The Magazine

There's No False Choice on Iran

The consequence of a weak president.

Jun 29, 2009, Vol. 14, No. 39 • By FRED BARNES
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A day later, Obama made an egregious mistake. He suggested there's no difference on policy between Ahmadinejad and his presidential rival, Mir-Husseini Mousavi. Once again, that was helpful to Ahmadinejad. If the two are peas in a pod, what's all the fuss about? No reason to meddle, for sure.

In fact, there are significant differences. Mousavi leads the forces of reform and democracy. Ahmadinejad leads the forces of theocracy and repression. Mousavi wants to improve relations with the United States and says the matter of a nuclear weaponized Iran is "negotiable." Ahmadinejad has "shut the door" on both.

When Navy sharpshooters, with Obama's permission, shot Somali pirates and rescued an American ship captain, the president got well-deserved credit for smooth handling of a minor emergency. He was active and energetic when the stakes were small.

In Iran, the stakes are large, though you wouldn't know it from Obama's passive and ineffective response. He acts as if his choice of what to do in Iran is too difficult, too fraught with danger, for him to decide. It's not. A stronger president would see the choice as false.

Fred Barnes is executive editor of THE WEEKLY STANDARD.