• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Selective Engagement in Iran and Honduras

    The Obama Administration ironically recognized the legitimacy of Iran’s thuggish Islamist regime only a few months before the Iranian people renounced its legitimacy in a spontaneous popular backlash against the stolen June elections.This has led to considerable confusion and growing bitterness within Iran’s embattled opposition movement. As the Wall Street Journal has noted, the Iranian protesters who chanted “O ba ma!” (“He with us” in Farsi) in demonstrations against the Ahmadinejad regime last summer, now are chanting, “Obama, Obama—either you’re with them or with us.”

    The courageous Iranians risking their lives to support the “Green Revolution” opposition movement have been increasingly disillusioned by President Obama’s hesitant and half-hearted rhetoric regarding their struggle for democracy and human rights. They fear that Obama, in a rush to sign a flawed deal on Iran’s nuclear program, has turned a deaf ear to their calls for freedom in a misguided effort to appease the regime that oppresses them. They are right to be concerned about the Obama Administration’s myopic policies.

    By seeking to engage the regime unconditionally, Washington has given Iran’s dictatorship ample opportunity to engage in endless negotiations to deflect international pressure, stave off sanctions, buy time to finish building its nuclear weapons and ruthlessly crush the opposition. Tehran already has reneged on its “agreement in principle” to ship much of its enriched uranium out of the country for further processing. An unprincipled regime that arrests, jails, tortures, murders and rapes political dissidents can not be trusted to abide by its own negotiated promises. Moreover, Ahmadinejad continues to insist that Iran will continue to enrich uranium in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions calling for a halt. Yet President Obama prefers to continue to engage this regime, rather than the Iranian people, falling back on the excuse that “We do not interfere in Iran’s affairs.”

    Meanwhile, the Obama Administration conveniently adopts a double standard when it comes to Honduras. By contrast with Iran, in Honduras, the Obama administration has chosen the exact oppostite path of non-intervention in the internal political affairs of another country. The Obama administration’s first instinct when the Honduran constitutional crisis erupted back in June — as President Zelaya tried to engineer an unconstitutional referendum to allow himself to continue in power — was to back his unlawful ambitions and demand his return to Honduras. Meanwhile, the Honduran military and the acting president Robert Michelletti, who sent Zeleya into exile after the country’s supreme court ruled against him, soon felt the force of U.S. disapproval with aid cut-offs and visa denials. The U.S. government also stunningly threatened to dispute the legitimacy of the scheduled November 29 elections, which currently hold the only promise of solving the Honduran political impasse.

    The only consistency in the Obama administration’s position is that it seems instinctively to side with those who are working against the interest of the people of Iran and Honduras, autocratic leaders who want to perpetuate their hold on power. The message this sends to the people of these two countries and of their respective regions is certainly that the United States has undertaken a dramatic change of course in its foreign policy priorities and has abandoned core values, such as the support of democracy. Presumably, President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are satisfied with this message.

    Co-authored by James Phillips.

    Posted in International [slideshow_deploy]

    6 Responses to Selective Engagement in Iran and Honduras

    1. Iran says:

      As an Iranian, I think US government hasn't been in our side, They could have backed Khatami in his time we would have appriciate it! now they are backing Ahmadi nejad , Iranian people ( The would be governing Iran) won't be making good relationship with US if they keep backing anti-government regimes in Iran. I think US must step forward and start a complete ban over Iran's comodities (specially oil) and support the green movment if they really want to make good relationship with Iran in long run.

    2. James, USA says:

      Little known fact about this Honduras thing- the constitutional referendum would have been held AFTER Zelaya left office, and definitely after the elections. So to say that was the motivation for the Cuarta Urna is simply not true.

      So then why did he do it? Hondurans I know think that he wanted to start the process of reforming a very flawed constitution that is written to benefit the wealthy (Michelletti helped write the present Constitution). For example, if the sugar industries have a bad year, it is in the constitution that the government must pay the sugar businesses' debts.

      So to paint Mel as a power-hungry, wannabe dictator is simply not true.

    3. Masood says:

      I am a proud Iranian American. I am so disappointed with President Obama's stand toward Iran. While The Iranian regime is brutally torturing, killing and even raping its opponents, Iranian people are courageously going to the streets and risking their lives to oppose this corrupted and brutal government. Let's not make the same mistake USA made in 1953 by putting shah back in power by a CIA coup. The move was against most Iranian people wishes and now by indirectly supporting the current regime and ignoring the Iranian people call for democracy and human rights USA and Obama's administration are making the same mistake.

    4. George, California says:

      Sanctions do not work. The US has to stop thinking that it can push other countries around with sanctions. The democracy movement in Iran deserves support. But, the support cannot come directly from outside. Thus, the only solution is to drop all this nonsense about Iran building a nuclear bomb (there is no concrete evidence for it) and start engaging the government and businesses in Iran. Iran could be a great market for US passenger planes and other goods. Cultural exchanges should also be encouraged. Only by reducing the paranoia on both sides can an improvement in relations emerge. Otherwise, we'll have another Cuba for 50 more years.

    5. GLENN TEXAS says:


    6. David, Florida USA says:

      Actually, let us be clear. The Honduran referendum would have been held while the would-be dictator was still in office. The legitimacy of such a referedum would also be un-clear. That would be like all the Democrats in Congress telling Obama that he can't change the constitution to stay in power, and him saying; 'yes I can'. the man was told not to do it, he fired the head of the army for refusing to hold the referendum. he continued to move forward with it, was told by the courts he was not aloud, and still was trying until the army; under the direction of their congress, removed him from office.

      Why Obama is not standing with these brave politicians for stopping another dictatorship in our backyard, continues to be a mystery to me. While we are on the subject of interesting motives. I think we need to learn more about the leadership in Brazil.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.