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By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 17, 2009


The light has finally gone on in American foreign policy vis a vis Iran. The token has finally fallen into place. The president is finally speaking about Iran in terms that prove that he, Barack Obama, really, finally, understands Iran.

In remarks that were on target and accurate, soundbites that reflect good advice and sound judgment about the crisis in Iran. President Obama said: "It's important to understand that although there is amazing ferment taking place in Iran, the difference between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi, in terms of their actual policies, may not be as great as has been advertised..."

He said: "Either way we were going to be dealing with an Iranian regime that has historically been hostile to the United States, that has caused problems in the neighborhood and is pursuing nuclear weapons."

And in discussing the real differences between Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Mir Hussein Mousavi he said that those differences: "[M]ay not be as great as has been advertised." That is an understatement of the highest order, but at least the truth has finally been spoken by the American president.

Obama is acknowledging, explaining to the people of the United States of America, that when it comes to the big issues, to the issues that mist directly affect the United States - to nuclear development and to religion, that there is little to no difference between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi. Both candidates are insiders. Both candidates were vetted by the religious council of Iran and chosen as four out of four hundred other wannabe candidates to be the mouthpiece of the real leader of Iran, The Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. And why? Because both Ahmadinejad and Mousavi represent the mullahs of Iran and both Mousavi and Ahmadinejad respect the religious establishment that is Iran.

So, one might rightfully ask, if Ahmadinejad and Mousavi are so similar, why is there such a public row in the street of Teheran? If they are both the same, what difference does it make who wears the mantle?

The answer is actually very simple. The one great difference between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi is that Mousavi is not Ahmadinejad. Iranians are tired of Ahamdinejad. The sheer fact that Mousavi is not Ahmadinejad was enough to motivate Iranians to vote for the one and against the other. Anyone would have beat out Ahmadinejad if this were a real election. But a real election it was not.

The vote against Ahmadinejad was a rejection of the religious leadership of Iran. That holds true despite the fact the Mousavi represents the same religious leadership. The vote against Ahmadinejad was a rejection of the role played by the political leadership within Iran. That holds true despite the fact that Mousavi has also held political office, serving as prime minister under the founder of the Revolution, the Ayatollah Khomeini.

As they were casting their votes every Iranian knew that the only vote that would count would be the one cast by The Supreme Leader. They knew it as well as Mousavi knew it.
They knew that the only way Mousavi would win the election would be if The Supreme Leader was convinced that Mousavi would be an even more willing and convincing messenger than Ahmadinejad had been.

The people tried to convince The Supreme Leader. The Supreme Leader was not swayed. Their message was not convincing enough. The people tried hard and they have not given up trying. They are paying with their freedom and with their lives.

Here again, finally, President Obama is showing knowledge heretofore unseen. "I do believe that something has happened in Iran," he said. "There is a questioning of the kinds of antagonistic postures towards the international community that have taken place in the past and that there are people who want to see greater openness and greater debate and want to see greater democracy."

And Obama is beginning to understand The Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah Khamenei and the real monopoly he holds over the lives of the Iranian people. He hinted that the Ayatollah might actually have insight and influence when he said that the Supreme Leader "indicates he understands the Iranian people have deep concerns about the election."

There are a few things I will never understand. Why the president chose a midday show on CNBC as the platform from which to broadcast the most important and profound statements he has made about Iran since the days leading up to and following the election, is beyond me. CNBC is watched, depending on the day of the week and the time of day, by between 20,000 and 300,000 people. More people watch the local evening news in Akron, Ohio than watch daytime CNBC.

And why it took until Tuesday, five days after the Iranian election, for the president to show us that he has finally been briefed by someone who really knows what is happening is another unsolvable.

As they say, better later than never.

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4 June 2017 12:13 PM in Columns

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