Under “political pressures on all sides,” President Obama issued another statement on Iran today:
The Iranian government must understand that the world is watching. We mourn each and every innocent life that is lost. We call on the Iranian government to stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people. The universal rights to assembly and free speech must be respected, and the United States stands with all who seek to exercise those rights.
As I said in Cairo, suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. The Iranian people will ultimately judge the actions of their own government. If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect the dignity of its own people and govern through consent, not coercion.
Martin Luther King once said – “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” I believe that. The international community believes that. And right now, we are bearing witness to the Iranian peoples’ belief in that truth, and we will continue to bear witness.
It’s a step in the right direction, I guess. A speech would be better than a press release, but the bigger problem is that, as the Associated Press puts it, “Obama has searched for the right tone” on the Iranian revolt. At this point, I doubt that anyone much believes that he means what he says. As usual, Obama appears to be acting out of political calculation rather than principle.
PAULadds: So Obama is clearly “meddling” in Iran’s affairs; he’s telling the regime how it must govern — through consent, not coercion. But the regime claims that it has consent by virtue of the election, and that only through coercion can it beat back those who wish to nullify the results of a fair election. Thus, if the regime survives, it will have all the pretext it needs (assuming it needs any) for ignoring Obama’s efforts to persuade it to stop developing nuclear weapons.
What, then, is preventing Obama from supporting not just the protesters’ right to assemble and speak, but also their broader aspirations — the ones that cause them to assemble and about which they are speaking; the ones that can only be fulfilled through regime change?