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theodore M I R A L D I mpa ... editor, publisher, writer
Tuesday, January 2, 2018
Former Obama Advisers Tell Trump to ‘BE QUIET’ on Iran Protests
JOEL B. POLLAK
Several key advisers to former President Barack Obama have poured scorn on President Donald Trump’s support for the protests sweeping Iran in recent days.
In 2009, when the “Green Revolution” threatened the Iranian regime, Obama and his administration refrained from supporting the protests. Obama said that “we respect Iranian sovereignty and want to avoid the United States being the issue inside of Iran.”
That weak response, and the administration’s general lack of support for the demonstrators, allowed the regime to consolidate power.
Obama was more concerned with preserving the possibility of an eventual deal on Iran’s nuclear program than he was in removing the Iranian regime as a strategic threat or in standing up for human rights. Critics charge that Obama missed a golden opportunity.
President Trump has taken the opposite approach, vigorously supporting the protests and criticizing the regime:
Many reports of peaceful protests by Iranian citizens fed up with regime’s corruption & its squandering of the nation’s wealth to fund terrorism abroad. Iranian govt should respect their people’s rights, including right to express themselves. The world is watching! #IranProtests
Big protests in Iran. The people are finally getting wise as to how their money and wealth is being stolen and squandered on terrorism. Looks like they will not take it any longer. The USA is watching very closely for human rights violations!
Iran, the Number One State of Sponsored Terror with numerous violations of Human Rights occurring on an hourly basis, has now closed down the Internet so that peaceful demonstrators cannot communicate. Not good!
Iran is failing at every level despite the terrible deal made with them by the Obama Administration. The great Iranian people have been repressed for many years. They are hungry for food & for freedom. Along with human rights, the wealth of Iran is being looted. TIME FOR CHANGE!
But the Obama brain trust rejects Trump’s approach, and apparently believes the approach Obama took in 2009 remains the best one.
Former National Security Advisor Susan Rice tweeted a New York Timesop-ed by former Obama aide Philip Gordon, “How Can Trump Help Iran’s Protesters? Be Quiet.” The author argues that supporting the protests, and taking steps to end the Iran nuclear deal, will only help the regime to delegitimize its internal opponents.
Rice offered no other statement of solidarity for the demonstrators.
Rob Malley, who had once been dropped from the Obama campaign for meeting with the Hamas terrorist group but found his way back into the administration in negotiations with Iran, also praised Gordon’s op-ed.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was in office during the Green Revolution, was more supportive of the protesters, but said merely that she “hope[d]” the Iranian regime would listen to them.
With humility about how little we know about what's happening inside Iran, this much is clear: it's an Iranian moment and not anyone else's. But the rights of people to protest peacefully and voice their aspirations are universal and governments everywhere should respect that.
Former Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes, who ran an “echo chamber” of administration-friendly pundits to sell the Iran deal to the American public, criticized American observers who believed the U.S. should encourage the protests:
The Iranian people are rightfully demanding dignity, less corruption, more opportunity, and greater control over their lives. In looking at US twitter, it seems lost on too many that this is about what Iranians want for Iran, and not about us.
In his 2014 book Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates admitted that although he had been persuaded at the time “that too powerful an American voice on behalf of the protesters might provide ammunition for the regime,” he later regretted it: “In retrospect, I think we could and should have done more, at least rhetorically.” (328)