I have waited through the Obama Administration's timid and timorous declamations for something approximating an honorable statement of support for the Iranian people with whose dictators it has shown such baffling eagerness to "engage."
To be clear, I do not think that it is appropriate for the American President to comment on the results of Iran's election; that is an internal matter to Iran, and staking out a strong position on it would indeed constitute "meddling." Still, although the Head of State could not come out thus, the Legislature quite laudably stepped up with a clear statement of condemnation for the crackdown on dissent (with the tediously predictable exception of Ron Paul, of course). There is merit to the argument that too strong a position by the Executive in support of the opposition to the regime in Tehran would feed into the propaganda of US Imperialism (though it can hardly be seen as needing much additional fuel).
However, the Obama Administration waited altogether too long, and its statements have been entirely too "measured" for my tastes, in the matter of stating support for free expression of dissent without fear of violent repression. We need not have endorsed Mousavi, nor offered speculations (however well-grounded) on the mechanics of Iranian electoral procedures to have stood strongly behind those who sought to have their voices heard. The failure to have done so right from the outset is an enduring shame on our Nation and the ideals for which it purportedly stands.
I have no idea how all this will turn out. I do not pretend to be able to prognosticate about what form the Iranian regime will ultimately take in the wake of all this. I do know that this situation has revealed and amplified some very deep fissures within the Iranian power structure, and probably irrevocably damaged the veneer of infallibility which the clerical body at the top has at least nominally enjoyed since 1979. It is likely that some sorts of accommodations will have to take place, lest the Mullahs be forced to set up the sort of frank dictatorship which they have worked so hard to conceal under the guise of a wafer-thin "Republic."
Michael Ledeen sums up the situation ably:
Those who think they can foresee the outcome of this revolutionary war have greater confidence in their prophetic powers than I. I don’t think Mousavi or Khamenei has any such confidence; they are fighting it out, as they must. Victory or defeat can come about slowly or rapidly, the result of cunning, courage or accident, and most likely a combination of all three. One thing seems certain: the Iranian people were right when they realized that nobody in the outside world would help them. They’re on their own.
Which is indeed a great pity, and a terrible stain on our national virtue.
Indeed. And may the gods save them...and us all.