President Barack Obama wanted to "reset" America's foreign policy following eight years of President George W. Bush pushing against the bad guys.
In March, President Obama released a video which was a greeting to the Iranian people on the occasion of the Persian new year. The Washington Post described the video as "offering a 'new beginning' in a tone that differed sharply from the anti-Iran rhetoric of his predecessor …"
The Post story went on to say that the Iranian government didn't think much of it because Obama didn't talk directly to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. An official was quoted as saying, "Statesmen address each other, instead of talking to the people."
It is just possible that the anti-Ahmadinejad forces in Iran misread the words they heard from Mr. Obama. It is just possible that they interpreted them as a signal to step up their public opposition to the government of Iran.
It is possible that the backers of opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi talked themselves into believing that, because President Obama had spoken directly to them - and not to Ahmadinejad - that he was tacitly promising to support them.
President Obama does not have the background or experience to deal with the barrage of foreign policy problems which appear to be confusing the White House.
In April, when Obama met with Latin American leaders, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Eugene Robinson - not known as a supporter of Conservative causes - wrote:
Chávez can be charming. But when Obama shook the man's hand, he should have telegraphed clearly, through posture, expression and language, that he was not amused. Chávez's gift of the book was meant to affront, not to enlighten, and I would have advised Obama to reciprocate in kind.
The Voice of America, an arm of the State Department, published a piece last night saying:
U.S. President Barack Obama has urged Iran's government to "stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people." He called on Iran to "govern through consent, not coercion."
That's the good news. The bad new is that the VoA pointed out with pride that those words represented "his strongest response to Iran's post-election unrest."
The Iranian government is not likely to worry much about strong statements like that. In the Reuters report which hit the wires last night, this warning to readers was at the top:
EDITORS' NOTE: Reuters and other foreign media are subject to Iranian restrictions on their ability to report, film or take pictures in Tehran.
Time Magazine reporter, Howard Chua-Eoan, wrote that the world is reduced to getting the Iranian story from snippets
"Arriving over the internet transom, rough and insistent and bloody, were the tiny electronic dispatches from protesters forced off the streets of Tehran, shaky videos from a city screaming for help."
Rather than cowering in the face of Obama's "strongest response," Reuters reported that the Iranian government, instead, issued new warnings against the demonstrators whom it described as "terrorists" and warned that "police would confront all gatherings and unrest with all its strength."
We don't know how this is going to turn out. The most likely outcome will be that the protesters will realize there will be no help - other than "strong responses" coming from the West - and the protests will, like a hurricane after it has made landfall, run out of heat and dissipate into interesting but relatively harmless rainstorms.
If that is the case, the Obama new year's video may well come to be compared to President John F. Kennedy's Bay of Pigs - when promises of help were withdrawn and we have watched the half-century rule of the Castro brothers over the people of Cuba.
North Korea is testing Obama. Iran is testing Obama. The Taliban are testing Obama. Even Jimmy Carter is testing Obama.
Carter, while everything else is falling apart, visited Gaza and was shown a school which the ruling Hamas said had been damaged by the Israelis.
Carter said said "it's very distressing to me" that the school had been "deliberately destroyed by bombs from F-16s made in my country and delivered to the Israelis."
With friends like Carter, who needs …"