Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Green Lanternism on the Green Revolution

Eli Lake thinks that if only Obama had spoken more forcefully in favor of the protesters in the 2009 Green Revolution, that movement would have succeeded.  Lake compares how U.S. pressure was used to encourage Slobodan Milosevic and Eduard Shevardnadze to step down from power peacefully in Serbia and Georgia, respectively, but ignores the fact that the U.S. has been applying all kinds of pressure on Iran to change that regime since 1979 with little to show for it. Unlike Serbia in 2000 or Georgia in 2003, each of which had clear economic and political incentives to maintain good relations with the U.S. and thus was receptive to its wishes, Iran in 2009 was already clearly out of the U.S.'s favor and had no business ties with America after decades of economic sanctions.

Oddly, Lake does not mention the 2003 Iranian protests. In that case, President Bush spoke out in favor of the protesters, just like Lake claims President Obama should have done in 2009. Of course, Bush's words did not cause the Ayatollah to voluntarily relinquish power over Iran to student protest leaders. Why would it? The U.S. already had stringent sanctions against Iran. Bush's words did not carry with them the implicit threaten Iran with any economic loss or lack of political support in the future--the Iranian leadership knew they had no economic or political support from the U.S. to lose. So they ignored him and crushed the protest. Just as they did in 2009, whether or not Obama had spoken more forcefully.

(via Memeorandum)