Flock of Seagulls or Jonathan Livingston?
Sometimes it doesn't pay to be an iconoclast, fine. But somet...
As a rule, I've been keeping quiet in political news. This is for two primary reasons:

1. The last time I was overtly political it was to express my dissatisfaction with the state of the Democratic leadership, and I believe the president deserves time to prove and/or redeem himself before I resume commentary;
2. Generally I tend to piss people off.

So, then, to Iran.

The United States is generally in a difficult position. There are a fair number of people for whom no American intervention in the sovereign affairs of another country is appropriate, and they will generally always be irritated when we decide to stick our nose in the business of others. There are a fair number of people who believe that America is the source of all goodness and light in the world, and that it is incumbent upon us to use that torch to light the way for others and set fire to those who would stand in our way. Fair enough.

The net result of this, of course, is that America never ever responds appropriately. We are always either too hasty or too reluctant, too restrained or too aggressive; too arrogant or too ignorant. Thusly do we note that American efforts to exert an overt influence on the International Community seem to fall into two categories.

Gung-ho adventures in militarism where the United States fails to look before it leaps and so dicks everyone over with the barrel of a main battle tank:
Viet Nam
Central and South America as a whole

Craven instances of hesitation where the United States fails to act until action is no longer capable of undoing what has occurred:
The Balkans
Africa as a whole (including Rwanda, above, as well as Darfur, Somalia, etc)

Sometimes, we encounter blends of these--such as in Cuba, where we pledged our support for an attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro, and then withdrew it. Rarely, however, is the American response to some crisis or general failing in the world hailed as timely, appropriate and respectable. Nor is this a terribly recent thing--it could certainly be argued that the Spanish-American War fell into the first category, above.

For people today, the old Lie that is World War Two serves this role. Of course, World War II came after a lengthy and ardent phase of American isolationism (that did not ever entirely cool, although there were not many people editorialising about why the United States was fighting in Germany, or why it seemed to be the central front in the War on the Axis even though it was Japan who attacked us and we were neglecting the prosecution of that war, et cetera, et cetera), rested on internal racial and class turmoil that is still simmering today and represented in our lack of resolve or action on the Holocaust one of the great moral failures of the century.

I'd suggest it's distance only that makes World War II palatable to today's Americans.

Anyway, I'm cognisant of these concerns, and I understand that the issues are complex. There is not a right answer, objectively--just my own, personal feelings. To wit: say something, goddamnit. I'm not saying we should be bombing Tehran. I'm not saying we should be going to the United Nations demanding sanctions. But Jesus Christ. Bermuda was somehow able to find the moral fortitude to say the Iranian government has "crossed the line". Sarkozy found it within himself to describe the actions of the Ahmadinejad government as the fraud they are. Where is the United States?

The president is right, that we bear witness to the struggles of the Iranian people. Too, though, we bear witness to the role America will--and intends to--take in the global community. An Iranian student describes the cause for our inaction as fear:

... The United States seems able to view our country only through anxieties left over from the 1979 revolution. In the “how did we lose Iran?” assessments after the overthrow of the shah, many American intelligence agents and policy makers decided that their great mistake was to spend too much time canoodling with the royal family and intellectual elites of the capital. Commentators now are worried that, by siding with the opposition today, the United States will once again fall into the trap of backing the losing side.

— New York Times
June 18, 2009

Perhaps. But here is what I fear: that the United States will stand by with only tacit hemming and hawing from the leader of the free world on the developments in Iran; that Ahmadinejad will be able to handily take the election, suppress the dissident majority and gunpoint, and continue on his way; that the United States, having witnessed this, will continue as it has before.

In this case, I fear also that the president will couch this craven failure to do his job as a defender of basic human freedoms as pragmatism--that we have to engage with Iran, criminal though its government be, because pressuring Iran or escalating tensions with them is "cowboy diplomacy". But no matter what the rationalisation one comes up with for dancing with monsters, from a distance all that matters is that you're choosing to share the same ballroom.

Sometimes it is not a question of doing what is pragmatic, but of doing what is right. The president, of all people, should understand what a people motivated by a desire for change can accomplish--will we stand by while Iranian thugs put down the legitimate voices of their countrymen?

Mr. President, you say the world is watching.

Are you?

21.06.2009 - 11h34
22.06.2009 - 9h20
La Chevre
22.06.2009 - 9h22
Comrade Alex
22.06.2009 - 12h33
22.06.2009 - 1h53
Comrade Alex
22.06.2009 - 2h43
22.06.2009 - 3h52
22.06.2009 - 4h53
Comrade Alex
22.06.2009 - 5h17
22.06.2009 - 11h04
Comrade Alex
23.06.2009 - 1h03
23.06.2009 - 1h52
Comrade Alex
23.06.2009 - 2h40
23.06.2009 - 3h19
Comrade Alex
23.06.2009 - 4h13

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