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Selective Engagement in Iran and Honduras

Posted By Helle Dale On November 6, 2009 @ 11:10 am In International | Comments Disabled

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 [1] 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.


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URL to article: http://blog.heritage.org/2009/11/06/selective-engagement-in-iran-and-honduras/

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[1] Wall Street Journal: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704013004574515430750909534.html?mod=djemEditorialPage

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