In this photo taken by an individual not employed by the Associated Press and obtained by the AP outside Iran, university students attend a protest inside Tehran University while anti-riot Iranian police prevent them to join other protestors, in Tehran, Iran, Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017. A wave of spontaneous protests over Iran’s weak economy swept into Tehran on Saturday, with college students and others chanting against the government just hours after hard-liners held their own rally in support of the Islamic Republic’s clerical establishment. (AP Photo)
In 2009, Iran was hit with a series of protests over an obviously rigged election. The protests lasted for about two months before they were finally suppressed by the “moderate” regime with which Obama hoped to negotiate a nuclear deal. In a cynical exercise of realpolitik from a feckless goon who never missed a chance to lecture the nation about our “values,” Obama did not lift a finger to help or encourage the protesters. He sold them out to the mullahs with the same lack of concern as he consigned Libyans to a horror show by putting al Qaeda in charge there.
Now a new wave of demonstrations has hit the country. They may have their roots in complaints about the economy, but it is clear that pent-up anger over the way the nation is misgoverned is fueling them.
Today a guy named Philip Gordon, assistant secretary of state and White House coordinator for the Middle East during the Obama administration, writes an op-ed giving Trump advice on how to handle this Iran situation.
How Can Trump Help Iran’s Protesters? Be Quiet. https://t.co/w0MNlWMkxG
— Susan Rice (@AmbassadorRice) December 31, 2017
The first question that comes to mind is why would any sane person give a fat rat’s ass at what anyone in the Obama administration had to say on Iran. Under Obama, Iran was coddled. We sold out Iraq, and six years of blood and treasure, to appease Iran. We kicked off a regional war in Syria that only Iran would benefit from. We gave Iran a pathway paved with $10 billion in CASH and GOLD to build a nuclear weapon. We signed onto an unverifiable deal that places many known nuclear facilities off-limits to inspection. We allowed the piss-ant Iranian navy to push the US Navy around in the Arabian Sea. We allowed the Iranians to humiliate US sailors and did nothing. In short, there is nothing at all anyone in the Obama administration knows that is of any use to an administration that is not likewise hellbent on kowtowing to Tehran.
Mr. Trump, after all, has said Iran is responsible for nearly all the problems of the Middle East, and accuses the country of spreading “death destruction and chaos all around the globe.” The president would no doubt love to announce that his tough approach has delivered results by undermining the repressive Iranian government, and that his predecessor’s more conciliatory approach failed.
I, too, want to see the government in Tehran weakened, moderated or even removed. So let me offer Mr. Trump some unsolicited advice: Keep quiet and do nothing.
There you have it. The Obama strategy for dealing with our enemies in a nutshell: keep quiet and do nothing.
Gordon goes on with a parade of horribles if we do something:
One reason to worry that Mr. Trump may try to seize the moment by championing the protesters is that it has become an article of faith among President Barack Obama’s critics that in 2009 he missed a golden opportunity to do just that, when many Iranians took to the streets after a disputed election result. But it was never clear what difference American rhetorical support would have made then, other than allowing the Iranian government to depict the protesters as American lackeys, giving the security services more of a pretext to crack down violently.
Even if Mr. Obama’s support might have somehow been helpful to the Iranian opposition, Mr. Trump’s almost certainly will not be. Whatever Iranians think of their own government, they are unlikely to want as a voice for their grievances an American president who has relentlessly opposed economic relief for their country and banned them from traveling to the United States.
This focus on Trump’s travel ban in the face of Iranian protesters calls for regime change, reminds me of the focus on Syrian refugees while Assad & Russia’s Air Force with Iranian foot soldiers ethnically cleansed Syria.
These people deserve their countries back. Not visas.
— David Shor (@DYShor) December 31, 2017
As the man says, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. If Obama spoke out on Iran it may or may not have made any difference in Iran but it would have been standing up for American values and American interests. Contrary to what Gordon seems to think, both of those things matter. And then Gordon goes on to blame Trump. The Iranian protesters are not protesting to win Trump’s approval. They are not going to shut up because the government calls them nasty names. This is a grassroots uprising, not some kind of Ben Rhodes fabricated Astro-turf movement. Odds are that voices of encouragement will be welcome in Iran no matter where they come from so long as they are framed in the way the White House and State Department are doing them now.
And then we get to the real issue:
In addition, Mr. Trump is now threatening to “terminate” the nuclear deal (breaking with European allies and the rest of the United Nations Security Council); unconditionally supports Iran’s biggest adversaries, Saudi Arabia and Israel; and recently recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a move rejected by every other country in the region. His policies are dividing the United States from its international partners and giving Iranians reasons to unite against him. A smarter strategy would be designed to do the opposite.
To the extent that these protests are a sign of the Iranian public’s discontent with its leaders, they also belie Mr. Trump’s argument that the nuclear deal provided “urgently needed relief from the intense domestic pressure the sanctions had created,” as he put it in his October speech. On the contrary, while providing Iran some real economic benefits, the implementation of that deal over the last two years has also taken away the Iranian government’s ability to blame the United States for Iran’s enduring economic woes.
If Mr. Trump blows up the deal and reimposes sanctions, he will not be doing the opposition a favor but instead giving Iranians a reason to rally to — rather than work against — the government they might otherwise despise.
People of Mashhad shout "No Gaza, No Lebanon, our lives are devoted to Iran" protesting Iran's Islamic regime for financially supporting terrorist groups such as #Hezbollah and #Hamas pic.twitter.com/Ed7YaqBwxK
— Babak Taghvaee – Μπάπακ Τακβαίε – بابک تقوایی (@BabakTaghvaee) December 28, 2017
Via Times of Israel:
Protests rocking Iran that began as an outcry over economic issues have metastasized into demonstrations against a host of issues, including the regime’s support for Palestinian causes while ignoring problems at home.
The protests began in the second city of Mashhad on Thursday as an attack on high living costs but quickly turned against the Islamic regime as a whole.
There have been reports of chants in favor of the monarchy toppled by the Islamic revolution of 1979, while others have criticized the regime for supporting the Palestinians and other regional movements rather than focusing on problems at home.
The slogan “Not Gaza, Not Lebanon, I Give My Life for Iran” has been repeated in protests across the country, which stretched into a third day Saturday.
In short, nothing Gordon says in this op-ed in the way of objections comports with the actual facts of either 2009 or today. Keeping quiet at this critical juncture is moral bankruptcy of the worst kind. While there is a concern that too much encouragement could lead to a replay of Hungary in 1956, it is a chance we need to be willing to take.
The best you can say is that Gordon is a profoundly stupid man who thinks the administration he served actually forwarded American interests. The more likely explanation is that this is simply a case of political c–k-blocking to prevent Trump from succeeding, or even trying to succeed, where the Obama administration sat on its hands.