Posts Tagged ‘Iran’

One of the Democrats’ chief criticisms of the Bush Administration, one that sometimes had merit, was that it refused to alter its strategy or message in the face of new facts.  In foreign affairs, that meant it took us three years to react to the Iraqi insurgency in a manner beyond “staying the course.”  On the domestic front, that meant allowing several appointees to serve far longer than their records justified (Gonzales, McLellan, Powell, Rumsfeld) and establishing a bunker mentality in response to press criticism.

The Obama Administration struck at this central failing of the last regime by promising pragmatism and common-sense straight from the “reality-based community.” No longer would partisan bias cloud the White House’s response to the nation’s challenges.  Spin would be replaced by transparency.  Facts would drive policy, not the other way around.

But one year into the politics of hope and change, and we are seeing a pattern develop about how this crowd handles inconvenient facts.  All summer, the economic facts rolled in that the stimulus bill had done little to create jobs or improve the economy, and that the “shovel-ready” projects so urgently needed were figments of the Democratic imagination.  Rather than change course and respond with an alternative strategy, Joe Biden repeatedly claimed that the stimulus was working, and that things were better than they would have been.  Only recently, when the Administration wanted to pass a new stimulus, was it willing to acknowledge the grand failure that was spending $787 million billion for 2.5% fewer jobs.

When the mullahs of Iran bungled its election fix this summer, the Obama State Department first abetted it, then ignored it, then begrudgingly decried it before returning to full appeasement mode.  Iranians were left to shout a remarkably Bushian line at our President – “Obama, are you with us or are you against us?”   But the answer was clear — the White House was choosing to ignore a pro-freedom Iranian revolution in hopes for a deal with the despots.  Even so, deadline after deadline was ignored, deals were cut and then broken, and Ahmedinejad continues to promise death to Israel.  All the while, Team Obama has refused to acknowledge what even France has acknowledged — Iran is just playing out the clock while it builds a nuclear bomb.

On the eve of the global warming summit, stunning revelations about the science underlying the alleged global-catastrophe-in-waiting should have led a pragmatist to take a step back and review the facts before committing a country in the red to billions more in federal aid.  A pragmatist might have also postponed announcement of a sweeping regulatory decision based on that same science, which threatened to impose billions more in environmental compliance costs on a seriously wounded economy.  In an Administration committed to “restoring integrity to U.S. science policy to ensure that decisions that can be informed by science are made on the basis of the strongest possible evidence,” one might expect that getting the science right would be of the utmost concern.  Such an Administration, and such a pragmatist, is not in residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, however.

Public doesn’t want Guantanamo closed?  Ignore them and do it anyway.  Released terrorists are returning to the war on terror?  Deny the war, release more terrorists.  Health care bill doesn’t bend the cost curve, which you required of any bill you’d sign?  Say it does anyway, and deny you ever required it to do that.  Islamic terrorists attack the U.S. three times in one year?  They’re lone wolves – we’ve got it all under control – but please stand in line another hour at the airport, just in case.

Carol Lee of Politico goes into greater depth about the P.R. tactics the White House has used to ignore the facts that threaten their worldview, but I’m more concerned about the worldview itself.  We have a president who ran exclusively on the idea that he was no ideologue, that he had no dog in the partisan fights that plague Washington, and that his Administration would rise above the pettiness and do what was necessary to reform and protect America. Given these facts, the pragmatist in me says there are only two ways to react to Year One of Obama: either our President is a lying ideologue, or he’s very, very bad at knowing what is necessary to reform and protect America.

The facts themselves are clear, however.  The President will be judged by the voters in November based on how he responds to the hard facts in Iran, the muddled half-truths of climate change, the plain facts of a falling dollar, a rising debt, and a nation out of work.  Rhetorical flourishes cannot change them.  I just hope our political leaders are prepared to face them.

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As many have noted, it is hilarious and stunning that our President was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize when he had been in office 11 days, and that he won it without any major international accomplishment to his credit. But consider how President Obama and Democrats have treated his fellow honorees and their most-beloved causes and countries.

The Dalai Lama

This week, President Obama declined to meet with Tibet’s Dalai Lama when he was in Washington, the first time a President has failed to meet with His Holiness during a visit to the United States. While the White House has publicly stated that this was a mutual decision based on scheduling difficulties, observers have widely speculated that this was an effort to appease China in advance of President Obama’s visit there in November. China, of course, is the very government that has oppressed the Dalai Lama’s Tibetan people, and from which he has sought relief and freedom for his entire life while living in exile. The Dalai Lama won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for this peaceful and nonviolent struggle.

Aung San Suu Kyi

For months, Senator Jim Webb has sought to aggrandize the Burmese government and lift sanctions that the United States have imposed since 2003.  President Obama blessed Webb’s recent visit to Burma, has done nothing to dissuade his Democratic colleague from his efforts, and his State Department issued visas upon Sen. Webb’s request that allowed Burmese representatives into the country last month (for a hearing where he refused to allow opponents to speak). Burma, of course, is the home of Aung San Suu Kyi, who won the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize “for her nonviolent struggle for democracy and human rights.” Burma has held Kyi under house arrest for years in retaliation for her efforts to free her people. When Sen. Webb visited her earlier this year, he emerged from the conference to say that Kyi supported his efforts wholeheartedly.  Burmese activists have strongly disputed this account, and Kyi herself has graciously avoided conflict with Webb while affirming her opposition to the junta.  Meanwhile, the Obama Administration has signaled that it may be willing to lift sanctions against Burma.

Elie Wiesel

President Obama toured Buchenwald with Elie Wiesel in June of this year. During their visit, Wiesel slammed those who hadn’t learned from the Holocaust, and specifically called on the President to bring “a sense of security for Israel, a sense of security for its neighbors,” clearly invoking the Holocaust denials and threats issued by Iran’s Ahmedinejad. But rather than create that sense of security, President Obama has taken no steps to protect Israel or its neighbors from Iran’s growing nuclear threat. Instead, he has demanded that Israel stop expanding into territories it won in a war waged to bring about its destruction. Indeed, his representatives have met face to face with Iranian diplomats, engaging in direct diplomacy with a government that promises the world that Israel will be “wiped off the map.” Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986.

Shirin Ebadi

When President Ahmedinejad was up for reelection in June 2009, there was not much hope among international observers that there would be real change in that country. Even if Ahmedinejad had lost the election, his opponent Mir Hossain Mousavi was believed to be just a different face for the theocratic radicals that rule behind the scenes. But no one could have anticipated the populist uprising that would demand true democracy, human rights, and the end of the Islamic Revolution.  During those transformative weeks, Mousavi became a champion for democracy, women in scarves and burqas were at the forefront of street protests and demonstrations, and young men and women thronged in the boulevards of Tehran, shouting not “Death to America!” but “Death to the dictator!.”  An Iranian woman, Neda Agha-Soltan, was shot by the Basij, and the video of her death became the symbol of the protests.  Ultimately, police and armed militias arrested or killed hundreds of protesters and ended the immediate threat to the government by force.

Shirin Ebadi won the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize “for her efforts for democracy and human rights” in Iran.  As the Nobel Committee noted, “[s]he has focused especially on the struggle for the rights of women and children.”  Long a target of the Iranian regime and its surrogates, Ebadi called for new elections during the post-election strife, and she has not been able to return to her country since.  She has criticized the West for placing nuclear negotiations ahead of demands for human rights and democracy, saying that “[u]ndemocratic countries are more dangerous than a nuclear bomb. It’s undemocratic countries that jeopardise international peace.”  Rather than a strengthening of relations, she has called for “the downgrading of Western embassies, the withdrawal of ambassadors and the freezing of the assets of Iran’s leaders.”  The Obama Administration, on the other hand, took days to state that the election was fraudulent, and more to say that its fraud was significant.  In the weeks and months since, it has initiated direct negotiations with Ahmedinejad’s government, with no apparent repercussions for his fraudulent election or the violent oppression of Iran’s people.

So I ask: How can President Obama stand next to these courageous Nobel laureates, wearing the same prize given to Linas Pauling, George Marshall, Lech Walesa, and Mother Teresa, and feel worthy of the award?

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