Greg Djerejian has a good post here (via Andrew Sullivan) explaining why Paul Wolfowitz’s call for more direct US support of the Iranian opposition is wrong. But he doesn’t mention what I think is the central flaw in Wolfowitz’s use of the Philippines example: the US took a direct diplomatic role in the People Power revolution because the US was Ferdinand Marcos’s patron state. The US had to take a position there in the same way the USSR had to take a position in Berlin in 1989. In Iran, in contrast, it would be as counterproductive for the US to take a strong position supporting Moussavi and the opposition as it would have been for the USSR to take a strong position supporting the People’s Power revolution in 1984. Soviet support for the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa and for the Civil Rights movement in the US was similarly unhelpful.
By contrast, Obama’s support for non-violence and his warnings that governments must respect their citizens’ rights to freedom of assembly and expression now put the US in a position to condemn Iranian government repression of the demonstrators. In principle, one could see the UN’s 2005 endorsement of governments’ “responsibility to protect” their citizens being invoked here. That is a strong diplomatic position to be in. And all the US can do at this point is diplomacy.
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