During the June 2009 protests that rocked Iran over election fraud, the Obama administration was silent for days, then came out and embraced improved relations with the regime in the hope of improving the chances for a negotiated end to Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
The “grand bargain” approach advocated by the foreign policy establishment sought to give the Iranian regime security guarantees and regional hegemony in exchange for Iran giving up its nuclear weapons program. While the Obama administration was willing to engage in negotiations without precondition, in fact perpetual mullah rule was a precondition.
The negotiations went nowhere. The Iranians have used the past 6 months to accelerate their nuclear program, stir up trouble in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, make alliances with Hugo Chavez, and continue to arm Hamas and Hezbollah as forward bases in anticipation of a confrontation over the nuclear program.
One again, protests are spreading in Iran, and news is getting out through the blogosphere and internet.
Will Obama break his silence on vacation to take the side of the Iranian people?
If the excuse last time was that we should do nothing to disrupt nuclear negotiations, what is the excuse this time, now that negotiations have failed?
Update: Fausta Wertz, who notes how quickly Obama spoke out when Honduras ousted Zelaya, wants to bet me it will take three days for a comment. Should I take the bet?
Meanwhile, newby blogger Brain Itch wonders what Dubya would have done.
Update 3:00 p.m. — About 20 minutes ago the White House issued a statement as reported by AFP:
The White House on Sunday strongly condemned “violent and unjust suppression” of civilians in Iran, following a fierce government crackdown on opposition protests.
The strongly-worded statement contrasted with careful initial responses by the White House following post-election protests in Iran in June and came as the nuclear showdown between Tehran and world powers reached a critical point.
“We strongly condemn the violent and unjust suppression of civilians in Iran seeking to exercise their universal rights,” White House spokesman Mike Hammer said in a statement.
“Hope and history are on the side of those who peacefully seek their universal rights, and so is the United States.
The full statement is not yet on the White House website. I’ll link when it is. Based on this report, it looks like we will not make the same mistake as in June. (I should have taken Fausta up on the bet; this is why I don’t gamble.)
What remains to be seen is whether the regime change advocated by the popular uprising in Iran will be embraced by the U.S., or will we revert back to the “grand bargain” approach.
Will Obama interrupt his vacation to make a personal statement in support of the Iranian people, or will he rely on a press statement?