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Iran: Their Existential Challenges - And Ours

As things head for a lull - and possibly an outright defeat - in Iran, WSJ online has a good piece about a gentleman named Mohsen Kadivar:

"Mr. Kadivar's chief claim to fame rests on a three-part work of political philosophy titled "The Theories of the State in Shiite Jurisprudence." At heart, it is a devastating theological critique of the Ayatollah Khomeini's notion of "the rule of the jurist" (Velayat e Faqih), which serves as the rationale for the near-dictatorial powers enjoyed by the Supreme Leader."

That kind of argument on the regime's own terms is useful and valuable. Ultimately, the defeat of Khomeinism is going to require an ideological shattering, as well as a physical shattering. Religious critique from within is a vital part of that, though certainly not exclusive. The decision that ordinary Iranians have taken are also part of it - and on Jack Wheeler's site, he carries a piece by an Iranian philosophy professor in Tehran:

"That is how I can describe the most people who came out to attend the demonstration today [June 20]. After the fierce speech [by Ayatollah Khamenei] at the Friday prayers, we knew that today we would be treated differently. We felt so vulnerable, more than ever, but at the same time were aware of our power, which, no matter how influential it is collectively, would have done little to protect us today.

We could only take our bones and flesh to the streets and expose them to batons and bullets. Two different feelings fight inside you without mixing with one another. To live or to just be alive, that's the question."

Emphasis mine. For that is the question. For all of us. All the time. Events in Iran have made it clearer that this is the question, and raised its existential priority for people. That will have long term consequences.

In the short term, however, it looks like the regime has likely won. No thanks to America, whose craven leadership, despite recent staged press conference shows to deflect deserved criticism, has consistently been lukewarm in its support for the protests. And consistently behind other western countries, including France. Not to mention the Congress and Senate, who eventually forced the President's hand. Thank you, Sen. McCain. Among others.

That kind of diplomatic voting "present" hasn't been an accident, or a slip - but a considered and consistent position. Joshua Murchavik, in "The Abandonment of Democracy:

"While it is hard to see any diplomatic benefit in soft-pedaling human rights in Burma and Sudan, neither has Obama anything to gain politically by easing up on regimes that are reviled by Americans from Left to Right. Even so ardent an admirer of the President as columnist E. J. Dionne, the first to discern an "Obama Doctrine" in foreign policy, confesses to "qualms" about "the relatively short shrift" this doctrine "has so far given to concerns over human rights and democracy."

Whether or not there is something as distinct and important as to warrant the label "doctrine," the consistency with which the new administration has left aside democracy and human rights suggests this is an approach the president has thought through...."

In its reluctance to criticize the Iranian regime, and eagerness to negotiate with it and lend it legitimacy even as the blood of protesters flows in Iran's streets, it has abandoned the very people America should be supporting on all levels. It has also abandoned Iran's various ethnicities, many of whom chafe under the heel of a mini empire - and, as Al Giordano points out, are even mobilizing in some cases (Kurds) against the regime. As Obama seeks to extend his hand to the mullahs, Eastern European history strongly suggests that he will strengthen them, and help to demoralize their opposition.

There will be a price to be paid for this approach and its failure, down the road. Possibly sooner than we like to think.

But then, that's the real theme, and eventual tagline, for Barrack Obama's entire presidency. And so, for America. As that bill comes due, on multiple levels, remember the words of an Iranian philosophy professor.


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