21 November 2009

Mr. Obama, Do More Than Just 'Witness' Democratic Rallies In Iran

Believe it or not, sometimes I find good stuff in the unlikeliest of places (like The New Republic).
A few days before the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the wall in Berlin, there occurred the thirtieth anniversary of the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. The dictators' commemoration of that happy day in the history of their dictatorship was ruined by rallies of democrats and dissidents. Obama's response was to intone wanly that "the world continues to bear witness to their powerful calls for justice." So does "witness" count as "work"? Was the Soviet Union brought down by "witness"? We did not, on our own, bring the Soviet Union down—it collapsed, pathetically, on itself; but we assisted keenly in its collapse. Are we assisting in the mullahs' collapse? I think not. Our Iran policy seems not to have discovered the connection between Iranian nuclearization and Iranian liberalization. The only sure solution to the former is the latter. It is no longer a fantasy to contemplate a new Iran. For this reason, American support for the democracy movement in Iran (he sounds like Bush! and he calls himself a liberal!) is not only a moral duty, it is also a strategic duty. Such support might indeed be "destabilizing," but there is no stability in Iran anymore, there is only a vicious tyranny fighting for its life against a popular uprising that explains itself with principles that we, too, espouse. It makes sense that the man who takes no side in that fight did not make it to Berlin.
(via the WSJ)

Related: This week I attended a conference entitled "The Cold War & It's Legacy" at Churchill College, Cambridge. There were lots of interesting things to come out of the conference, but I was particularly struck by the speech given by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigoriy Karasin.

In his speech, he made a lot of points making moral equivalence between the behavior of the USSR and the USA during the Cold War. At the conclusion, most of the audience sat in stunned silence. Finally someone asked him about the Katyn massacre and other immoral behaviors by the USSR, wondering if that's what he meant by both sides behaving similarly.

I could not believe my ears: Karasin, who had already fielded a question or two before this tough one, started his answer by saying that (and he laid the accent on thick) his 'English [was] not too good.'

True or not, I was shocked that he would fall back on the old Soviet question dodge that, frankly, hasn't seen as much play since the end (if, indeed, you believe it ended) of the Cold War.

Anyway, I took pages of notes, some of which may be of interest to you, dear reader. Stay tuned this week as I try and get it up between my teaching, supervision, and visits to the archives. Oh, and I'm off to Berlin. I'll be sure and take a picture next to the new Ronald Reagan monument by Checkpoint Charlie.

If you have tips, questions, comments or suggestions, email me at lybberty@gmail.com.