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« Zuma Continues Illiberal Foreign Policy | Main | Weekender Events Focus on Israel »

June 29, 2009

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The Blacklisted Dictator

Steve,

You write: "Liel claims that the recent results of the elections in Lebanon where Hizballah was defeated in parliamentary elections, coupled with the recent protests in Iran, is a result of the impact that Obama is having by helping the moderates."

Melanie Phillips writes: "Obama has repeatedly made it crystal clear to the regime that he will not act against it, will not bring it down but will ‘engage’ with it. By extending the hand of friendship to it, and thus strengthening it against its opponents both within and without, he has somehow motivated the Iranians to protest. Astounding!...

Obama abandoned the protesters by refusing to back them against the regime on the grounds that he was too frightened to be seen to take sides. So just who was he worried might be driven to shout 'Death to America' if he backed the protesters? Would this perhaps have been the hundreds of thousands who were shouting 'Death to the dictators?' His position only altered a little in the last couple of days after such a craven spectacle produced astonishment, anger and scorn, not least among the protesters."

Steve, it is a pity that you didn't question some of Liel's assumptions re Obamad. I would also have been interested to hear whether Liel thinks that Obamad can now "engage" with Ahmad-inejad's regime. Bush at least knew that Ahmad-inejad was a "bad guy". Obamad, on the other hand, ain't so sure.

Steve

Great points Anthony,
I should have pushed him on the issue.

Mike

I have read what Liel has said in other places on similar issues. I think he would support Obama's position. He doesnt like this good or bad dichotomy that the Bush administration had. He believes Israel has to talk to everyone.

Benjamin

Blacklist

You should read Bush’s Man In Iran Lauds Obama’s Handling Of Iran Crisis money quote:

“President Ahmadinejad would like nothing better than to see a very aggressive series of statements by the United States that would try to put the U.S. in the center of this,” Burns said. “And I think President Obama is avoiding that quite rightly.”

“This is not a dispute for the U.S. to be the center of,” Burns said at another point. “It’s up to Iranians to decide who Iran’s future leaders will be. He said he respects Iran’s sovereignty. I think it was important to do that.”

Mike

Benjamin, I know Burns. he is by no means Bush's man. He is very much on the left. he was not a political appointment. Its reallty quite funny.

Benjamin

Mike,
I don't know him. I listened to a panel discussion (that included him as a speaker): Iran’s Clenched Fist Election: What Next for U.S. Policy?. I don't care where he is politically. I, obviously, agree with the points. Firstly, it would be stupid to use rhetoric that would help the Iranian regime. Secondly, this is primarily about Iranians not Americans.

Mike

I strongly disagree. Look at the role Reagan played in bring down the Soviet Union by speaking out on behalf of the people living under its tyranny. I don’t believe that speaking out forcefully in support of freedom for the Iranian people will hurt their cause.

Secondly this is very much about America. An internal democratic revolution in Iran could solve major foreign policy concerns for the US in the region. It would be a massive ideological blow to Islamists the world over. Funding to terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah would fall. And their may even be scope to do a deal on the nuclear issue.

Benjamin

They actually mentioned the example of Reagan and the Soviet union. One of the speakers did make the point that there is a time for, as he put it, megaphone diplomacy. That may not be now. What is so wrong with the tactical idea that the best way to help the Iranians is to practice restraint? Especially given the history of the Iranian/American relationship.

To your second point,
Obviously America has interests and concerns, everyone does, I do. This is not about America in the sense this is an Iranian revolution; home grown.I have actually heard some people say this revolution is the influence of "the Obama moment". I find that just as ridiculous as the idea that the fate of the revolution hangs on Obama's words.

Aside. I also find it naive to think that the American government's main goal in the middle east is democracy. Historical it is security. Obama's chose Cairo to give a speech, a dictatorship and becoming more and more repressive.
Here is a thought experiment: What if Khamenei succeeds in crushing the revolution and (in a ploy for security) offers to give up the nuclear program (with adequate verification) for recognition? What should Obama do then?

The Blacklisted Dictator

Benjamin,

We all have a moral responsibility to speak out 24/7 about what is happening in Iran. Obamad doesn't really know what The F to say or do because he believes that he can "engage" with Ahmad-inejad. Such a belief is not only idiotic. It is also insane.

Unfortunately, Ahmad-inejad is an extremely clever and evil politician and he will inevitably run rings around the hopelessly naive Obamad. And for that reason, we are living in extremely dangerous times.

Mike

Benjamin, I believe he would jump at the opportunity. He is a realist. I personally think that it is only a short term solution. dictators come and go.In the long run democracy is America's best guarantee of security in the middle east.

I have spoken to some people (westerners) who have been to Iran recently. What they say is the level of support among young people for America is very high. Everything American is cool from hamburgers to music. I think the street in Iran may be very different to the Arab world.

Benjamin

Mike I agree with both your points. I watched some of the Daily Show feature on Iran 'Ayatollahed you so'. The vast majority of Iranians are not radicals. They no longer want clerical rule. I am on the side of the revolution (If typepad accepted html font tags this would be green right now).

I am deeply critical of the support of regimes like Eqypt and Saudi Arabia. Short term it might buy you security.I believe long term it is disastrous. I am not arguing against that. Just the very narrow idea that Obama is "hopelessly naive" and/or that he even is that influential.


Benjamin

Mike I agree with both your points. I watched some of the Daily Show feature on Iran 'Ayatollahed you so'. The vast majority of Iranians are not radicals. They no longer want clerical rule. I am on the side of the revolution (If typepad accepted html font tags this would be green right now).

I am deeply critical of the support of regimes like Eqypt and Saudi Arabia. Short term it might buy you security.I believe long term it is disastrous. I am not arguing against that. Just the very narrow idea that Obama is "hopelessly naive" and/or that he even is that influential.


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Shaun

Liel has written a piece in the Jpost where he defends a fellow diplomat lashing out at the Netanyahu government policies. I wonder if he would have been this sympathetic to a right wing diplomat doing the same thing during the tenure of a left wing government?
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1249418581030&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

Mıke

Lıel ıs rıght ın defendıng Nadav Tamır Israel's consul general ın Boston. Dıplomats should be heard - they have a better analysıs of the global sıtuatıon than the polıtıcıans

Shaun

A diplomat should also been keenly aware of the role the media plays within a country. Tamir was completely out of line spewing his own personal views far and wide.
Liel served during the height of the Oslo process when it was all too easy being the Israel diplomat who simply had to tow the left-wing government line whenever he spoke in public. When Rabin/Peres process proved to be a sham, Liel and diplomats like him demonstrated how completely inept left leaning Israeli diplomats were in dealing with the new wave of anti Israel antagonism, the media onslaught and public outcry brought about by the 2000 uprising and the failed Oslo process.

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