One topic I have not dealt with is Iran, in part because Obama dominates everything - either what he is doing or how is actions have impacted our relations with our allies, or his failure to be the change he promised (hence the negation of his reasons for being elected).
Barrack 'I will not have any preconditions to negotiate with rogue regimes' Hussein 'I will sit down and talk to Ahmadinejad' Obama has frayed our relations with France, Britain, Germany, and has not done any building of relations with Spain, although he did try to speak Spanish, he hasn't helped our relations with Mexico, has alienated Canada, pissed off India, and set Pakistan on fire threatening the stability of that government. He has embraced Hamas and Fatah, even while they are killing each other, alienated Israel, kissed ass to the Islamic world, annoyed the Australians with his swagger and confrontational positioning, evoked the wrath of the extremists in the Islamic world, and has made the United States appear weaker. Appearances for over 1.5 billion people is everything, and we just showed ourselves to be weak.
Iran has nothing to do with the above, directly - more indirectly. The Obama administration was cheering for Mousavi over Amindinejad. Mousavi is no friend of democracy. His role in the events of the early 1980s in Iran - he was intimately involved in the Khomeni revolution, the imposition of a hard line Islamic state in Iran. He was not reaching out to the US, he was reaching for his Koran and his rifle. Yet, when it is a choice between the devil and his accomplice, I suppose choosing the accomplice is the lesser of the two evils - sort of like the Great Satan and the Lesser Satan. Except Obama's public statement was - at least there was vigorous debate. I only wonder whether the White House set up the teleprompter for that soundbite.
Mousavi will not rid the country of the mullahs nor curtail their power. He will not create a democratic state where once there was only repression and loathing.
However - it is also clear that millions have taken to the streets in Iran. Never have 'millions' taken to the streets in the US. Not for the 'Million Man March' and not for any anti-war protest now or in the 60s. Much of what those protests were about was drugs, parties, sex, and getting high - not any cause. Iran is different. It is all about a cause, and nothing about fun.
So what is Obama doing? Nothing more than the average American - he is listening to intelligence (remember the Democrats complained for 8 years about Bush's intelligence and how it was all flawed. Miracle of miracles - same sources, same people almost, and suddenly Democrats listen. Interesting isn't it ... politics and all.), but that is not entirely accurate, in part because the events are so fluid.
Obama would really like to sit down and have tea with Ahmadinejad but these protesters just won't stop and it is bothering Obama.
In 1978, the Shah used the police, but they wouldn't do much. Today the police have for the most part abandoned efforts to stop the protesters. The Shah turned to the army and they pounded down the protesters until carter told the Shah not to hurt anyone, and the army let up and the protesters became more violent and aggressive. Today the army is nearly evenly split - for and against the protests. Where the Shah used restraint, Amidinejad is not using restraint (and not respecting the voice of the millions for he has called those who protest - weeds) - Revolutionary Guard and militias roam the street killing people, arresting people, knocking down doors, closing the universities, using violence against the people.
The possible outcomes -
1) the people will not be beaten back and the government will fall. The mullahs will suddenly side with Mousavi and he will take control, and end up co-opted by the mullahs leading to widespread animosity toward him.
2) the government will fall, Mousavi will take control, power will shift, Iran will remain Islamic, but a greater voice will be given to the people.
3) the government will fall, the mullahs will be smashed, and Iran will become Democratic after Mousavi, as a transitional figure, gives way to someone more democratic.
4) the government will not fall, more oppression and violence, the army will lean toward Ahmadinejad, the mullahs hold power and the people return to their homes, BUT ...
It will be one of those four, or a variation on one of those four. The good news, even if it is number four, is the power of the mullahs, the power of the theocratic control by a few has been broken. The people have demonstrated they will no longer tolerate, no longer remain subservient to ... and even if Iranians return to their homes, the rage will grow, and the day will come soon when Iran will rid itself of those religious heretics. They are protesting oppression and what they consider a dictatorship. They scream out: Ahmadi be ashamed, open a grocery store; Death to the demagogue government; Leave Palestine alone, think of a solution for us; Death to the dictator.
The day will come, and one can only hope and pray to the Almighty God, that it happens sooner than later - for all our sakes.