Saturday, March 21, 2009

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Rejects Obama's Video Greeting to Iran, Says No "Change," No Deal

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has rejected President Obama's videotaped overture to the country. President Obama released the message on Nowruz - Iran's new year celebration. In his message, the President stated that:
[I]n this season of new beginnings I would like to speak clearly to Iran's leaders. We have serious differences that have grown over time. My administration is now committed to diplomacy that addresses the full range of issues before us, and to pursuing constructive ties among the United States, Iran and the international community. This process will not be advanced by threats. We seek instead engagement that is honest and grounded in mutual respect.

You, too, have a choice. The United States wants the Islamic Republic of Iran to take its rightful place in the community of nations. You have that right -- but it comes with real responsibilities, and that place cannot be reached through terror or arms, but rather through peaceful actions that demonstrate the true greatness of the Iranian people and civilization. And the measure of that greatness is not the capacity to destroy, it is your demonstrated ability to build and create.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has responded to the video with great skepticism. According to an Associated Press report:
In his most direct assessment of Obama and prospects for better ties, Khamenei said there will be no change between the two countries unless the American president puts an end to U.S. hostility toward Iran and brings "real changes" in foreign policy.

"They chant the slogan of change but no change is seen in practice. We haven't seen any change," Khamenei said in a speech before a crowd of tens of thousands in the northeastern holy city of Mashhad. . . .

"He (Obama) insulted the Islamic Republic of Iran from the first day. If you are right that change has come, where is that change? What is the sign of that change? Make it clear for us what has changed."

Still, Khamenei left the door open to better ties with America, saying "should you change, our behavior will change too."
I cannot say that this surprises me.


Kansas City said...

It is naive for people to think that talking nice to Iran will change its behavior. All countries act in their perceived best interest, but in Iran, it is complicated by a leadership with apparant irrational religious influences. Unfortunately, Iran currently views a nuclear bomb and support of terroristm to be in its self interest.

The hope for Iran is that the Iranian people see the birth of freedom in Iraq, hopefully Afghanistan, and other places and toss out the crackpots now running the country.

We are still paying for Carter's ineptitude in not opposing the takeover of power by Khomeni I realize that is a hindsight assessment, but presidents are viewed with the clarity of hindsight.

I also realize many liberals blame the CIA for the 1953 [?] takeover of power by the Shah of Iran as the purported cause of present problems in Iraq. The merits and morals of our actions in 1953 are debatable, but it did produce an important ally for 25 years of Middle East turmoil and cold war with the Soviet Union. I think the liberals ignore those benefits and make a weak 25 year later argument on causation of the 1978 revolution and, by further extension, the problems of today.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

I agree that nations act out their own self interest - and not kind gestures. I highly doubt that Iranians will desire Iraq's war-mandated "freedom." Finally, certainly you can point the finger at Reagan/Bush for the support the US gave Iraq/Saddam in the extremely deadly 8-year war against Iran.

Do you really think that only "liberals" have made bad policy in the region? That's a bit too partisan, right?

Kansas City said...

Who said anything about only liberals making bad policy in the region?

Iranians do not want the war, only the freedom. I wrote of a hope that the Iranian people would throw out their leaders without war, similar to Eastern Europe.

You seem unwilling to provide any credit to the U.S. for the freedom enjoyed today by Iraqis, the creation of an ally in the region, and the defeat of Al Qaeda in Iraq. It is an odd world where liberals, apparently due to animosity toward President Bush, are unwilling to acknowledge any positives out of his administration or, in this case, out of the war in Iraq (even if you think the war was a mistake).

With a very broad geopolitical view, and an extraordinary high value on the risk of Iranian sponsored terror and on the benefit of freedom in Iran, one could argue for a war on Iran. It, of course, is not politically possible.

I am not very knowledgeable about the Iran/Iraq War. My impression is that evil leadership in two countries brought their people to war and the resulting slaughter, and it ended in a draw. The draw probably was the best result for the rest of the world. I don't think the U.S. caused the war. To the extent we supported Iraq, it was supporting one horrific leader, but if the support helped produce a draw, I suppose one could conclude it was a sound policy.

As to non-liberals making bad policy, Bush I was bad prior to the invasion of Kuwait, great in the first Iraq War, and then bad again in allowing Sadaam to slaughter the Shia.

Aeneas said...

Did anyone really expect anything else? I saw that video. It was the wussiest (not a word, I know, but you get the picture) piece of cinema I've seen in a long time. THAT is not respected in the Middle East. If I put myself in the Iranian frame of mind (mind bending, I know...) I would just do a knee slapping laugh.

My God, who advises this President? Or is this just stubborn, pig headed personal inability to admit that may be diplomacy with Iran is not the answer? Not a very secure man, if this is the case.

Kansas City said...

I just watched the video> It is a little frightening to think that Obama and his expert advisors sit around and conclude this is the path to follow. Patronizing to the people of Iran and patheticaly amusing to their leadership.

The only rational explanation is that it was designed for Obama's fawning domestic supporters, so people like Ezra Klein and Andrew Sullivan can drool over it and him.

dualdiagnosis said...

Quite telling that the left thinks that sitting down and talking can solve these problems and get people to come together to work things out nicely when it comes to dictatorial despots, suicidal terrorists and murderous regimes, but when it comes to the American people and their elected leaders on the right, only ramrodding legislation and cutting off debate is considered appropriate.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Dd - I am not sure that is "the Left." That is Obama's administration. Just as you guys warn us not to equate Bush with conservatism, I would say the same thing about Obama and progressive politics. Ultimately, most politicians only use ideology to their advantage. I am not saying that they lack ideological commitments, but they will bend away from and betray their ideolgy if it helps them win.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

KC- criticizing Bush does not mean: " It is an odd world where liberals, apparently due to animosity toward President Bush, are unwilling to acknowledge any positives out of his administration or, in this case, out of the war in Iraq (even if you think the war was a mistake)."

I opposed the war; it did not matter whether Bush, Clinton, or Obama started it.

As for why I think you are partisan - well, you have disproved it.

Kansas City said...

You can have opposed the war and still recognize the good things that have happened as the result of the war, even if you do not think those good things justify the war.

What is the difference between a liberal and a progressive. When policians (like Obama) describe themselves as progressives, it almost always is just a dodge to get away from the liberal label. For non-politicians, is there a meaningful distinction?

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

I have nothing to hide. Also, I am not sure Obama has ever described himself as a progressive or liberal.

I usually think of "progressive" as someone who is more into the political philosophy and realization of concrete change around "liberal" ideals, like individual autonomy, social equality, equal opportunity, etc. I usually think of liberals as being more committed to symbolic liberal causes like supporting same-sex marriage, diversity, etc. Beyond things like "formal equality," their support diminishes.

I see liberals as partisans, who are highly committed to the Democratic Party. Because I am driven by ideals, rather than party, I can criticize Democrats and embrace Republicans depending on the issue.

I guess this is similar to moderate and far-right conservatives. The rightwing really wants to change society (in a direction I oppose), while moderate Republicans are fairly close to the centrist Democrats - even if they hate the "liberal" label.

Honestly, I think that the stigmatization of "liberal" is pretty immature. One word does not capture the complexity of ideology. I am not a "conservative," but I do not equate the word with evil. Often, people toss around the word "liberal" in order to disparage and sterotype others during debates (e.g., "You liberals always...."). This me because I am proud of my intellectual independence. Being a progressive or liberal does not mean that I am dogmatic. I am a professor. The only way I can get students to open up in class is to respect all points of view. I never criticize students based on ideology.

Kansas City said...

Thanks for the interesting explanation of how you distinguish between liberal and progressive. I do not think it reflects much of a meaningful difference.

It is interesting in that you do not reference the size and role of government, which probably is the clearest distinction between liberals and conservatives.

I also have noticed admitted liberals being any different in terms of partisanship than self styled progressives.

Your point that progressives seek change around liberal ideals, to me, confirms the basic proposition that progressives are liberals, and there is no doubt that liberals describe themselves as progressives for pr purposes.

I'm sure you did not intend it, but some of your characterizations are condescending to moderates and republicans. You say moderate republicans "hate the liberal label," "stigmatization of liberal is pretty immature," and suggest others equate liberal with evil.

I do think it is good that you respect all points of student views, but it is disheatening to realize that in today's academia, that is not the case for all professors and you can legitimately claim it as a virtue.

Kansas City said...

I meant that I have NOT noticed admitted liberals being any different in terms of partisanship than self stlyled progressives.

FLRN said...

"wussiest" ~ Aeneas I do not have any free time to comment today - except to say I am going to use this term from hereout! I think you say it all!

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