Why Exactly Does the Iranian Government Believe it is Beyond Criticism?

It may seem like a trivial question, but it’s really a very important one: when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad voices his displeasure at President Barack Obama voicing his displeasure over recent events in Iran, as described for example in an article appearing in today’s Deutsche Welle

[President Obama] has recently has ramped up his previously muted criticism, saying he was “appalled and outraged” by the crackdown on protesters. Ahmadinejad reacted by comparing Obama to his predecessor Georg[e] W. Bush.
“Mr Obama made a mistake to say those things,” he said. “Our question is why he fell into this trap and said things that previously Bush used to say.”
…exactly on what is President Ahmadinejad basing his belief that the actions of his government — especially the violent ones — are beyond criticism? We know he isn’t shy about criticizing other governments. So what’s his basis for making public criticism a one-way street?
It’s not really possible to negotiate with his regime, until this underlying belief is understood.

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14 years ago

Wrong question. You know for folks who love to talk about American exceptionalism, it’s funny that it’s not apparent that statements from the President of the U.S. carry more weight than comments from some minor potentate.
Consider this from the stand point of the government of Iran:
– The U.S. supported a coup against the democratically elected government of Iran and then continued to support a despot for decades.
– The U.S. supported Saddam Hussein in his war of aggression against Iran (presumably the fringe-right was for him before they were against him).
– The U.S. invaded and continues to occupy 2 of Iran’s neighbors, notably preceded by tough rhetoric from the Bush administration.
– The Bush administration and the Democratic Congress approved financing last summer to destablize the current Iranian government.
– This administration continues to state that “all options are on the table,” an implicit threat to use nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear state in violation of U.S. and international law.
Yet we’re to expect that in this context these pronouncements be treated as idle musings of the Obama administration? Puh-lease. Crazy… yes. Stupid… no.

14 years ago

So why is it that the U.S. doesn’t forcefully condemn the much less democratic government of Saudi Arabia? What about U.S. support for dictatorships in Egypt, Indonesia, or any number of countries in the Americas? Where were the calls from the right to end outright U.S. support for those despotic regimes?
For that matter, where was the outcry on this blog when the Bush administration received “good friend,” Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea in an official visit or the red carpet treatment given to Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan? Why should we not start by ending our direct support of these despots?
I’m all for the right’s new found interest in democracy, but this isn’t about democracy. This is about regime change.
Regarding your last point, sure. And that’s best accomplished by way of example, which as noted above is a somewhat checkered example even today. It’s truly an Orwellian claim to say that we best “help” the people of Iran towards self-determination by CIA covert ops and not so veiled threats.

14 years ago

So Bush made weak and hypocritical remarks paying lip service to democratic ideas while propping up despotic regimes with military and financial aid. Certainly not unique to his Presidency or to Republican administrations.
You didn’t hear complaints from the left about “not showing proper deference” because that’s not the issue. It makes no sense in the first place, which is why I responded to the post. You can find many, many on the left questioning the real and most shameful issue, direct U.S. support for murderous dictatorships decade after decade.
As to your last point, if you think tilting at windmills will eventually lead to a few dragons going down, have at it. In fact with regard to allies like the Saudis (or the Israelis for that matter on human rights), I think it’s reasonable to expect that words can have the desired effect albeit a minor one compared to withdrawal of aid. Much of the world will recognize the hypocrisy, but so be it.
However in this case, U.S. meddling only strengthens the regime by allowing them to rally the faithful against the external enemy and denounce anyone dissenting as traitors.

14 years ago

Check my initial comment above because that’s not what I said. I equate meddling with meddling. Past is prologue, and we’ve done quite a bit more than talk. You seem to think we should act as if our history with Iranian regime began with the election. I’m guessing you’d be feeling differently if Iran were funneling money to U.S. based groups seeking to overthrow the American government.
I’ll also note that my question curiously remains unanswered: if we actually care about democracy why don’t we start by stopping funding to the numerous despotic U.S. client states? I take it those regimes are “beyond criticism?”

14 years ago

Case point, Peru, where as many as 50 were gunned down during anti-free trade protests:

Protests have lasted now over 50 days, only recently erupting into bloodshed when Garcia suspended civil liberties, declared a state of emergency, and decided to send in the military to end the dispute. This was all done in the name of Garcia’s idea of ‘democracy,’ which should be farcical to anyone who has the least idea what democracy means. Indigenous groups have maintained they want to be included in this so-called democracy, meaning they have a say over what happens in their lands, and that their rights be respected. This is clearly within international law now, after the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was approved two years ago.
The Declaration lays out provisions that clearly establish the rights to free, prior and informed consent over development projects in Indigenous territories, and the right to be involved in any decision making processes that would impact on Indigenous Peoples’ lands, resources or rights. Repeated demands have called for there to be dialogue with Indigenous groups.

All this going on with little or no handwringing in the U.S. about supression of democracy or calls for the Obama administration to take a more active roll. Why is that?

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