Thursday, June 18, 2009

How Obama is Destroying Democracy. Again.

Kidding, of course. But in light of all the howling from the right about Obama as a failure for not immediately invading Iran (e.g., e.g., e.g.), it's well worth reading this short post of remarks made by Jack Duvall to Spencer Ackerman.

Ah, what the hell. I'll save you a click, if you like. Here's the gist.

Amazingly, someone who doesn’t think Obama’s statements about Iran have been detrimental to democratic impulses is Jack Duvall, the president of the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, a non-governmental organization which provides tools and training for political reformers and democracy activists around the world. Duvall told me that Obama’s statement yesterday about Iran was “extraordinary,” in a way that I hadn’t considered. “He shifted the frame,” Duvall noted, “from [the question of] ‘were the elections fradulent’ to ‘what’s the responsibility of the Iranian government for peaceful dissent?’ That lays down a marker going forward: this is how we’re assessing you. He doesn’t have to send that in a giant shell shot out of a Howitzer, but it’s a matter of record.” In fact, Duvall said, Obama’s statement was “the first time you’ve heard a president articulate” that “how governments respond to the clamor of their people to be heard should be a measure of how we assess their legitimacy.” While the Bush administration surely wouldn’t have disagreed, he continued, Obama sharpened the point by “focusing it and giving it such visibility” during the largest protests in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

This link courtesy of Reza Aslan, who mentioned it during his diavlog with Eli Lake. If you want some perspective on Iran that is both detailed and looks at the big pictures, you could do a lot worse than listening to this.

Lake, as you may or may not know, is a rare example of what I would call a reasonable neocon -- you can violently disagree with his take on matters, but he is a long time observer of the Middle East and well informed. He has over the past couple of years shown a lot more intellectual honesty, even as he still sees most events through his own highly colored lens. Aslan was born and raised in Iran, and is now a fairly liberal American. The diavlog between the two perspectives is instructive.

[Added] Here is a good post from Aslan [link fixed] on the election in Iran. It basically outlines the argument he presents in the diavlog.

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