Thursday, May 13, 2010

Why Is President Obama So Hesitant to Endorse Iranian Democracy Movements?

Iran is one of the top foreign policy agendas for the Obama administration, because of threats of nuclear proliferation, influence on insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan, connections with terrorists in Palestine and Lebanon, and impacts on regional security. However, when Iranian citizens stood up against fraud in the presidential election last June, President Barack Obama was very reluctant to endorse them. President Obama may not have confidence in America, as he blamed US intervention to the Anglo-Iranian Oil Dispute in 1953 to oust Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh. However, it was Mossadegh’s fault to use the Soviet card at the height of the Cold War, in view of Stalin made Iran crisis in 1946.

Nile Gardiner, former foreign policy staff to Lady Margaret Thatcher, criticizes such apologetic attitude shown in the Cairo Speech. He says that the world needs robust American leadership, instead of Carter-styled modesty (“Barack Obama should stop apologising for America”; Daily Telegraph; 3 June 2009).

John Noonan, Policy Advisor at the Foreign Policy Initiative, insists that diplomatic efforts must be combined with active support for civil movements toward Iranian democracy. Otherwise, he warns that Iran will fall into another North Korea(”A Passive―Aggressive Strategy for Toppling Tehran”; Weekly Standard Blog; May 6, 2010). President Obama may be exploring to reach an agreement with Iranian theocrats without provoking civil movements in this country. But remember that Robert Kagan, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, comments, “Today the autocrats pursue foreign policies aimed at making the world safe, if not for all autocracies, then at least for their own” (“The Return of the History and the End of Dreams”; p. 61). Therefore, I shall never agree with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, saying that "Negotiations should be conducted with logic, not with pressure. If negotiations and pressure occur at the same time there's no way these negotiations can go forward." The United States needs to use pressure in close cooperation with Iranians pursuing freedom.

Actually, Ex-Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi comments that it is the nature of current regime of Iran that matters. Pahlavi says that resentment to Shiite autocracy has come to unprecedented level among Iranian grassroots (“Pour les Iraniens, le nucléaire est secondaire”; Paris Match; 9 février 2010).

Whether agree or disagree to his policy, I have no doubt that President Obama is dedicated to tackle the Iranian nuclear problem. Even though Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama tried to discuss the Futenma Base Issue with the President during the 10 minuet talk at the last Nuclear Security Summit, most of the time was spent on Iran. However, finesse diplomacy with Russia and China is just a part of managing Iranian challenges. It is vital for the United States to endorse Iranian citizens who shares liberty values with Americans. The Obama administration needs to return to the national fundamental of the United States to strengthen the soft power. Iran is a vital case, and nuclear non-proliferation is not the only issue.