Obama’s softly-softly approach to the events in Iran following the fraudulent presidential election has made a great deal of sense. Yesterday however he conclusively slapped Iranian ‘president’ Ahmadinejad down. Hard:
Obama’s criticism of Iran turned Friday into an unusually personal war of words. To Ahmadinejad’s demand he apologize for meddling, Obama shot back that the regime should “think carefully” about answers owed to protestors it has arrested, bludgeoned and killed.
“The violence perpetrated against them is outrageous,” Obama said. “We see it and we condemn it.”
The president spoke at an East Room news conference capping his third set of meetings with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, one of several European leaders who spoke out more forcefully, more quickly than Obama on the unrest in Iran that followed the disputed June 12 elections.
“We will not forget,” Merkel said.
Ahmadinejad told Obama Thursday to “show your repentance” for criticizing Tehran’s response.
“I don’t take Mr. Ahmadinejad’s statements seriously about apologies, particularly given the fact that the United States has gone out of its way not to interfere with the election process in Iran,” Obama responded sternly.
“I would suggest that Mr. Ahmadinejad think carefully about the obligations he owes to his own people,” he added. “And he might want to consider looking at the families of those who’ve been beaten or shot or detained. And, you know, that’s where I think Mr. Ahmadinejad and others need to answer their questions.”
It’s clear that Obama is basing his ideas on how to deal with either Ahmadinejad or Mousavi on America’s national security requirements, and as Haaretz says it’s led to some unusual utterances. This however was priceless. No talk of ‘Axis of Evil’, just a cool dismissal of a dictator who has lost the support of his own people. I wouldn’t like to be in his position right now though, trying to figure out what line to walk now Ahmadinejad has shown that at least domestically he can’t be trusted. If the people really are prevented from from determining their future (and government) freely, will that make his direct appeals to them moot? Will he be forced into a line we know he doesn’t want?