Saturday, June 20, 2009

Obama Must Speak Out on Iran

With Iran suffering a political earthquake, allow me to put in a good word for meddling.

I realize there will always be those Americans who recoil at the idea of U.S. military intervention or economic sanctions -- or, for that matter, even just tersely worded statements from the White House -- because, they insist, the United States should not interfere with the domestic affairs of other countries.

Since when? The United States has, for decades, interfered with the destinies of other nations - in Asia, Africa, Latin America and elsewhere.

In fact, just recently, President Obama took to interfering in the Middle East by scolding Israel for its treatment of Palestinians and its settlements in the West Bank.

Yet now, in a real disappointment to anyone who values freedom, Obama has declared his reluctance to "meddle" in the aftermath of the disputed Iranian presidential election even as hundreds of thousands of protesters put themselves at risk on the streets of Tehran.

Sometimes, the only correct course of action is to meddle. Here you have the brutal repression of political dissent, the suppression of free speech and the beating and gunning down of dissidents. College students are reportedly being beaten in their dormitories by government thugs and threatened with worse if they don't stop protesting.

In the street, armed police officers wail on old ladies and teenagers with clubs, as demonstrators carry unconscious comrades bleeding from head wounds. And -- in what served as my wake-up call -- the government shut down foreign media coverage by revoking the press credentials of foreign correspondents and restricting them to their hotels.

That was an ominous sign of what may be coming. With the curtain drawn, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad must think he can crush his opponents once and for all and the world will be none the wiser.

Luckily for the cause of freedom, the tyrant wasn't prepared for Twitter and other social network tools that protesters are using to get the word out about what they're experiencing. Many demonstrators are also using their own video cell phones to get images out of Iran.

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