On Obama’s Watch
“Bearing witness” isn’t enough.
by William Kristol on The Weekly Standard
On June 20, after a week of post-Iranian-election presidential mealy-mouthing, and a day after both houses of Congress had passed resolutions condemning the behavior of the Iranian regime, the White House put out a statement from President Obama. It began:
The Iranian government must understand that the world is watching. We mourn each and every innocent life that is lost. We call on the Iranian government to stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people.
Martin Luther King once said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” I believe that. The international community believes that. And right now, we are bearing witness to the Iranian people’s belief in that truth, and we will continue to bear witness.
Leave aside the questionable notion that the “international community” believes the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice. Focus on what is truly startling: The president of the United States apparently believes the government of Iran needed to hear from him that “the world is watching.” Why did he suppose the regime was busy shutting down websites and expelling foreign journalists or restricting them to their hotels in Tehran? What the Iranian regime cared about–what the Iranian regime was worried about–was what, if anything, the world would do.
The answer, the American president told them, was that the world would do nothing.
Almost a half-century before, a young Democratic president had said this:
Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay anyprice, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.
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