Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Mullah-ing Over Iran

Like the rest of the world I have been following closely the situation in Iran. Since America has some recent history with what happens when someone gets elected who may not have really been elected, we can see that the future for Iran may not be pretty.

At home we have Sen. McCain and pals excoriating Presidant Obama for being soft on the Mullahs. This is the same McCain who about a year ago was captured joking about "Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran." Now he is belittling the U.S. president for not being more forceful in dealing with the Mullahs. I suppose there is a consistency here if you dig deeply enough but on the surface we have him showing a new found senstive side by wanting to support the poor Iranian people against their leaders--the same people who would have been the recipients of the bombing he joked about.

So where do things stand? Whose up and down on the scorecard? Well, many (include me) think that President Obama has shown real leadership and nuance in his handling of the situation so far. Speaking softly seems wise when you have no stick to wield. Certainly it seems wiser than speaking loudly when you have nothing to back it up. We are already fighting two wars, suffering through a disastrous economy, and haven't had diplomatic relations with Iran for 30 years. We are already supporting economic sanctions against them. What do we have to threaten with that is meaningful--holding our breath until we turn blue? Others feel he has had his 3 o'clock phone call and has fumbled the receiver. Some think the Republicans have looked tough and agressive (that's a new one for the party of "shock and awe") while others think that once again they are suffering from hoof in mouth disease. Some see the Mullahs and clerics who have ultimate power and who lead Iran as having been weakened as they go about crushing resistence and consolidating their power. Others see the beginning of the end for the Islamic republic. Many see the cause of women having been furthered by the actions of the women on the street of Tehran. This, while the government moves agressively to suppress them.

I think the clear winners in all this are the people of Iran. They have shown their human face to the world. The iconic shooting of Neda and its world-wide sharing has put a face on one leg of the "axis of evil." It is not unlike the realization that grew during the Cold War that the Russians loved their children too. Yes, we will likely continue to have real problems with the government of Iran. But none as great as the people of Iran will have. Meanwhile we have come to see these same people as heroic, as yearning for things similar to what we yearn for and most of all, we have come to see them as human. Next time someone wants to sing "Bomb,bomb,bomb Iran" the face of Neda and her sisters and brothers is what we will all think of. Once you have humanized an enemy, they can no longer be your enemy.

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