March 21, 2009

"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.''

"Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei dismissed overtures from President Barak Obama...."

Preliminary observation: Yikes. The New York Times is misspelling the President's name in the first sentence of a lead news story. Is doom near?

Primary observation: Obama charmed us American's with his hopey-changey rhetoric. He even made (some of) us think that he would transform world politics by talking the right way. Like this:



But — it's no surprise — they aren't buying it:
In his most direct assessment of Obama and prospects for improved 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 asked how Obama could congratulate Iranians on the new year and accuse the country of supporting terrorism and seeking nuclear weapons in the same message.

''As long as the U.S. government continues the same policies and directions of the previous 30 years, we will be the same nation of the past 30 years,'' Khamenei said. ''The Iranian nation can't be deceived or threatened.''
Of course not. And it was silly ever to think that it could.

41 comments:

Anonymous Blogger said...

The notion that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon because of American foreign policy toward Iran is ridiculous.

Mark Percich said...

Did the fans of the Messiah really believe that a hard-core regime like Iran would be swayed by mere words. I am sure that the mullahs view Obama and this silly diplomacy with contempt. (Maybe we should convince the mullahs to listen to NPR or read the NY Times to find out how really valuable this symbolism is.)

Thank God we only have 46 more months before we can put adults back in charge of our nation.

Lyle said...

If I was President, I'd say the exact same thing. Half of Iran wants to hear exactly what he's saying... but he better also be carrying a big stick.

Sissy Willis said...

How eerie to find oneself agreeing with Khamenei:

''They chant the slogan of change but no change is seen in practice. We haven't seen any change."

mrs whatsit said...

I saw that same misspelling -- Barak instead of Barack -- in the Washington Post this morning.

Oh, I see why: it's the same story, lifted from the AP wire. Guess both papers ran the story without reading it first.

As for the naivete of believing we could make them be nice to us by being nice to them, I wonder if Obama has any idea how much "face" he has lost in this exchange. First he steps into the weaker, submissive side of the dynamic by "asking" to talk -- and then, predictably, the other side grabs even more dominance by rejecting him. I can't help but wonder what he thought was going to happen. Silly, indeed -- but having to apply such a word to our Commander in Chief is chilling.

traditionalguy said...

What's special is that this stand up to Obama is news because an Iranian leader says what is never reported in the NYT when a Republican leader says it. Obama's "Trust me because I can smile" is not really a foreign policy, unless there is a world election in progress. When does the world vote, and more importantly who counts the ballots?Is it those same people who smile at us and tell us that the colder weather accelerating since the year 2000 is proof of the Great Global Warming Crisis?

The Drill SGT said...

I think it can best be described with one frightening word:

Naive: deficient in worldly wisdom or informed judgment

tjl said...

I think it can best be described with one frightening word: Naive: deficient in worldly wisdom or informed judgment.
Who would have thought that O's basic shallowness would be so evident this early in his administration? It's ironic that it had to be the Mullahs rather than the MSM to point this out.

Curtiss said...

This isn't the smart power diplomacy I thought I knew.

Michael Hasenstab said...

A foreign policy that is largely "Hey, I'm not George Bush, so let's bury the hatchet, okay?" coupled with the obvious ineptitude of the Obama administration is not going to sway anyone, especially countries that respond only to power and strength.

Notice how the Russians didn't toy with placing bombers in Cuba and Venezuela until just after Obama sent that pathetic letter "let's be buddies" letter to Putin?

bearbee said...

Primary observation: Obama charmed us American's...

Primary observation: Obama charmed (some of) us American's...

Iran will pursue goals it deems in its best self-interests.

The various diplomatic strategies pursued by the Bush Administration in North Korea produced nothing.

AllenS said...

Barak should stick to talk shows. Leave the diplomacy to adults.

peter hoh said...

Carry the big stick is one of the most important rules in statecraft. Equally important: using it wisely.

I didn't expect the public statements from Iran's leaders to change, and anyone who did is a fool. The potential is that Obama can help sway the public opinion in countries like Iran by not talking about the war on terror with words like "crusade." Granted, shifting public opinion in a country ruled by despots is slow to reap rewards.

Obama's rhetoric may make it more difficult for the Iranian leadership to demonize America. That's a good thing, but it's not enough. Therefore the "Carry the big stick" rule still applies.

But no matter the size of the stick, it may be impractical to prevent Iran from obtaining some nuclear weapons.

Freeman Hunt said...

A toast with the morning coffee:

Here's to hoping the world doesn't fall apart before the adults are back in charge of the United States.

Issob Morocco said...

Don't underestimate the teleprompter's guile with this message. He is always looking over the horizon for the One.

The Drill SGT said...

"Great nations do not have friends, they have interests."

Kissinger

Why is it that some Presidents forget this?

chickenlittle said...

Primary observation: Obama charmed us American's with his hopey-changey rhetoric.

Secondary observation: My mother was charmed by JFK, but she didn't vote for him.

The Drill SGT said...

Peter said...But no matter the size of the stick, it may be impractical to prevent Iran from obtaining some nuclear weapons.

I was with you till the last part.

The problem with the sweet talk is that the leadership of Iran just wants to stall and run out the clock. In this, they look better than the Harlem Globe Trotters. Once they have the big stick, that will re-solidify their internal base around the concept of a reinvigorated Persian Empire, able to teach those swarmy Ayrabs and Juuus some lessons.

At this point, only the big stick or at least the threat of a big stick is the only thing that could convince Iran to give up the bomb,

Obama seems to be walking away from another campaign promise:

Iran having the bomb is unacceptable.

EDH said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
EDH said...

The idea of talking over the regime to the Iranian people is worthy. But it's not clear that BHO deserves credit for moving US policy in that direction.

Over at the Dish, Andrew Sullivan declares A new tack for the US - and a much smarter one, and notes somebody is reportedly thrilled.

Matt Steinglass found Obama's video chat somewhat patronizing (as did I, but I don't know how Iranians will take it) while Ezra gushes:

"There are times when it's hard to believe that this is how my country acts now. That somewhere in government, some young bureaucrat had the idea that the President should publicly honor the Iranian New Year, and that bureaucrat felt that her superiors would also think this a good idea, and, indeed, the thought went all the way to the President, who agreed that a display of engagement and goodwill was consonant with our national values and foreign policy goals. It is hard to believe that five years after we were ordering "freedom fries" in the congressional cafeteria, we're posting Persian translations at Whitehouse.gov."


All hopey, changey great new "ideas" from Team Obama, except, woops, this:

03/20/08
Text of President Bush's Message on Nowruz and Interview with VOA Persian Service


I send greetings to those celebrating Nowruz.

For the millions of people who trace their heritage to Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey, Pakistan, India, and Central Asia, Nowruz is a time to celebrate the New Year with the arrival of spring. This cherished and ancient festival brings together family and friends to reflect on what has come before and celebrate a season of new beginnings.

Our country is proud to be a land where individuals from many different cultures can pass their traditions on to future generations. The diversity of America brings joy to our citizens and strengthens our Nation during Nowruz and throughout the year.

Laura and I send our best wishes to all those celebrating Nowruz, both here in the United States and abroad. May the year ahead be filled with peace and many blessings.

GEORGE W. BUSH

Zachary Paul Sire said...

Primary observation: Obama charmed us American's with...

Preliminary observation: Yikes. There should be no possessive apostrophe on "Americans."

;)

Quayle said...

Foreign policy run by people that believe that all international disagreements are mere misunderstandings, and all domestic political opponents are evil to the core.

The complete finished philosophical product of America’s viciously narrow-minded academies.

Kansas City said...

Ann correctly describes this approach as silly. But Obama said all kinds of stuff like this during the campaign. It also was silly then. So, why did Ann not call him out then?

Let's just hope four years passes quickly without Obama making any huge mistakes that cause any large loss of lives.

Big Mike said...

I'm minded of an exchange that I saw on TV political exchange show during the Carter years. One of the liberal commentators was remarking that the Carter administration "didn't know its own mind." The token conservative -- maybe it was George F. Will? -- jumped on that immediately. The administration did know their own minds, he insisted, but what they didn't know was their adversaries' minds.

Now we're in the same situation -- Barack Obama understands how he would respond to his message if he were the leader of Iran, but he's not and he wouldn't be. He needs to understand their culture, their political structure, and the entire gestalt in which the Iranian leadership operates. There are people who understand all this in the State Department and in the "3 letter agencies" (or so I fervently hope) but Obama doesn't know who they are and at this stage of his presidency probably wouldn't listen to them if he did. ("Old politics," you know.)

Kirk Parker said...

Althouse,

"Of course not. And it was silly ever to think that it could."

Maybe it's just Obama doing his own self-contained good cop/bad cop routine: "You see, we tried the kinder, gentler approach first and were rebuffed..."

OK, that's my Hope'n'change for this morning (disclaimer: I'm not saying it's realistic.)

Freeman,

Coffee and toast for breakfast? What are you, French or something???

EDH,

Great catch!

madawaskan said...

Lyle-

If I was President, I'd say the exact same thing. Half of Iran wants to hear exactly what he's saying... but he better also be carrying a big stick.

Well unfortunately the state of the economy the Trillion dollar stimulus, and the ANOTHER Trillion dollar buy back of their own US Treasuries by US dollars starting this Monday-all before the Defense Budget even gets a foot hold in the House tells anybody with a clue stick-that he can't be carrying a-

Big Stick.

Obama has run around saying that the economy is close to going as bad as The Great Depression in order to get his Democrats in Perpetuity Bill and other assorted sundry items passed.

You are watching the most rapid demise of a Super Power in history.

It's akin really to a guy saying that he has prostrate cancer-America has been rendered almost that suddenly impotent.

Sorry but the combination of our economic viability and global economic stability-is a one two knock out.

A deadly combination.

And this has been a trend with the Democratic party over and over again.

Spend money on butter and the great softening of America-like millions of dollars to "counsel" people about how they can get more money from the federal government and then-ignore Defense.

Defense spending that actually would do more to start jobs up rather than the counseling crap and would actually be a "hard" asset.

The tragedy being that Democrats once they are in power-insure that they are in power for decades with utter ruthlessness.

They shore up their base by throwing money at them-taxes will be for less than 30% of the country-meanwhile they ignore Defense spending.

Then what happens?

Almost always some unseen, unprepared for event happens and we throw bodies into a war without the necessary technological advances.

Bodies always being cheaper-those are thrown into the gap until the US economy can be switched over to "catch up" with the supposedly unforeseen events.

Really gross-Democrats do wars of attrition-so much "better". [sarc]

somefeller said...

Freeman Hunt says: Here's to hoping the world doesn't fall apart before the adults are back in charge of the United States.

The phrase "back in charge" implies that "the adults" were recently in charge of the United States. Given the performance of the prior Administration, it is laughable to claim that the adults were in charge at that time. Or were you referring to the Clinton Administration?

The audience for this speech wasn't the mullahs, it was the Iranian masses, most of whom are under 30. Of course the mullahs will condemn the speech. The goal is to reach the average Iranian, and perhaps change some hearts and minds there, so the future of Iran looks more like the fall of the Soviet Union than some of the other alternatives. (Note - even when that regime fell, the Russians didn't stop wanting Russia to be strong and they didn't hand over their nuclear weapons. Nations seek their own power and self-interest, regardless of regime, and it's silly to assume Iran will do otherwise.)

From Inwood said...

The misspelling was Freudian because the NYT's robotic anti neo-con & anti "Israel Lobby" people were thinking of the Israeli Defense Minister & former PM!

PS No comment from Cedarford on this?

Joe M. said...

This isn't so bad, as long as it's only the first move, followed by something substantial.

I don't have much confidence in that happening, but I suppose this was a proper opening.

Synova said...

Barack Obama understands how he would respond to his message if he were the leader of Iran, but he's not and he wouldn't be.

Why is it that those of us who claim to be more worldly-wise, more sophisticated, more multi-cultural, seem to miss cultural dynamics that are so obviously present? Of course the response will be "See this! Watch as we make the American president dance to our tune, react to our actions, take his proper subservient place." What else can it be? I actually have a measure of sympathy for Iran in this world... wanting to be treated like grown ups and trusted with the sharp scissors...

Yet, I'm not surprised that the "smart" ones among us seem not to "get" all this... they don't "get" half the people in their own country, after all.

MaliciousSquid said...

Silly to think it ever could deceive or threaten Iran? Yes. But it still might have gone over a little bit better had Obama not chosen a pre-Islamic, pagan holiday to address the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran....

Kirk Parker said...

Synova, you don't really "get" the part of the country that, not satisfied with just voting for Obama, is actually all ga-ga about him? About a politician????? I freely admit I don't understand such people.

The Drill SGT said...

madawaskan said... Defense spending that actually would do more to start jobs up rather than the counseling crap and would actually be a "hard" asset.

I was struck as well that the stimulus packge had no money for dfense beyond some weather stripping on DoD buildings. After all, a couple of extra billions on F22's would truly be an investment for 30 years and beyond Federal employees, there is no more unionized sector in the country than defense manufacturing.

Joe said...

This is but one more evidence of the fundamental failure of liberal thinking--that talking will solve problems and being liked is an important component of power. Power isn't simply negotiation and/or compromise and has nothing to do with being liked; it is the threat of credible force to produce a desirable outcome. Liberals hate this and repeatedly demonstrate why they're wrong.

In this regard, Obama doomed his administration from day one. His failure to veto the so-called stimulus package and force changes demonstrated to Congress and the world that the man had no idea how to wield power. He reinforced this with the budget bill and with his growing errors with foreign policy. It is now only a matter of time before a significant foreign power engages in militarily aggressive action to test Obama. Like most liberals, he will completely overreact in the wrong areas and complete under react in the right areas. This will have serious negative repercussions for decades.

Synova said...

I think I understand why people like Obama and think he's wonderful. He fits their world view. Someone elsewhere said "more money never hurts" as the answer to a political question. Is it hard to understand that view? I can imagine a variety of way that more money might actually "hurt" a cause, but I don't think that the statement itself was illogical or evil or hateful. People believe that foreign policy involves being "friends" and that our good will matters. It would be nice if that were true.

But enough people refuse to understand just how influential Protestant Christianity is in our culture and think that certain of our expectations are shared across cultures. If our *own* culture is a mystery, how are other cultures understood?

On two fronts... firstly... who better to understand religious true believers than our own true believers? Secondly, we accept deliberate humility as the highest virtue and they reject, utterly, deliberate humility in any form.

Explain to me an honor killing. Explain a culture where (and this is not at all unusual in the world, nor limited to Islam) a strong man is unable to accept public shame in order to protect those in his care. Explain how his own failure to nurture and protect has to be transmuted into blame, even in the case of rape, because it is too unthinkable to admit public weakness or public failure.

It's easy to understand, then, that Saddam could not have allowed himself to appear to cooperate, because he'd not be able to retain rule if he lost face. It's easy to understand Iran's various posturings to prove to Iranian people that Iran is the one positioned to call the shots, that Britain is helpless in the face of captured sailors, that the US can be called to task, our President scolded, and our visiting film-makers used as propaganda props, arriving hat in hand, to provide a foil for yet another scolding and yet another list of demands.

madawaskan said...

Drill SGT-

Oh man...

The F-22.

Anyways the beauty of that thing.

At Nellis Red Flags that thing has only been defeated by one thing-

pilot error.

blake said...

Well, I think the new President has made it clear that the Iranians can do just about whatever they want without fear of reprisal.

That's change.

Quayle said...

On two fronts... firstly... who better to understand religious true believers than our own true believers?

How ironic that Mitt Romney's Mormonism (i.e. polygamist history and strict tenants of personal behavior and duty to God) may have made him more approachable to the Islamic nations than any of the tolerant, open, multi-cultural lefty candidates that flatter themselves as bridge builders.

What’s less, a whole lot of Mormons that were missionaries for two years in the neighborhoods of foreign countries know very well that US format DVDs don’t work everywhere in the world.

But why let facts get in the left’s way of thinking that they alone are the broadminded universalists and conservatives are the myopic, provincialists.

Bart DePalma said...

Ann:

Care to set up a poll for us to predict during which year of the Obama Administration the Iranians set off their first nuclear weapon?

With any luck, the Iranians will not be inspired by Mr. Obama's imitation of Jimmy Carter to kidnap another group of American diplomats and Marines.

Synova said...

How ironic that Mitt Romney's Mormonism (i.e. polygamist history and strict tenants of personal behavior and duty to God) may have made him more approachable to the Islamic nations than any of the tolerant, open, multi-cultural lefty candidates that flatter themselves as bridge builders.

It is a point.

And as much as I like Palin, I think that we're all sorry over Romney at this point.

John Lynch said...

It's revealing that the leaders of Iran, not known as being a rational, reality-based bunch, are demanding actual results while our country demands only rhetoric.

I don't mind talking to Iran without any conditions. Most likely it will just prove how pointless it is, and convince a few liberals that the Iranian government really is an enemy. Maybe humiliating the President enough times will make his supporters angry enough to catch on. Any damage to the President's reputation is far cheaper than lives lost to Iranian ambition.