Jacoby: ‘Democracy’ is a dirty word for Obama

Jeff Jacoby is the lone voice of reason at the Boston Globe.

It’s worth a full read, but here are some snippets:

THE CHOICE presented by the democracy protests in Iran could hardly have been clearer.

So why was President Obama’s response initially so ambivalent? Why was he more interested in preserving “dialogue’’ with Iran’s dictatorial rulers than in providing moral support for their freedom-seeking subjects? Why did it take him until yesterday to declare that Americans are “appalled and outraged’’ by Iran’s crackdown and to “strongly condemn’’ the vicious attacks on peaceful dissenters?

A disconcerting answer to those questions appears in the new issue of Commentary, where Johns Hopkins University scholar Joshua Muravchik isolates the most striking feature of the young Obama administration’s foreign policy: “its indifference to the issues of human rights and democracy.’’


The rupture was telegraphed at a pre-inauguration meeting with the Washington Post, during which the incoming president argued that “freedom from want and freedom from fear’’ are more urgent than democracy, and that “oftentimes an election can just backfire’’ if corruption isn’t fixed first. Muravchik points out that when Obama gave Al-Arabiya, an Arabic-language satellite channel, his first televised interview as president, he focused on US relations with the Middle East and Muslim world, yet “never mentioned democracy or human rights.’’

In February, Obama traveled to Camp Lejeune, N.C., to announce his timetable for withdrawing US troops from Iraq. His strategic goal, he said, was “an Iraq that is sovereign, stable, and self-reliant.’’ But other than a glancing reference to the successful Iraqi election that had taken place a few weeks earlier, he again had nothing to say about democracy.
In closing, Jacoby writes:
Obama may see himself as the un-Bush, cool to democracy because his predecessor was so keen for it. But to millions of subjugated human beings, he is the leader of the free world – an avatar of the democratic freedoms they hunger for. On the streets of Iran recently, many protesters held signs reading “Where Is My Vote?’’ There are limits to what the American president can do for Iran’s beleaguered democrats. But is it too much to ask that he take their question seriously?
Judging from what has been revealed today, I dare say it is too much to ask in Obama’s book.

2 thoughts on “Jacoby: ‘Democracy’ is a dirty word for Obama

  1. The Left and the Buchananite paleocons always set up a straw man argument i.e. it is either Ahmadinajead or the Pahlevi’s (not that there would be anything wrong with the Pahlavi’s). The choice we are facing is similar to 1956 Hungary – either the hard line Stalinists such as Erno Gero and Matyas Rakosi, or the reforming communists such as Imre Nagy. I would always go with the reformers.

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