Romney betrays Iran protesters —really

We aren’t being ironic in the slightest. The only irony is that Mitt Romney posed as the protector of the Iranian protesters when by doing exactly that he actually utterly betrayed them—placing them at greater risk of repression and generally weakening their position within Iran. Here’s what he said, according to the New York Times transcript

And then the president began what I’ve called an apology tour of going to — to various nations in the Middle East and — and criticizing America. I think they looked at that and saw weakness. Then when there were dissidents in the streets of Tehran, the Green Revolution, holding signs saying, is America with us, the president was silent. I think they noticed that as well. And I think that when the president said he was going to create daylight between ourselves and Israel that — that they noticed that as well.

Now this is a bigger betrayal of Iran’s protesters than anything Obama could ever do. Portraying them as looking to the US for sponsorship or protection, and linking them to US imperial interests in the Middle East, and even, implicitly, to Israel! Nothing could make Ahmadinejad happier than this verbiage, which plays right into his cynical strategy of tarring the protesters as dupes or pawns of the United States. Obama, in contrast, did the Iranian opposition a great service when he cut off money to the Iran Democracy Fund, over the outraged protests of the neocons. And we wish Obama’s State Department had refrained from such unhelpful stunts as sending Parsi-language Tweets in support of the Iranian protesters. As in Syria, US involvement merely muddies the moral waters. It is in the interests of the Iranian and Syrian opposition to maintain their militant independence from Western imperialism. The more “solidarity” they receive from the US government—as opposed to workers and grassroots progressive forces in the US—the worse it will be for them. And for prospects for meaningful revolution throughout the region.

But while some Syrian opposition forces have indeed been wooed into the imperialist camp (facing a desperate situation and under pressure to take allies where they can find them), we see no evidence of this in Iran. We challenge Romney to produce photographic evidence of Iranian protesters holding signs reading “Is America with us?” Just one photo, Mitt. If you can produce even one, World War 4 Report‘s chief blogger promises to vote for you, OK? We’ll be waiting.

And will the legions of media “fact-checkers” call Romney out on this whopper? We’ll be waiting for that one too.

  1. Yes and no…
    I agree with you that it was best that the US keep its distance from the crisis.

    The problem is, the Obama administration (contrary to the ignorant “anti-imperialist” conspiracy theorists) wanted to come to an agreement with the Islamic Republic over the nuclear issue. The June 2009 protests queered their pitch and caught them flat-footed.

    Perceiving Obama’s awkward silence, the protesters wanted Obama to stand with them in some undefined way. It was *not* a call for American intervention into their crisis.

    The leadership of the Green Movement, which is more closely wedded to Islamic Republican politics than most outsiders realize, desperately wanted the Americans to keep their distance and clearly stated that they did *not* want American intervention into this crisis.

    Finally, the protests were not uniform. It would be inaccurate to say that none of the protesters wanted American intervention, and this is completely understandable. People living under a ruthless police state would not mind a little help from a powerful outside ally. The Polish union activists were delighted to get Reagan’s intervention, as uncomfortable as that makes people like us feel.

    1. Romney’s Iran distortion (OK, maybe not “lie”)
      I think it was (and is) a very slim minority of Iranian protesters who wanted (or want) US “intervention,” and if by that you mean military intervention, it becomes virtually nil. After doing some digging, it emerges that the Washington Post did report on June 12, 2010 that “protesters held up signs last year asking President Obama, ‘Are you with them or with us?'” The Atlantic also posted a video clip of Tehran protesters chanting “Obama, Obama, you’re either with them, or with us!” So did Frontlne.

      So Mitt wasn’t making it up out of whole cloth, but he still distorted things enough that I don’t feel obliged to hold to my end of the challenge by voting for him. This strikes me as principally an admonition to Obama (not “America”) not to connive with the regime (“them”)—as the US did (despite appearances) in Egypt a year later, providing Mubarak with tear gas while bandying democratic phrases… Not a positive appeal for US support.