The first memories I have of a President were of Jack Kennedy. There were many different facets of his image, but there one that is quite clear. He was an unabashed supporter of Democracy. Not only Democracy for the United States, but throughout the world. If the current situation in Iran is any indication, the current crop of Democrats has lost their way on this issue.
This past week’s actions in Iran have been a defining moment in Iran and the entire Middle East. Yet our current President decided to sit on the sidelines. Not only did he sit on the sidelines, but so has every other Democrat along with the entirety of the liberal media. The only commentary I found criticizing Obama’s approach to Iran’s street protests was by Robert Guttman on Huffington Post. Senator John Kerry wrote an article published in the New York Times fully endorsing Mr. Obama’s nearly nonexistent reaction to this pivotal moment.
At the same time, the right-of-center world was totally supportive of protesters and their right to live in a freely-elected Democracy. Every publication and every TV broadcast was filled with calls to support the protesters in their fight against this repressive regime.
To be fair, Republican Presidents have made mistakes in recent times on this issue. Gerald Ford refused to meet with refuseniks from the Soviet Union. Ronald Reagan’s initial response was slow to the upheaval in the Philippines, but he quickly changed course.
But since the time of Reagan and then reinforced by George W. Bush, the Republicans have clearly been on the side of spreading Democracy throughout the world. Mr. Bush spent his entire second inaugural speech on this topic, and it will remain as one of the hallmark commentaries on the fight between despots and democrats. Mr. Bush placed the United States firmly on the side of democracy for all people as a continuation of our heritage since our inception. Mr. Obama has attempted to reject almost everything Bush, but not endorsing this policy is a tragic mistake.
Mr. Obama’s justification is the fact that he does not want the United States to be the issue. While at lunch Wednesday, I was ranting to a friend about the mistakes the Obama Administration made this week on Iran. One thing I pointed out was the naiveté they were displaying regarding the fact they did not want the U.S. to be the issue. I stated it does not take a genius to figure out the enemies of freedom were going to blame us no matter what we did. Sure enough, the mullahs came out later that day blaming the U.S. for interfering even though Obama was sitting on his hands.
All President Obama had to say was the following: “The United States stands for the rights of people everywhere. We believe that freely-elected democratic governments provide people with the best opportunity to seek fulfillment of their hopes and dreams, and we support people wherever they are in their pursuit of this goal. We also support the right of a free press to help protect these rights with unrestrained communication by that press by an interceding government trying to suppress that right.” If the Mullahs considered that statement to be United States intervention then so be it, but that is what this country is all about. Remember, no freely-elected democracy has ever attacked another freely-elected democracy. This is a path toward world peace.
Yet Obama has been seriously behind the curve here. The Europeans and even the French have been ahead of us in supporting the protesters in Iran. Ok, the President is the President, but where are the rest of the liberal elite? They are sitting on their hands also. They are sitting on their hands just like they did when Bush gave his second inaugural speech. And just like when Laura Bush was arguing about the newfound freedom for 25 million formerly repressed women in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I don’t get it. I lived through the sixties when the left in this country was supposedly all about personal freedom. Are they telling us they were all about personal freedom for themselves, but not people throughout the world? Is there no Democrat who is willing to stand up to Obama and say you are wrong; we need to support the freedom of the Iranian people?
And what is the risk? It is not as if the Iranian government is broadly supported in the Middle East. Every country, except for maybe Syria who Iran is paying, dislikes and distrusts the current regime. The Iranians are facing 30% unemployment rates and cannot get gasoline to fill up their cars. The Mullahs are a disaster and the time for them to go is now. As someone once said, “Carpe Diem.”
“We stand for freedom. That is our conviction for ourselves; that is our only commitment to others.” That is what a great American once said. That man was President Kennedy. President Obama and the rest of the Democrats need to heed those words. The people of Iran need all of us now and it is time to make clear that the United States is that beacon they all dream of becoming.