RSS
Obama's Iran policy
The cost and benefits of playing it cool during Iran's uprising
W

hat happened

President Obama on Tuesday strongly condemned the Iranian government's crackdown, saying the United States was "appalled and outraged by the threats, beatings, and imprisonments of the last few days." The remarks were tougher than any Obama had made since Iranians began protesting over widespread perceptions of electoral fraud. Aides said the president didn't want it to look like he was taking sides in Iran's internal politics. (The Washington Post)

What the commentators said

Republicans are furious at President Obama's insistence on playing it cool during Iran's pro-democracy uprising, said Richard Cohen in The Washington Post. But Obama is merely showing that he knows his history. "The student in him knows that the worst thing the United States could do at the moment is provide the supreme leader and the less supreme leaders with the words to paint the opposition as American stooges -- or, even worse, suggest to the protesters that some sort of help is on its way from Washington."

Obama's Iran policy will fail no matter who wins on the streets of Tehran, said Jonah Goldberg in the Los Angeles Times. "If the forces of reform and democracy win, Obama's plan to negotiate with the regime is moot, for the regime will be gone. And if the forces of reform are crushed into submission by the regime, Obama's plan is moot, because the regime will still be there."

It's hard to imagine what more Republicans want from Obama, said Joan Walsh in Salon. The president has condemned Iran's crackdown on the pro-democracy protesters as unfair and appalling. "Amid the din of braying Republicans, which has somehow become as big a story as the Iranian uprising itself, no one seems to be listening to Obama."

The real test for Obama's Iran policy may come later, said Bret Stephens in The Wall Street Journal. Shiite imam Mohsen Kadivar -- well-known in Iran and now teaching at Duke -- "praises President Obama's "no meddling" stance so far," but says the U.S. must not recognize President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad once he starts his second term -- sealed in a farcical, fraudulent election. "As for the green revolutionaries, they will soon find out what consolation, or strength, they draw from knowing God is on their side, with or without America."

EDITORS' PICKS

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week