17 July 2009

On The Wrong Side Of History?

Does the United States still support the universal yearning for freedom and liberty? If so, we are missing a historic opportunity to do so. Why?

"Tens of thousands of government opponents packed Iran's main Islamic prayer sermon Friday, chanting "freedom, freedom" and other slogans as their top clerical backer Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani delivered a sermon bluntly criticizing the country's leadership over the crackdown on election protests. Outside, police and pro-government Basiji militiamen fired tear gas and charges thousands of protesters who chanted "death to the dictator" and called on President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to resign. Dozens were arrested, piled in trucks and taken away, witnesses said."

When in the course of human events . . .

It would appear that the current political class in power prefers ever-increasing statist control over freedom and liberty.

Story here.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

Richard, please tell us how we are supposed to support it in this case. Thanks.

James F. Epperson said...

I'm not sure what you think we should do. Given the checkered history of our involvement in Iran, it probably is best for us to keep our distance. Any rhetoric on our part will simply get the protesters labeled as tools of The Great Satan, and it is my understanding that the man who really won the election (Mussavi?) does not want to come in to power courtesy of the U.S. Remember that the moderates over there still blame us for the Shah.

acwresearcher said...

No, our president just goes around apologizing for the defenses of liberty we have made throughout our history. While I do not agree with all of our foreign policy throughout our history, when someone basically asks us to assist and we turn a deaf ear, well, I'm not sure it puts us on a very moral footing for any foreign involvement ever, regardless of what we are defending.

Greg

Vince said...

My historical consciousness of the last 100 years of American/British interactions with Iran demands a little more humility for thinking about how we should approach/influence Iran now.

Also, are you unaware of the fact that the idea of a "universal yearning for freedom and liberty" is now inextricably linked to the Bush administration's failed plans for post-invasion Iraq? Numerous authors of note (Anthony Shadid, Don Eberly, etc.) have cataloged how this paradigm left us woefully unprepared to think strategically about Arab culture, which gives priority to justice over liberty, in post-invasion Iraq.

In other words, leaders' predicating American actions toward the Middle East based on the principles of our Declaration of Independence instead of good historical analysis has caused lots more people to die than necessary (even if you assume that invading Iraq was a good thing).

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Obama has all the answers. Ask him. We could start by at least giving the Iranian people the same moral support this administration is lending to terrorist groups like Hamas and thugs like Chavez and Castro.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

James - admittedly, it is a complicated situation, but this administration's relative silence speaks volumes.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Greg - good point. I'm not advocating direct intervention, but there are lots of things the administration could do to offer moral support, similar to what Reagan did for the Polish people in their quest to throw off tyranny.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Vince - Bush is no longer President. Time to move on. Obama convinced a majority of Americans he was the answer to the problems facing America, including the problems in the Mideast. Talk is cheap. The "Saviour" persona is wearing thin. Time to put up or shut up.

I realize that culture and thousands of years of history cannot be transformed overnight, but Obama's inaction is very telling.

James F. Epperson said...

OK, Richard, what do *you* think we should do (that we aren't doing)?

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

James - I think I already answered that, but watch the Youtube video I just posted for a comparison to Reagan. His example would be a good place to start.

James F. Epperson said...

Well, IMO you didn't answer my query, just made an empty quip. I don't see much support on this administration's part for Hamas, Chavez (unless you think accepting that book was so important) or Castro. Nor do I see any relevance in Reagan's speech on Poland. That situation in 1981 was much different from Iran in 2009, if only because we had a relationship with both Poland and the USSR. We don't have any relationship with Iran right now. The ruling clique there (the mullahs) still blames us for the Shah.

Anonymous said...

How does Reagan's example help us understand what we should do that we aren't? I'm unclear how exactly the situation in Poland was at all like the current situation in Iran. Having watched the video in question, I still can't tell how it answers Mr. Epperson's question. How is Obama's inaction telling? What action would you like to see? What might this action accomplish? I'm not in agreement or disagreement here; I'm just unclear as to what your point is here. I get that you disagree with what Obama is doing, but you haven't offered anything except vague insinuations about what you think should be done, or why that would be a prudent idea. You at least seem to value reason and logic so perhaps you might employ a bit of it here (and I mean in terms of telling us your position, along with supporting evidence). From what you have said, you advocate that the United States should express some kind of moral support. How does expressing moral support help the United States secure national security?

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Anon:

An address similar to Reagan's would send a strong, unequivocal message of support to the people of Iran to throw off the tyranny of the mullahs. Isn't it interesting that Obama had no problem offering his moral support for exiled Honduras ex-President/would-be dictator Zelaya?

James F. Epperson said...

Frankly, I think if any American President gave a speech like that on the subject of the present problem in Iran, it would be mega-counterproductive. The mullahs would just scream about the Great Satan meddling in Iran again. And the opposition group (unlike in Poland, in the 1980s) isn't any more enamored of us.

Look, no one over there likes us. With that as the situation, the best thing we can do is shut up and pray. I wish we could do more; I would bet you a lot of money that President Obama wishes he could do more. But the hard and harsh reality is that he can't.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

So why didn't he keep quiet on Honduras?

James F. Epperson said...

"So why didn't he [Obama] keep quiet on Honduras?" --- Because Honduras isn't Iran! We have a relationship there, we have influence there. Also, the situation there is a little more clear-cut: A sitting president was removed in what amounts to a coup. As opposed to Iran, where the outcome of an election is disputed.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

"Because Honduras isn't Iran." Interesting logic.

Actually, the sitting president wanted to extend his time in office beyond what the constitution allowed and was booted out - and rightfully so. Of course, he was an ally of Chavez.

Is it just coincidental that this administration seems to constantly side with dictators and leftist thugs?

James F. Epperson said...

"Actually, the sitting president wanted to extend his time in office beyond what the constitution allowed and was booted out - and rightfully so." --- Not quite. He wanted a referendum to establish a group to study if Honduras should allow a president a second term, to be re-elected. I'm sure he wanted to take advantage of this if it came to pass. The Honduran Congress didn't want to do this, he persisted, and they removed him.

Now, it may just be me, but I see the United States having a lot more potential influence and sway in Honduras, a small country not far away, than in Iran, a much larger country (which doesn't like us) halfway around the world. Of course, your mileage may vary.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

I see the current administration cozying up to leftist thugs and distancing itself from those who embrace liberty and freedom.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

James:

Once again, the facts just don't support your positions:

"When Hugo Chávez makes a personal appeal to Washington for help, as he did 11 days ago, it raises serious questions about the signals that President Barack Obama is sending to the hemisphere's most dangerous dictator. . . yet another sign that the Obama administration is on the wrong side of history."

And . . .

"In the three weeks since the Honduran Congress moved to defend the country's constitution by relieving Mr. Zelaya of his presidential duties, it has become clear that his arrest was both lawful and a necessary precaution against violence."

Complete piece here:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124804541071763577.html#mod=djemEditorialPage

The WSJ couldn't have ran this at a more perfect time for our little debate here. ;o)

Admit it James - Obama is on the wrong side of history on a lot of issues.

Anonymous said...

Out of curiosity, when has any administration avoided siding with thugs and distanced itself from those who embrace liberty and freedom? Ronald Reagan ensured the survival of Saddam Hussein, the great paragon of liberty that he was, in the 1980s. How is what Obama is doing different from what any other president has done?

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Anon:

None. But I thought the American people voted for hope & *change*? It's quite interesting to watch the Obama defenders (who said Obama was going to be "different"), constantly having to go back to previous administrations' errors to justify Obama's actions.

So this administration is just like the rest, right?

Anonymous said...

Depends on what you mean by hope and change. If you mean a return to realism in international affairs, instead of a return to the Neo-Conservatism of the W. years, then yes, Obama is different.

In general, I think we are in agreement. Obama, like pretty much every other President in the last century, ran on the platform of being a Washington outsider, and thus represented some variety of hope and change. And like every other Presidency, special interests and corruption will dictate what occurs in the political arena. That's just the nature of the beast, and I'm not really attaching any moral asperions to this acknowledgment. The rules of the game dictate the outcomes, so anyone who thinks that the outcomes will be different without any changes in the rules is pretty shortsighted. And I will say that Obama, at least, has the integrity to say he wants more services and will raise taxes in order to pay for them. Other Presidents and political parties in recent memory have raised spending drastically and also decreased taxes.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Anon:

I am not an interventionist and did not support Bush's view of the U.S. as global police. However, calling Obama's foreign policy views and philosophy "realism" is beyond my ability to respond. He thinks he can bring about utopia by being nice to thugs - Jimmy Carter on steroids.

"And I will say that Obama, at least, has the integrity to say he wants more services and will raise taxes in order to pay for them."

That's laughable. He's promising better healthcare for everyone cheaper provided by the government. Right. Even a lot of Democrats are seeing through that charade. Better and cheaper like Medicare and Social Security - both which are actuarial unsound and bankrupt? Better and cheaper like the sub-prime bubble created by the Federal government.

Yes, it makes perfect sense, the Federal government screws up just about everything they touch, so let's give them more power and control.

Good Lord.

Brboyd said...

Richard,

Obama cant do anything to help the citizens of Iran. If he did, he would get reminded of it when he sends the military to clear US from the streets.