Obama turned his back on a million protesters in the streets of Tehran, with bizarre promises not to “meddle,” coupled with vague apologies about American behavior more than a half-century ago. A golden opportunity to help topple a vicious anti-American theocracy was turned into a buffoonish effort to appear multiculturally sensitive. ~Victor Davis Hanson
Greg Scoblete rejects this:
Er, no. What does “multicultural sensitivity” have to do with it? President Obama kept mum because he thought interjecting the U.S. into Iran’s uprising would do more harm than good. You can agree or disagree with that reasoning – but it was the reasoning. “Multicultural sensitivity” had nothing to do with it.
Greg is correct. This “multicultural” charge has been a stand-by of Hanson’s columns for the better part of the last two years. It seems to be based on nothing more than the desire to describe Obama’s decisions on Iran as misguided, and so he attaches a label that refers to something he dislikes. There are perfectly good reasons to be critical of multiculturalism, but multiculturalism is something that is primarily a domestic phenomenon that relates to how many Americans believe we should be interpreting American history, defining national identity, and relating to new immigrants and minority groups. It shouldn’t be made into a catch-all term to refer to whatever one happens to find objectionable. What Hanson mistakenly refers to here as “multicultural sensitivity” is what the rest of us would call diplomatic use of language and an awareness of Iranian sensitivity to the perception of foreign interference in their political life. What Hanson would like to claim is that Obama is a cultural relativist, but this simply isn’t the case. If I never hear Obama use the phrase “universal rights” again, it will be too soon.
Hanson’s claim gets something else important very wrong. There was no “golden opportunity” to topple the Iranian government. Had Obama said or done anything more in support of the Green Movement, that wouldn’t have ensured the success of the Green Movement, and it certainly wouldn’t have toppled the Iranian government. It isn’t just that Hanson laces what might otherwise be a legitimate criticism of Obama foreign policy with tendentious nonsense, but he conjures up pure fantasies about what is happening in the world and what the administration is doing in response. If you are convinced that the Iranian government was on the verge of being overthrown in the summer of 2009, and you are confident that the U.S. could have effectively tipped the balance in favor of the supposed revolutionaries, Obama’s muted response must be baffling, but that is because you are inhabiting an alternate reality that has nothing to do with the way things are.