Watching the mainstream media coverage of the demonstrations in Iran following their elections, you would think that the protests have been all about Obama and his Cairo speech delivered on June 4.
Barack Obama appeared to take great credit for whatever would happen when he delivered a rambling answer to a press question about what was happening in Iran prior to the election results being released (and Ahmadinejad being declared the winner):
“Uh, we are excited, uh, to see, uh, what appears to be a robust debate taking place in Iran. And obviously after the speech, uh, that I made in Cairo, uh, we tried to send a clear message that, uh, we think there is the possibility of change, uhhh, aaaand — ehhh, yuh– oh – Ultimately the election is for the Iranians to decide, but just a-as has been true in Lebanon, uh, what’s, uh — can be true in Iran as well is that you’re seeing, uh, people looking at new, uh, possibilities. And, uh, whoever ends up winning, uh, the election in Iran, the fact that there’s been a robust debate hopefully will help, uh, advance, uh, our ability to engage them in new ways.”
But there are some major problems with the “Obama’s speech changed the world” thesis:
For one thing, Obama’s speech failed to offer any new changes in American policy. As an example, even PBS’ positive article on the speech confessed:
While President Obama’s speech contained no new policy proposals on the Middle East, he called upon Israelis and Palestinians alike to live up to their international obligations and to work towards a two-state solution.
And with all due respects, it’s not like Obama’s devoid of actual policy change “call” ignited the Islamic world.
Any many Muslims rightly said, “Nice speech, but let’s wait and see what Obama actually does.”
One late night comedic take on the speech a group of terrorists wearing masks and bandoleers of weapons and ammunition listening to Obama’s speech in front of a television. When Obama seemed to say something about offering peace, they got up, “high-fived” one another, and began to take off their weapons. But then, even as they were in the process of taking off their weapons, Obama seemed to say something that went against the grain of his immediately previous statement, so the terrorists shrugged and started putting on their weapons again.
Bottom line: the comedic take ended up with the terrorists still armed with all of their weapons, just as they had been prior to the speech.
Fausta’s blog dealt with some of what was missing from the speech:
1. The word TERRORIST. “Violent extremism” doesn’t happen on its own. It’s done by terrorists.
2. Details on closing Gitmo “by early next year.” Surely Pres. Obama realizes that it’s not enough to say “I have ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed by early next year.” Where will those terrorists be sent? What will be the international reaction?
3. A firm position on women’s rights. As Peter Ladou said regarding the tepid language on this issue:
Is that a joke?With women being stoned, raped, abused, battered, mutilated, and slaughtered on a daily basis across the globe, violence that is so often perpetrated in the name of religion, the most our president can speak about is protecting their right to wear the hijab? I would have been much more heartened if the preponderance of the speech had been about how in the 21st century, we CANNOT tolerate the pervasive abuse of our mothers and sisters and daughters.
Most troubling of all, the speech lacked
4. An unequivocal, firm stance on democracy: A “commitment to governments that reflect the will of the people” is not enough. Tyrants since the dawn of history have been summoning the masses to demonstrate their regimes “reflect the will of the people.”
Additionally, the statement, “America does not presume to know what is best for everyone” is equivocating on a moral point. America, from its birth, has been a champion of democracy, and should remain stalwart in its position.
Did Obama truly think there was little or no difference between the so-called “glass ceiling” women might find in America with the stonings and mutilations of women all-too common in the Islamic world?
As to this last point, Charles Krauthammer – after citing specific examples of just such moral equivalency from Obama’s speech – says this:
Obama undoubtedly thinks he is demonstrating historical magnanimity with all these moral equivalencies and self-flagellating apologetics. On the contrary. He’s showing cheap condescension, an unseemly hunger for applause and a willingness to distort history for political effect.
Distorting history is not truth-telling, but the telling of soft lies. Creating false equivalencies is not moral leadership, but moral abdication. And hovering above it all, above country and history, is a sign not of transcendence but of a disturbing ambivalence toward one’s own country.
Let me offer a rival explanation as to why Iranians are revolting against the results of the elections, even after the Ayatollah “sanctified” the results by claiming the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reflected a “divine assessment.”
How about the hard-fought-for result of an actual democracy in Iraq right next to Iran?
How about the fact that Iranians had the chance to see not one, but now several, freely-held elections with Iraqi people being able to victoriously hold up purple-ink-smudged fingers as proof that they had been able to freely vote for the candidates of their choice?
Just how is it that Obama’s speech is somehow more important than that?
Let’s not forget the fact that neither Barack Obama nor the mainstream media wanted the Iraqi people to be able to freely vote for the candidates of their choice. They opposed the toppling of dictator and tyrant butcher Saddam Hussein – who had murdered at a minimum 400,000 of his own people and buried them in mass graves – having the opportunity to vote that George Bush and the magnificent American military courageously won for them.
And these same people who opposed the establishment of an Iraqi democracy in the heart of the Arab world are now telling you that a damn SPEECH filled with meaningless moral equivalencies and devoid of substance or policy accomplished a change in the heart of the Iranian people?
The mainstream media gleefully covered every death and every failure in Iraq and continued to cover it – until President Bush and the American military began to turn things around. And then the coverage dried up. These dishonest peddlers of propaganda were unwilling to represent the effort in Iraq as successful.
You can go back and find the left predicting in 2003 that “Bush’s declared attempt to introduce democracy in Iraq by force seems set to fail.” In 2005 the naysayers who called hope for democracy in Iraq “the province of fools” abounded. Then you can find media elites in 2006 suggesting that the elections in Iraq are good news, but still not as good as it should have been. Now we have a full-fledged stable democracy in the heart of the Arab world, and it is seemingly irrelevant to whatever positive pro-democracy changes that might be taking place immediately around Iraq.
The mainstream media allowed the Democrat Party to literally cut-and-run from its earlier positions on Iraq without coverage or analysis. Democrats were allowed to be for the deposing of Saddam Hussein before they were against it. Democrats like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid were allowed to claim “I believe that this war is lost“ while our troops were still fighting on foreign soil to secure victory.
Articles still condemning Bush for Iraq by the mainstream media continue to go for about a dime a dozen, but the Wall Street Journal on January 31st, 2009 offered this far more accurate and honest conclusion:
Say what you want to say about the administrative debacle the situation became after Saddam was ousted, but Saturday’s endeavor is a sign of a better Iraq in a region infested with despots and tightly-gripped political systems, where elections, if allowed, are not that different from those held under Saddam – sham, corrupt and pointless. Arab regimes across the Middle East and Arab people around the world who bristled when they saw Saddam toppled, and later executed — and who may still easily shrug off Iraq’s elections as unconstitutional for being held under U.S. military occupation — have a right to know what it means to have a sense of hope. True, Iraq was safe under the Baath regime and walking in Baghdad at any time of the day felt to me even safer than walking in some parts of New York now, but give me any police state in that region or elsewhere that doesn’t enjoy a relative sense of protection.
The left got to take credit for the good times, and blame Bush for the bad ones. On December 15, 2003, Hillary Clinton crowed upon the capture of Saddam Hussein:
“I was one who supported giving President Bush the authority, if necessary, to use force against Saddam Hussein. I believe that that was the right vote.”
Hillary Clinton was for that war before she was against it. And the mainstream media – dishonest, deceitful, and disingenuous itself – allowed Hillary Clinton to be dishonest, deceitful, and disingenuous.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, prior to his declaration of defeat in Iraq, had justified the war in 2002 when “being tough” was politically in vogue. On October 9, 2002 he was on the record saying:
“We stopped the fighting [in 1991] on an agreement that Iraq would take steps to assure the world that it would not engage in further aggression and that it would destroy its weapons of mass destruction. It has refused to take those steps. That refusal constitutes a breach of the armistice which renders it void and justifies resumption of the armed conflict.”
He was not only allowed to be for that war before he was against it by the media, he was allowed to utter outright treason by declaring a war our troops were still fighting “lost.”
Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, said on October 10, 2002:
“I come to this debate, Mr. Speaker, as one at the end of 10 years in office on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, where stopping the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction was one of my top priorities. I applaud the President on focusing on this issue and on taking the lead to disarm Saddam Hussein. … Others have talked about this threat that is posed by Saddam Hussein. Yes, he has chemical weapons, he has biological weapons, he is trying to get nuclear weapons.”
But the mainstream media allowed Nancy Pelosi to get away with the outright moral depravity of attacking President George Bush as a liar when she had publicly held the very same positions herself.
And now we have these same deceitful, dishonest demagogues ignoring the hard-fought accomplishments won under George Bush, and crediting an empty speech as the driving force behind any changes in the Islamic world.
Following the beginnings of the Iranian public demonstrations, even in the aftermath of public statements of condemnation by European leaders, Barack Obama had failed to take a public stand. EVEN FRANCE HAD DISPLAYED MORE COURAGE IN STANDING BEHIND THE IRANIAN PEOPLE THAN OBAMA.
Obama finally provided a weak statement of support for the Iranian people. But it was criticized as being not nearly enough. Finally, he offered a somewhat stronger statement, but only after both the House and the Senate passed strongly-worded resolutions:
Congress voted resoundingly Friday to condemn the Iranian government’s crackdown on protesters, sending a strong bipartisan signal to the White House that it wants less caution and more outrage.
Obama hasn’t been at the forefront of democracy for Iran; he has in fact been the Western and American leader most behind on the issue of supporting true democracy in Iran.
But we’re supposed to believe that it was an empty-worded speech from an empty suit on foreign policy that is rocking the Iranian world?
Don’t believe it for a nanosecond.