When Barack Obama warmly greeted Hugo Chavez last April, Obama sent a message of despair to Venezuelans who sought freedom from Chavez’s cult of personality. Any hope the Venezuelan opposition had of a near-term reversal of newspaper closings, political imprisonments, street intimidation, and nationalizations, died with that embrace.
Obama must not send the same message to the people of Iran who are facing the tyranny of the ruling power structure, consisting of the ruling religious council and the Revolutionary Guards. The regime will portray the opposition as a puppet of the U.S. regardless of what we say or do, so we might as well say and do the right thing.
Do not embrace Ahmadinejad and those who empower him. Do not sacrifice the chance of a lifetime for the Iranian people for short term political gain. No Chavez-style hugs to help rescue the Iranian regime.
Voice unequivocal support for the Iranian people. Withhold recognition of the election without international verification. Getting “out of the way” is not enough; widespread international support could be the key to whether the nascent Iranian revolution goes the way of Poland, the Soviet Union, Ukraine and Georgia …. or goes the way of Venezuela.
Be the leader of the Free World, not the Accomodator-in-Chief.
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