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Obama's "Deep Admiration" for Iranian Protesters

4:47 PM, Dec 28, 2009 • By JAMIE FLY
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Earlier today, the President emerged from his Hawaii vacation to discuss the failed terror attack last week.  He also raised the protests that occurred in recent days in Iran, saying:

"The United States joins with the international community in strongly condemning the violent and unjust suppression of innocent Iranian citizens, which has apparently resulted in detentions, injuries, and even death.  For months, the Iranian people have sought nothing more than to exercise their universal rights. Each time they have done so, they have been met with the iron fist of brutality, even on solemn occasions and holy days. And each time that has happened, the world has watched with deep admiration for the courage and the conviction of the Iranian people who are part of Iran's great and enduring civilization.  What's taking place within Iran is not about the United States or any other country. It's about the Iranian people and their aspirations for justice and a better life for themselves. And the decision of Iran's leaders to govern through fear and tyranny will not succeed in making those aspirations go away.  As I said in Oslo, it's telling when governments fear the aspirations of their own people more than the power of any other nation.  Along with all free nations, the United States stands with those who seek their universal rights. We call upon the Iranian government to abide by the international obligations that it has to respect the rights of its own people.  We call for the immediate release of all who have been unjustly detained within Iran. We will continue to bear witness to the extraordinary events that are taking place there. And I'm confident that history will be on the side of those who seek justice."

It's unclear how the world watching with "deep admiration" and his administration continuing to "bear witness" will result in the opposition actually bringing down the regime, which is what, as Steve Hayes writes, should be the real goal of U.S. Iran policy in 2010.  After remaining silent during much of the protests that erupted in June after Iran's fraudulent election, the President finally seems to have woken up to the fact that the United States can no longer appear indifferent, but he still seems reticent about completely condemning the Iranian regime.
 
This unusual formulation may be because despite the administration's recent bluster about moving towards sanctions, some in his administration still harbor hopes that a deal with the regime is possible.  Last week, Sen. John Kerry's office floated the idea that he might visit Tehran in a last-ditch effort to resolve the nuclear standoff.  Instead of shutting down this idea, an unnamed White House official told Jay Solomon of the Wall Street Journal that a Kerry trip to Tehran was " the kind of travel a chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee would -- and should - undertake."  How are the Iranians supposed to interpret these mixed messages?  Should they be worried that "crippling sanctions" are on the way or should they be planning for the propaganda coup that would result from a Kerry visit during a time when the regime appears to be weaker than ever? 
 
Now that the President seems so concerned about the events unfolding on Iran's streets, perhaps someone should ask the White House whether the President believes that Sen. Kerry should even contemplate a visit to Tehran to meet with the very officials that are ordering the beatings and killings he has just condemned.  The answer might tell us how far he is really willing to go to "bear witness."