NOT Taking a Side Can Be Taking a Side

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: Jun 20, 2009 1:40 PM
The Iranian mullahs are cracking down on mostly peaceful protestors with live ammunition, water cannons, batons and tear gas.

And yet, the President remains silent.

Certainly, everyone understands the difficulties of balancing support for freedom-loving protestors against other geopolitical considerations.  There was only so much America could do for the young people in China's Tiananmen Square twenty years ago.

In handling the disputed election in the Ukraine, President Bush likewise understood the importance of not jeopardizing this nation's relationship with Russia.  But even so, he "stayed closely involved" as even The New York Times conceded, and authorized Secretary of State Colin Powell to speak out strongly.

In contrast, no one in the Obama administration has spoken out about anything -- and note that there's not a world superpower (like China or Russia) taking the mullahs' side.

What has to happen before the President will eschew the role in which he is most comfortable -- that of "nuanced balancer of adversaries" -- and be willing to at least signal support for Iranians who want a freer, and perhaps more moderate, Iran?  Sometimes, after all,  not taking a side becomes the functional equivalent of taking a side.  Allow the protestors to be mowed down without making a peep from the US effectively empowers the mullahs.

And will the President really be willing to negotiate with a government that has its own citizens' blood on its hands?