On Iran, Obama is Acting Like Bush - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
On Iran, Obama is Acting Like Bush

There’s been a lot of debate over what the proper response by the Obama administration should be to the events in Iran. One side believes that President Obama should make a statement in solidarity with the protesters, while others argue that doing so would backfire by allowing the Iranian regime to portray the opposition as a tool of the United States. I see this as a bit of a “false choice,” to use an Obamaism. I don’t see why Obama can’t forcefully condemn the brutality of the crackdown on protesters without explicitly endorsing Mousavi or the protests themselves.

But even if there is a case to be made for America butting out of developments in Iran as events unfold, it’s hard to make a convincing case that if the dust settles with the current regime intact, protests put down, that America should still pursue engagement. Practically speaking, the Iranian regime has only become more hawkish and defiant, so there’s no plausible reason to think that negotiations can accomplish anything. But beyond that, engagement would implicitly acknowledge the election as legitimate, and America would be siding with a totalitarian regime over the Iranian people.

And that brings me to my headline. While it goes without saying that President Bush, at least in his first term, approached foreign policy a lot differently than Obama, our new president is rivaling our old one when it comes to stubbornness. One of the biggest criticisms of President Bush was that he was unwilling to ever admit that he was wrong, and that he was reluctant to change his policies, no matter how strong the evidence that they weren’t working. Most prominently, for years he fought efforts to increase the number of troops in Iraq, and it wasn’t until nearly four years into the war, when Republicans had lost control of Congress, that he finally initiated the surge strategy. As Vice President Biden said on “Meet the Press” this Sunday, “Look, the decision has been made to talk.” As if, once the decision has been made, it can’t be reversed, even if the facts on the ground change significantly.

Perhaps Obama is just waiting to see how things develop before he decides for sure whether he’ll pursue engagement, and maybe if the current Iranian regime survives, the president will ultimately buckle under political pressure and shelve his call for talks. But if the ongoing events in Iran do not make him rethink his strategy in dealing with the oppressive government, then he will be no different then Bush in allowing a blind commitment to ideology prevent him from admitting he was wrong and changing course.

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