Sohrab Ahmari im World Affairs Journal:
In the coming months and years, American policymakers must actively identify and reward liberal voices, while simultaneously undermining and marginalizing Islamist ones.
Obama’s record on this count has been woefully inadequate thus far. Eager to put the Bush freedom agenda to rest in favor of a more “respectful” approach to the world’s least free region, the administration has repeatedly made it clear that the US has little interest in promoting liberalism in the Middle East. The abandonment of Iran’s embattled dissidents in 2009 was merely the most visible symptom of this orientation. Since then, as the desire for individual freedom and popular dignity has lit up the entire region, the administration’s response to each successive Arab revolt has revealed its failure to learn the lesson of the previous one. The routine has become comically familiar: first, an assurance that the regime in question, friend or foe, is stable; next, a half-hearted call for “reform” and a denunciation of generalized “violence”; and finally, once the dictator has fallen, an insistence that the administration had supported the popular will all along and had played an invisible but significant role in its success. (Even in Libya, where NATO acted to prevent genocide, the leader of the free world insisted that the US play a secondary role and barely bothered to articulate the moral dimension of the mission.)
This inconsistency and mendacity plays right into the Iranian regime’s hands. As underprepared as the US is for containment militarily, it is even less so politically and ideologically.