iran are rising up because Mr. Bush invaded Iraq, what, 7 years ago…

  73. Eric Florack says:

    Do you have a clue? How much time went by between Obama’s Cairo speech (you know, the one the right dismissed) and the start of the protests in Iran?

    OK, this oughta be good for a laugh..

    What specifically in his Cairo speech do you think responsible for having started the events in Iran?

  74. anjin-san says:

    What specifically in his Cairo speech do you think responsible for having started the events in Iran?

    What specifically about the Iraq war do you think started things? After all, the people of Iran have taken to the streets and overthrown a bad government before, so trying to somehow credit Bush is pretty laughable.

    Obama was doing direct outreach to the people in Iran even before he won the election. Am I going to waste time trying to convince you? Nope. Your ideology will not let you give Obama credit for anything. Run along bit. Go check out Red State, Captain Ed, and Malkin, so they can tell you what you think. Oh, and don’t forget “The American Thinker”. Then you can pronounce yourself the winner of yet another blog joust. Its about as predictable as a sunrise, just not nearly as pretty 🙂

  75. Eric Florack says:

    What specifically about the Iraq war do you think started things? After all, the people of Iran have taken to the streets and overthrown a bad government before, so trying to somehow credit Bush is pretty laughable.

    I’ve already addressed this, and so has Krauthammer.

    Meanwhile, we’re supposed to understand that the opposition movements that have been building since the Iraq invasion and before..in Iran and obviously rigged election, were not the triggers. No, it was Obama’s speech in Cairo, which most of them didn’t hear.

    Riiiiggght.

    Lemme guess… you sell used cars, right?

  76. steve says:

    I think those who want to credit toppling Saddam with current events need to take a look at history. This is a country that toppled the Shah in 1979. The Shah controlled the military and was certainly ruthless. He was deposed by these people. Since then, there has been constant tension between the religious and the secular. If you had been reading people who have visited Iran, they make it clear that many of the youth, especially in the cities chafe at the religious police rule. Satrapi’s book, Persepolis, was even made into a movie covering this (Cannes award winner IIRC). Khatami’s election, again, demonstrates that tension.

    First, Saddam’s toppling. That was done by the US, not the Iraqi’s. It resulted in at least 100,000 Iraqi deaths and 1,000,000 refugees. It is still not a settled dispute, especially with the Kurds. Why would the Iranians want to follow this example? Shouldnt you see this being cited by the Iranians themselves?

    Afghanistan. Again, the US toppled the Taliban. The elections meant little to most Afghanis. They now have an incredibly, even by the standards of the area, inept and corrupt government. One of the main reasons the Taliban has been able to reassert itself, has been the awful government there. The take home message here? The US can get rid of your government, but the new one will be just as bad, only in a different way.

    Just because we invaded two countries in that area, does not mean everything that happens there is a necessary result. To make that claim you need to provide some linkage. One may as well claim that the Mumbai killings were our fault.

    BTW, which foreign countries do you think have any credible power to sway Iran’s current administration?

    Steve

  77. anjin-san says:

    Krauthammer

    Yea, caught it on Fox today. Good for a few yuks, if nothing else.

    most of them didn’t hear

    Right. Because they don’t have the internets…

    I’ve already addressed this

    The thing is, you have to address it in a credible manner…

  78. G.A.Phillips says:

    lol, nice..

    anonymous guy who finds himself inexplicably amusing.

    wrong and right,,,,,
    1345 Deane blvd Racine WI, And I have a very good time being inexplicable….

    And ya you don’t look chubby at all in the video and sorry about the small mind thing, I couldn’t tell if you had one under that Flowing black raven feathered glimmering mantle of radiance, Hot damn Conan!!!

  79. brainy435 says:

    “The mad (sic) had a less and less loyal opposition because the man insisted on being an idiot for years”

    So, in your rebuttal you constantly refer to the Administration as idiots. Thank you for making my point. Not a lot of thinking going on for you right now, huh? And point to me where McCain was one of the crazies insiting Bush “lied” about MWDs, or planned 9/11, or was only going to Iraq to avenge his daddy, etc. None of that is in an way loyal opposition.