What a difference a year (and a few uprisings in Iran) can make for the opinion makers at the New York Times.
Ever since protests erupted across Iran, a clear contrast developed between President Donald Trump’s explicit support for the brave men and women taking the streets in anger against the country’s theocratic mullahs and former President Barack Obama’s reluctance to take sides when similar demonstrations took place in 2009.
Trump and his administration’s efforts to forcefully condemn the Iranian regime’s efforts to stifle protests has even gotten writers at the Times’ liberal opinion page applauding his position.
Columnist Roger Cohen, no friend to Trump or any Republican for that matter, penned a piece for Wednesday’s paper called “Trump Is Right, This Time, About Iran.”
Cohen wrote Tuesday in an op-ed:
“I have a New Year’s confession: I retweeted President Trump with approval, not something I had expected to do, especially on the subject of Iran. But Trump has been right to get behind the brave Iranian protesters calling for political and economic change.”
Going a step further, Cohen knocked the Obama White Houses’ “deafening” silence during the Green Movement in 2009. Obama always worried about offending a Muslim country into violence, however, Cohen wrote, “There is not much downside to [Trump’s] bluntness.”
Another Times contributor, Reuel Marc Gerecht, wrote on Tuesday that, “The worst thing for Iran’s protesters…[is] U.S. silence.” A former Iranian-targets officers in the Central Intelligence Agency, Gerecht’s column savages the Obama administration’s inaction.
The Obama administration, like so many well-intentioned Western journalists and scholars, locked onto this hope for gradual transformation from theocracy to democracy even though within Iran it had been shattered. The death of this dream was the electoral triumph in 2013 of Mr. Rouhani, a founding father of the regime’s dreaded Intelligence Ministry. Iranians, who would surely down theocracy in a free vote, have a political system that gives them the option of voting for Mr. Rouhani or even more distasteful candidates.
Trump has a new opportunity, Gerecht argues. Trump’s tweet supporting the protesters “were a good start,” however, the White House and Congress “should also let loose a tsunami of sanctions against the Revolutionary Guards.”
Even a column published this week by Iranian novelist Amir Ahmadi Arian refutes the Obama administration’s narrative that the U.S.’s massive payout in the nuclear deal would lead to stability and a better quality of live for the average Iranian through improved infrastructure.
Contrast that analysis with Arian’s piece, where she writes about the “looting of national wealth” by Iran’s supposed “moderate” (in the words of the Obama administration) government and cites protesters chanting “Down with embezlers!” and “Leave the country alone, mullahs.”
Of course, all of this was predicted by those suspicious of Obama’s various concessions to Iran. Even Arian writes that Iranian intellectuals saw this kind of discontent building. The good news, it seems, is that the current administration doesn’t have its head in the sand.
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