Against H Res 560

H Res 560 was meant to show support for the Iranian people, but reflects a lack of clear headedness among members of Congress. Running contrary to the President’s intentions of treating the current situation with caution for fear of making American “support” a tool of the Iranian regime in its work against the protesters, H Res 560 is self indulgent on the part of Congressmen and women and contrary to the national interest. When President Obama said he did not want the United States to be perceived as meddling in Iranian internal affairs, he spoke with wisdom and an understanding that “Iranian reformers” on the ground, from so many accounts and their own words, do not want and do not need American “support”: such empty patronage plays into the propaganda of the Iranian regime and detracts from the credibility of legitimate reformers, adding fuel to . Resolution 560 registers the displeasure of a Congress wishing to assert itself on a policy deemed too easy going; it further aprises an attempt by House Republicans to undermine the President politically and in a rather miserable way. The President’s initial inclination was prudent, but was not viewed through a geostrategic or diplomatic lens at home; instead it became a partisan soundbite and used to justify hawkish rhetoric and emotionalism characteristic of most American discourse on Iran. It is pitiful to see Representatives who are so arrogant and intellectually fragile as to criticize the President’s speech to the Muslim world as “blaming America” and who scoff at the very notion that the overthrow of the Mossadeq government was not something for the United States to take responsibility for or to consider in its relations with a country like Iran accuse their president of poor judgement on the Iran file. This is to say that the Resolution’s spirit and content is questionable: its loud mouthed supporters pepper their promotion with talk of not wanting the country to appear weak in the face of Iran’s leadership. Take Representative Rohrabacher’s comment: “Tempered rhetoric can be interpreted by tyrants as weakness.” In this worldview, too, good sense and intelligence are also symbolic of weakness and it reflect the old approach to dealing with Iran that the new administration has rightly attempted to buck. A backgrounder on the resolution waxes ahistorical: “Over the course of American history, Presidents have explicitly affirmed support for oppressed peoples during moments of civil upheaval.” Here the Resolution proceeds from falsehood: there is a record of the opposite being the case (though not without variation), in some cases with more desirable results than in others. In the case of Iran, this has not been the case and  activism from the American government has little record of promoting real reform in Iran, and has served to undermine real work of hard working reformers. The US position might better be served without populism injected from southern California or grumbling elephants desperate to say they have something to show for their opposition. The authors of H Res 560 appear to have missed or totally ignored the point of President Obama’s early comments, having little use for or knowledge of history. Whatever its supporters may wish to say, siding simply the side of the crowd — because they dislike an element of what the US considers undesirable — is too vague of a premise to walk on and their timing undermines the administrations productive pursuits on Iran. The US does not negotiate with the “Iranian people,” it negotiates with representatives of the Supreme Leader. President Obama’s response, too disappoints: he should have reaffirmed his previous position against the kind of crude squawking represented by H Res 560 rather than accepting its supporters’ narrative around his better judgement. The episode sits in the same dirty basket of poor decisions in the Book of Great Moments in US-Iranian Relations. Its chapter might be titled: “H Res 560, an exercise in the Tomfool.”


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