The left tells Trump to shut up about Iran
Are the protests that have broken out all over Iran because the economy is so bad? I have yet to see anyone risk getting gunned down in the street by the government for a better job. There is much more to these protests than the left is trying to make us believe, and yet the almost universal advice coming from liberals is to keep quiet.
Meanwhile, at least a dozen Iranians have been killed by authorities during the protests, and, instead of intimidating the people, the violence has had the opposite effect. Demonstrations against the regime are growing, and the focus is definitely on kicking the clergy out of government.
The state TV report said 10 were killed during clashes Sunday night, without elaborating. Two demonstrators were killed during a protest in western Iran late Saturday.
"Some armed protesters tried to take over some police stations and military bases but faced serious resistance from security forces," state TV reported.
Earlier Monday, the semi-official ILNA news agency quoted Hedayatollah Khademi, a representative for the town of Izeh, as saying two people died there Sunday night.
He said the cause of death wasn't immediately known. Many in Izeh, some 455 kilometers (280 miles) southwest of Tehran, have hunting rifles in their homes.
On Sunday, Iran blocked access to Instagram and the popular messaging app Telegram used by activists to organize. President Hassan Rouhani acknowledged the public's anger over the Islamic Republic's flagging economy, though he and others warned that the government wouldn't hesitate to crack down on those it considers lawbreakers.
Donald Trump has placed the presidency of the United States clearly and unequivocally on the side of the protesters:
Many reports of peaceful protests by Iranian citizens fed up with regime's corruption & its squandering of the nation's wealth to fund terrorism abroad. Iranian govt should respect their people's rights, including right to express themselves. The world is watching! #IranProtests
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 30, 2017
Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever, and the day will come when the Iranian people will face a choice. The world is watching! pic.twitter.com/kvv1uAqcZ9
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 30, 2017
But there are many on the left who are advising Trump to stay out of Iranian internal politics. An op-ed in the New York Times by Phillip Gordon suggests that Trump remain silent:
Mr. Trump, after all, has said Iran is responsible for nearly all the problems of the Middle East, and accuses the country of spreading "death destruction and chaos all around the globe." The president would no doubt love to announce that his tough approach has delivered results by undermining the repressive Iranian government, and that his predecessor's more conciliatory approach failed.
I, too, want to see the government in Tehran weakened, moderated[,] or even removed. So let me offer Mr. Trump some unsolicited advice: [k]eep quiet and do nothing.
That seems to be the best advice being offered by liberals: sit down and shut up. No one denies that the government of Iran would be livid with the kind of rhetorical interference being offered by Trump. In fact, Trump's statements may be used to incite support for the regime against the "Great Satan."
But how successful would they be?
John Kerry says this is an "Iranian moment" and that we don't know what's happening there:
With humility about how little we know about what's happening inside Iran, this much is clear: it's an Iranian moment and not anyone else's. But the rights of people to protest peacefully and voice their aspirations are universal and governments everywhere should respect that.
— John Kerry (@JohnKerry) December 31, 2017
"Humility" won't stop the Iranian government from murdering its own citizens.
Barack Obama showed "humility" in 2009, when the nation erupted in protests after the government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stole the presidential election. Obama's studied silence and indifference deflated the protesters and allowed the government crackdown to succeed. Now Iranians are in the streets again, and an American president is encouraging them.
I suppose there's a chance Trump's support will backfire. There is no doubt a risk in Trump stepping up and encouraging Iranians to protest. But considering the stakes, isn't it a risk worth taking?
Obama didn't think so, and the 2009 "Green Movement" was crushed with nary a peep from the president.
While the Iranian government might take a dim view of Trump's interference, what about the protesters themselves? What do they think of the president's rhetoric?
Perhaps we should ask someone who battled the oppression of the Soviet Union. Dissident Anton Sharansky, who spent ten years in the Gulag, recalls how he felt when he read of Ronald Reagan's "Evil Empire" speech in 1983.
In 1983, I was confined to an eight-by-ten-foot prison cell on the border of Siberia. My Soviet jailers gave me the privilege of reading the latest copy of Pravda. Splashed across the front page was a condemnation of President Ronald Reagan for having the temerity to call the Soviet Union an "evil empire." Tapping on walls and talking through toilets, word of Reagan's "provocation" quickly spread throughout the prison. We dissidents were ecstatic. Finally, the leader of the free world had spoken the truth – a truth that burned inside the heart of each and every one of us.
At the time, I never imagined that three years later, I would be in the White House telling this story to the president. When he summoned some of his staff to hear what I had said, I understood that there had been much criticism of Reagan's decision to cast the struggle between the superpowers as a battle between good and evil. Well, Reagan was right and his critics were wrong.
The Iranian protesters now know they have a powerful and influential ally in the president of the United States. We can't know whether Trump's words of encouragement will make a difference. But we can be certain that Trump's failure to speak out would doom any resistance to the Iranian regime.