To Meddle or Not to Meddle . . .

As the situation in Iran draws closer to a direct confrontation between the opposition and the current government, many people have been asking the same question; why is Obama not intervening on the people's behalf? This is an understandable question, but also shows a lack of understanding and knowledge of Iran's history, specifically in relation to the US. Just as meddling in Iran in 1953 led to a strong anti-American and ant-western sentiment, a direct intervention at an inappropriate time would severely undermine US interests in the region for decades to come, as well as weakening the opposition that is taking a stand against the current theocratic regime.

America's history with Iran is steeped in mistrust, fear, and blood. It began with a coup in 1953, organized and implemented by the CIA and MI6. Both America and Britain were upset about the nationalization of Iran's oil industry by its elected government at the time and sought to install a more cooperative and pro-western government structure. The coup returned the Iranian monarchy to power and replaced the democratically elected government. For 26 years resentment built and radical Islam gained a foothold and legitimacy with its anti-western rhetoric; as the monarchy tried to silence voices of dessent, the resentment towards the pro-western regime grew, along with their sympathy and support for the religious clerics who condemned the west. It came to a head in 1979, when protestors overthrew the monarchy and the Shah and his family were forced to leave the country. The Islamic-Republic was formed, putting the Mullahs and holy men in charge of the government; Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, an exile and leader of the revolution, returned to Tehran where he was named Supreme Leader (note: this is the predecessor of today's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei). Radicalizing the revolution was the Iran hostage crisis, which has led to a deterioration and frayed relations with the US ever since. In the time between then and now there has not been a positive development in the dialouge between the US and Iran; in 1988 a US destroyer shot down an Iranian airliner carrying 290 passengers, which the state department stated was an accident. The pretenses of the incident were of course irrelevant and relations between Iran and American grew even more strained.

Even now, as emotions run high and support for the free people of Iran grows in the west and America, our leaders must be cautious. Picking a side right now, or using irresponsible rhetoric would only give Khamenei and his followers the political ammunition they desire, and right now, desperately need. Even in his speech given today, Khamenei railed against the enemies of Islam, America, the UK and Israel. Already the government has tried to accuse the US in inciting the protest and meddling in affairs; luckily, due to the discretion of our President, it is common knowledge that this is false, and has had an empty and hollow impact on the supporters. However, if Obama began saber rattling in the early days of protest Iranian hard-liners would have the scape-goat they needed. When leaders fear of losing power, they often look to "external enemies" to disctract the people, sow fear and mistrust and rally their base of extremists. Also, an international undermining of his legitimacy would cause Khamenei to crack down even harder on the protestors as an example to everyone else in the world.

Had President Obama been seen as meddling in Iranian affairs it would have been a lethal blow to the movement in Iran. The Iranians there know that they alone can change their government, and that, this time, the west cannot do it for them. Joe Klein said it best in his article, "In fact, it seemed clear to me when I was in Iran--and even more clear, given the events of the past few days--that the protesters realize that they have to do this on their own. And that an American endorsement would taint their movement, perhaps fatally." If that was not enough, take Henry Kissinger's word for it. While those GOP members can't criticize the President fast enough for how he is handling Iran, stalwart GOP security experts back Obama. Below is the interview with Kissnger on Fox News. Producers must have shat themselves when he backed up Obama's Iran approach:

Make no doubt, then the government begins to use brutal violence against those protesting, the administration will take a much more firm stance, but the timing must be right. Being careless right now could cost the Iranian people more than just their lives. It could cost them the future of their country as well.