Monday, June 22, 2009

We're so vain, we probably think Iran is about us

By Capt. Fogg

Back in the day -- the 60s, that is -- conservatives fostered and circulated the idea that the people who were opposed to continued armed interference in Vietnam were all but on the payroll of Chairman Mao. Mumblings about "front" organizations and accusations of treason were commonplace even without anything resembling the internet to make it easy. One of the planned results of the strategy was to make it easier to continue the war indefinitely, violate the civil rights of objectors and easier to get conservatives to support the violation. Suggestions that Ho Chi Minh preferred the Democratic candidate was heavy ammunition against him.

Now, of course, the Mullahs of Iran are far smarter than the average American -- who isn't? -- and if Barack Obama were to take on the traditional Republican role of moral bloviator and condemn the crackdown in Iran, they would be delighted to have the excuse that the thousands in the streets are foreign agents, motivated and backed and perhaps even paid by the United States. Any kind of violence could then be justified against these "enemy combatants" on religious and political grounds. Our open support of the protests in Tehran would effectively taint the movement which could be discussed as a Western incursion and not an Iranian movement by Iranians to take back control of Iran from a corupt government.

Our Average American, however, never can seem to resist a chance proudly to display anger and even more so when he can pretend it's moral outrage. CNN's current poll shows 76% in favor of having the president "condemn" the government of Iran as though he were himself an Ayatollah pronouncing a fatwah. Of course he has expressed sympathy for those seeking democracy and there is no one in the world who would think that we would support Khamenei anyway, but the contest between statecraft and soul satisfying, but counterproductive, rage has a predictable outcome.

I have severe misgivings and doubts about the way in which our economic predicament is being addressed, but when it comes to handling touchy and dangerous world affairs, Obama seems almost a genius compared to the man the Republicans would have had as president, strutting about a stage like an overweight, underpowered Mick Jagger, singing "bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran."

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

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