In the weeks leading up to the Iranian elections, we heard a lot of talk about the thriving democracy in Iran, and yesterday, even Obama got into the act. “We are excited to see what appears to be a robust debate taking place in Iran,” Obama said. He continued, “Ultimately the election is for the Iranians to decide,” adding: “Whoever ends up winning the election in Iran, the fact that there’s been a robust debate hopefully will help advance our ability to engage them in new ways.”
The fantasy among Obamaists was that the administration’s peaceful overtures — in contrast to Bush’s bellicose rhetoric — had bolstered a “reformist” candidate and would usher in an era of moderation. But given the outcome in Iran, this overreach by the left now puts them in a pickle. Now that their “reformist” was defeated in an election widely viewed as rigged, and at the moment we’re looking at a harsh government crackdown on demonstrators protesting the result, how does the Obama left now argue that this is a regime we need to engage with “mutal respect”? By raising the expectations in the runup to this election, the actual results cast an even brighter light on the brutality and undemocratic nature of this oppressive regime. The idea that we can get the regime to moderate its behavior by extending a hand of friendship now looks even more naive than it did a week ago.