Obama moves against Iran’s crackdown on its people

Daniel Pipes writes at his blog:

Iranians bravely take the streets by the hundreds of thousands, confronting the police, the Pasdaran, and the basiji thugs of the Islamic republic—and what, other than words, does the Obama administration actually do to respond to these momentous events?

It disinvites Iranian diplomats from the July 4 festivities to be held at U.S. embassies, consulates, and missions.

I kid you not.

Hot dog diplomacy” was supposed to help break down 30 years of diplomatic isolation between the two countries—except that not a single Iranian had accepted the invitation, rather diminishing both the gesture and its rescinding. Glenn Kessler recounts in the Washington Post:

The White House announced yesterday that it had withdrawn invitations to Iranian diplomats to attend Fourth of July festivities at U.S. embassies around the world. The move is the first tangible penalty the United States has imposed against the Iranian government in the wake of the brutal crackdown of demonstrations over the disputed presidential elections. The United States and Iran have not had diplomatic relations for nearly three decades, but Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton recently authorized the invitations as a way of reaching out to the Islamic republic. U.S. officials said no Iranian diplomats thus far had responded to the invitations.

Comment: Both the attempt to reach out and then the punishment are wince-inducing and feeble acts. (June 25, 2009)

- end of initial entry -

Ken Hechtman writes:

One year ago, Daniel Pipes was demanding that we bomb (or prepare to bomb or threaten to bomb) Iran.

On that basis alone, he ought to sit this one out and let somebody else defend the “brave and noble Iranian people.” It’s just bad taste for him to do it now.

Even so, what does he suggest Obama actually do to support the protesters that has any reasonable chance of working?

LA replies:

I posted the Pipes item not because I take the position that we must “do” something about the Iranian situation, in fact I’ve said the opposite; but because, as Pipes points out, what Obama did do was such an embarrassing (and dangerous) expression of national weakness.

Ken Hechtman replies:
Obama’s administration did ask Twitter to stay up during the first days of protest.

U.S. State Department speaks to Twitter over Iran
Tue Jun 16, 2009 3:26pm EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters)—The U.S. State Department said on Tuesday it had contacted the social networking service Twitter to urge it to delay a planned upgrade that would have cut daytime service to Iranians who are disputing their election.

Confirmation that the U.S. government had contacted Twitter came as the Obama administration sought to avoid suggestions it was meddling in Iran’s internal affairs as the Islamic Republic battled to control deadly street protests over the election result….

Maybe not one of the great moments in diplomacy either, but it wasn’t nothing.

I agree that the barbecue gesture was an expression of weakness but the weakness is in the situation, not Obama’s character. Pipes’ tone suggests that Obama could and should be using stronger options. I can’t think what Pipes has in mind and he’s not saying. Obama can’t break diplomatic relations or declare a trade embargo or cut off travel or start arming guerrilla organizations—previous presidents have already done all those things.

LA replies:

Yes, what influence do we have over a country with whom we’ve already played all our hands but war?

Posted by Lawrence Auster at June 28, 2009 05:36 PM | Send

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