Leonard Bernstein, when asked which of Mozart piano concertos was his favorite, answered that it was whichever one he was listening to at the time. It's impossible to set one masterpiece above all the others. In a reverse sort of way I feel the same about President Obama's policy positions. The worst one is the one you're presently focusing on. They're just all so bad.
Consider his Iran policy.
Following the tainted "re-election" of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as Iranian president in June, protesters of the result chanted o ba ma, a Farsi play on words meaning "He with us." Now counter-demonstrators to the Iranian regime's staged celebration of the 30th anniversary of the hostage taking of American Embassy personnel chant, obama ya ba oona ya ba ma - Obama, either you're with them or with us. And Obama's choice is clear. Initiating a "dialogue" with the theocratic fascists who rule Iran takes precedent over supporting the Iranian "street" which the WSJ calls "arguably the most pro-American place in the world". Obama's apology for the U.S. role in the 1953 overthrow of Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadeq was an unnecessary act of groveling to the mullahs. The Iranian people have already forgiven us. And Obama got nothing in return for his obsequiousness. Certainly not an apology from the mullahs for killing American servicemen in Iraq. Only scorn. Here's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khatami responding to Obama's overtures.
“What we have witnessed is completely the opposite of what they have been saying and claiming. On the face of things, they say, ‘Let’s negotiate.’ But alongside this, they threaten us and say that if these negotiations do not achieve a desirable result, they will do this and that. … Whenever they smile at the officials of the Islamic revolution, when we carefully look at the situation, we notice that they are hiding a dagger behind their back,” he said. “They have not changed their intentions.”
Meanwhile, the Iranian people admire us and seek to emulate our government. They yearn for freedom and democracy - America's values, its brands. It is perverse that the administration is reaching out to their opponents.
The Associated Press yesterday reported the following.
The White House is calling for an end to violence in Iran as security forces there crack down on anti-government protesters.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Wednesday that Obama administration leaders are following reports of the unrest and "hope greatly that violence will not spread."
To which, Iran expert, NRO's Michael Ledeen retorted,
Personally, I hope the demonstrations spread like wildfire until the regime burns and crashes.
Ledeen believes that U.S. support of the opposition could have collapsed the regime long ago. And such support would be the polar opposite of the action we took in '53, when we helped to engineer a military coup to overthrow a popularly elected government. Far from coming back to haunt us, a strategy of undermining an unpopular, tyrannical government, if successful, would leave a grateful populace. It would provide us with another allied Islamic nation in the Mideast. (Though Obama's neglect of Iraq may end up eventually distancing that country from us, negating much of what we fought so hard to attain).
There are no downsides to supporting the democrats. We'll be accused of meddling? The thugs do that anyway. Let's give them something to cry about. "Negotiations" to end Iran's nuclear threat will be derailed? Exactly.
And there are many potential upsides - The end of Iran's nuclear threat and with it the elimination of the greatest threat to Israel's existence; The removal of Hamas' and Hezbollah's main sponsor and with that the diminishment of the biggest impediment to peace between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs; Silent gratitude from neighboring Arab countries, fearful of Iran's nuclear ambitions; Greater energy security.
In the October 19 issue of National Review, former U.N. ambassador John Bolton detailed the four options for dealing with the Iranian regime's quest for nuclear weapons. Let them have them - the worst option; Negotiate with them - essentially the same as option one; Support regime change, and; A military attack - another bad option. Bolton agrees that the best option is regime change but doesn't believe it can be accomplished in the necessary time frame. The ongoing massive street protests show that he may be too pessimistic.
So what would Bush do? In his second inaugural address, he proclaimed, "...it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world."
And in an earlier speech he said, "For decades, free nations tolerated oppression in the Middle East for the sake of stability. In practice, this approach brought little stability and much oppression, so I have changed this policy."
But Bush hedged this stance in his second term, opting for much the same approach toward Iran (and North Korea) that Obama is committed to now. Indeed, Bolton excoriates both Bush (his former boss) and Obama for getting us where we are today. But unlike Obama, Bush, as evidenced by the above statements, understood the primacy of the role that freedom and democracy play in advancing stability and peace. He would not disregard the courageous efforts of the opponents of Iran's theocratic regime. I strongly suspect he would encourage them, with words certainly and possibly with deeds.
But Obama says, "We do not interfere in Iran's internal affairs". No we don't - to our everlasting disgrace.