[Guardian Unlimited, U.K.]



Novosti, Russia

Why Medvedev Can Meet Ahmadinejad - But Obama Cannot


"The 'moral clarity' of any given moment could prove a dangerous thing, not only for Obama and the United States, but for the entire world. … For many years, we Russians have tried not try to preach to others or impose morality, so we have no problem with our image when choosing partners for negotiations."


By Dmitriy Babich


Translated By Yekaterina Blinova


June 19, 2009


Russia - Novosti - Original Article (Russian)

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: Escaping the turmoil in his own country at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Russia, Ahmadinejad lashed out at the West in general and the U.S. in particular, saying that the 'age of empire' is over.


BBC NEWS VIDEO: Ahmadinejad attends Shanghai Cooperation Organization and lashes out at the U.S. and the West, June 16, 00:01:17RealVideo

American President Barack Obama has a new problem: Congressmen and journalists have criticized him for an overly “soft” response to the suppression of opposition protests in Iran. Indeed, Obama’s statement that he “respects the decision of the Iranian people,” made at the very moment that the “guardians of the Islamic revolution” were dispersing student demonstrators, sounded like a sign of weakness to the ears of many Americans.


For thirty years, the citizens of the United States were told that the clerical regime in Iran was an almost absolute evil, and that its overthrow was one of the main goals of American foreign policy. In the spring of this year, Obama deviated from his old line, arguing that that United States will not seek regime change in Iran and apologizing for the events of 1953, when thanks to a coup organized with the help of the CIA, then Prime Minister Mohammed Mossaddeq was overthrown. If Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had won an easy and indisputable victory in the June 12 election, Obama’s position would appear more logical: the regime may be anti-democratic, but it's also here to stay, which means that one must deal with a partner as unpleasant as Ahmadinejad, trying not to annoy him with minutiae [like human rights]. But events have unfolded quite differently.



The problem is that Iran, a very self-contradictory state, doesn't fit into Procrustes' bed of America's traditional division of countries into those that are democratic and anti-democratic.


[Editor's Note: In Greek mythology, Procrustes, a son of Poseidon, had a bed in which he invited every passer-by to spend the night, claiming it was a magic bed that would be the perfect size for anyone who slept in it. If the guest proved too tall, Procrustes would amputate the excess length; victims who were too short were stretched on the rack until they were long enough.]


Yes, the leading authority in the country is its spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khomeini. He defines the general direction of foreign policy and has the power to veto “non-Islamic” steps toward secular government. But it also has a democratically-elected president who is responsible for economic affairs, social assistance and education. The majority of the population consists of observing Muslims and the Islamic essence of the state isn't questioned by most voters, particularly rural ones. But at the same time, the 30-year-rule of the mullahs is cause for irritation to many, and the urban population gravitates heavily toward Western standards of consumption, imported technology and mass culture.


This is a string of contradictions that is understandable to a former citizen of the Soviet Union (we, too, lived in a country with a seemingly concrete foreign policy ideology that was no longer taken seriously by its own citizens because of a fatigue with the hardships of everyday life). But to Americans, these paradoxes are puzzling. And if Americans swallowed Obama’s apology for the events of 1953 (future-oriented Americans repent of their sins much more easily than we do), it is his incapacity to support the aspirations of Iranians for democracy, even verbally, that baffles many. This bewilderment was best expressed by Republican Congressman Eric Cantor: “Obama’s posture has been very equivocal, without a clear message … Now is the time for us to show our support for the Iranian people. I would like to see a strong statement from him that has moral clarity.”


  'Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Packs Up His Troubles'

[Guardian Unlimited,U.K.]


But the trouble is that the “moral clarity” of any given moment could prove a dangerous thing, not only for Obama and the United States, but for the entire world. Iran has come very close to creating nuclear weapons. Its goal, says The New York Times, is “to show that with only a few turns of the screw it can turn its civilian nuclear program into a military one. [translated quote]." Talking with such a regime based on morality alone is difficult and dangerous.


Evidently, Obama is trying to convince himself that he's right by not speaking out, knight-like, in defense of democracy. In a recent New York Times/CNBC interview, he said that “either way, we were going to be dealing with an Iranian regime that has historically been hostile to the United States, that has caused some problems in the neighborhood and is pursuing nuclear weapons.”  




And this was already a mistake. It turns out that the United States supports the choice of the people - if and only if the candidate they favor is one of America's allies. Opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi is not, evidently, one of these people.


Having served as prime minister under Ayatollah Khomeini during the 1980s and a patriarch of the Iranian nuclear program, he clearly doesn't measure up as a “hero” in the molds of Yushchenko [Ukrainian prime minister] or Saakhashvili [Georgia president]. But does that mean that he doesn't embody the hopes and desires of a significant part of the Iranian people today? Of course not. To his supporters, he embodies the very “measured Islam” that they seek in vain from the mullahs. But the United States refuses to support him, having found itself unprepared for a new revolution, just as they were unprepared for the Islamic revolution of 1979.


Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, right, welcomes Iranian President

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in Russia to attend the summit of the Shanghai

Cooperation Organization - a grouping formed by China and Russia as a

counterpoint to NATO. Medvedev was in a tricky position welcoming a

president whose election victory last week has been marred by protests

and the greatest political crisis in the history of the Islamic Republic.



Gazeta, Russia: Kremlin Balanced 'Between Two Chairs': Iran's and the West's
Izvestiz, Russia: Russia Can Help Obama With Muslims
Press TV, Iran: Ayatollah Khamenei Says America Must Apologize for 1953 Coup
Frankfurter Rundschau, Germany: To Make Up With Iran, U.S. Must Fess Up to 1953 Coup
Frankfurter Rundschau, Germany: The CIA-Backed Coup Obama Failed to Mention
Kayhan, Iran: 'Zionist-Run News Media' are Wasting Their Time
Kayhan, Iran: President Ahmadinejad: Election a 'Blow to World Oppressors
Dar al-Hayat, Saudi Arabia: 'Let Ahmadinejad and the Supreme Leader Continue'
Die Welt, Germany: In Iran's Version of Democracy, West Remains Whipping Boy
L'Orient Le Jour, Lebanon: Mr. Obama's Push of Dialogue and Openness Kicks In
Dar al-Hayat, Saudi Arabia: Worrying Times for Iran's Supreme Leader
Les Dernieres Nouvelles d'Alsace, France: 'Iran's Ayatollahs are Doomed'
Gazeta, Russia: Kremlin Balanced 'Between Two Chairs': Iran's and the West's
Yemen Times, Yemen: 'Zionists and Their Puppets' Assail Barack Obama
The Asia Times, Hong Kong: Beijing Cautions the U.S. Over Iran

Jerusalem Post, Israel: Iranian Protesters 'Cast Adrift' By Obama and E.U.
Debka File, Israel: White House is Divided on Iranian Protests


Steven Clemons, an expert from the New America Foundation, has very precisely identified the “weakness” of Obama’s statement. “This was a serious mistake. The administration must be careful, but it should not reduce all of the problems with Iran to the nuclear threat. [translated quote].”


In this respect, Russia has an easier time. For many years, we Russians have tried not try to preach to others or impose morality, so we have no problem with our image when choosing partners for negotiations. It's no trouble at all for President Medvedev to meet with Ahmadinejad.














































[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US June 24, 5:39pm]