The Magazine

Resolutely Irresolute

Obama dithers while Tehran burns.

Jun 29, 2009, Vol. 14, No. 39 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES and WILLIAM KRISTOL
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(1) expresses its support for all Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties, and rule of law;

(2) condemns the ongoing violence against demonstrators by the Government of Iran and pro-government militias, as well as the ongoing government suppression of independent electronic communication through interference with the Internet and cell phones; and

(3) affirms the universality of individual rights and the importance of democratic and fair elections.

The lone "no" vote came from Representative Ron Paul. "I have admired President Obama's cautious approach to the situation in Iran," said Paul, "and I would have preferred that we in the House had acted similarly."

That was apparently enough to push the White House over the edge. After the House vote Friday afternoon, Robert Gibbs said the resolution's language is "very consistent" with what President Obama has been saying. Indeed, he claimed, "it echoes the words of President Obama throughout the week."

Right. Still, better late than never.

In 1823, first-term congressman Daniel Webster spoke up in support of the Greek revolution. Responding to critics who said that mere rhetorical support would do the revolutionaries no good, Webster said: "I hope it may. It may give them courage and spirit. It may assure them of public regard, teach them that they are not wholly forgotten by the civilized world, and inspire them with constancy in the pursuit of their great end."

And in any case, Webster continued, support for those fighting for freedom abroad was "due to our own character, and called for by our own duty."

French president Nicolas Sarkozy seemed to grasp this aspect of leadership when he said, "We support the Iranian people, and today the Iranian people are on the street."

It's not too late for the president of the United States to act in a manner due to our own character and called for by our own duty.

--Stephen F. Hayes and William Kristol