Steve Hayes of the Weekly Standard calls for President Obama to make “a statement–or even a short speech” to inspire the protests in Iran. Such a statement would be “forceful,” he says.
Hayes does not pause to consider why a speech from President Obama might be valuable to some dissidents around the world, whereas a speech by President George W. Bush would be the last thing any Iranian wanted. It’s precisely because Obama has eschewed the reckless, Manichean worldview espoused by President Bush and Vice-President Cheney (Hayes’ hagiographical subject) that the current president has any credibility to speak on world affairs in the first place. The last thing Obama should do is blindly encourage the Iranian protestors to overthrow their government. If the US isn’t prepared to back up the protesters’ grievances with forces–and nobody in their right mind argues we should–we’d only be giving them false hopes of support. Think of the anti-Soviet revolt in Hungary in 1956, or Iraqi Shiites turning on Saddam Hussein in 1991. Promising nothing is better than offering promises we can’t fulfill. President Obama hopefully gets that, even if Hayes doesn’t.