Noah: dear pres obama, you criticized pres bush and administration for their actions in iraq. claiming there where no WMD's and ignoring evidence of a torturous and murderous regime. now, with OVERWHELMING evidence of crimes against humanity you do nothing. please act now! how many more innocent iranians must die?! i leave you with this quote: "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere" -dr martin luther king jr
Me: ...dude, that argument doesn't even begin to make sense.
Noah: yes it does. lets say your car got keyed. and your neighbor said the mailman said he saw your other neighbor do it. you probably wouldnt do anything without more evidence. BUT if your neighbor... no ALL your neighbors recorded and photographed the mailman doing it. i would say its time to take action. so i dont understand how pres obama can not act under such a flood of evidence.
i was also praising pres bush for doing the right thing with much less evidence.
please tell me you guys dont really think we should do nothing!
Me: Couple of major flaws with your initial argument. 1, you're presuming that the situations in Iran and Iraq are equivalent; they're not. They're not even comparable. And 2, that the objections to the invasion of Iraq were solely based on the WMD claims. The reasons that invading Iraq was a Bad Idea is that it was unethical, poorly planned, ineptly executed AND based on a lie. Focusing on the last reason doesn't make the other reasons go away. To use your analogy: Bush took that information and beat the shit out of the neighbor's kids, then burned down his house. You're arguing that just because we have more evidence that the neighbor is an asshole, we're more justified in beating the shit outta the kid. No one's arguing that the neighbor is a dick; but destroying everything around the neighbor and attacking his family isn't a justifiable course of action.
You seem to be implying that we should engage in some kind of military response. Frankly, that's fucking insane. Reasons:
1) It's completely unfeasible. We never fully secured either Afghanistan or Iraq, even with our technological superiority and a massive troop deployment. Iran has a vastly higher population, spread over a much vaster geographic area, and their military is far more technologically advanced than Iraq's was; even if our forces weren't already stretched incredibly thin, it would be difficult or impossible for us to achieve any kind of authority there through force. But we ARE spread incredibly thin; we don't have nearly enough manpower to do anything productive there.
2) It would be politically retarded. For years, Ahmadenijad has railed against the imperial goals of the US; invading Iran would only lend credence to his accusations and cause a massive uprising of support FOR his government. Nothing strengthens nationalist support for a leader as effectively as an outside threat; look at 9/11, when even those who were most anti-Bush rallied around around president. The people who are protesting may not want Ahmadenijad in power, but they want intervention from outsiders even LESS.
3) It's ethically dubious, at best. Iran is a sovereign nation; her people deserve to determine their own fate. This has the possibility of being the greatest catalyst for change and modernization in the region in half a century, but that's only if the Iranian people do it themselves. American intervention would invalidate everything they're fighting for. Reverse the situation: If Obama had been suspected of stealing the election, would you support the idea of Saudi Arabia taking control of the country and making sure that justice was done? No. Democracy—a government that is ultimately accountable to the people—is meaningless if requires the intervention of outsiders to enforce it.
So yes, I think we should do nothing—militarily. I think we should put considerable diplomatic pressure on Ahmadenijad's government, and encourage other countries in the region to do the same; if he insists on violently retaining power, he's going to lose all credibility on the world stage. We should continue to bolster the flow of information into and out of the country. But military action here would be foolish and counterproductive; the Iranian people deserve better than that.
Noah: well #1 i personally see the invasion of iraq as the right thing to do (i reference almost anything christopher hitchens has written on the subject) but lets not linger in that. #2 obama has done almost nothing to help those in iran, i'm not saying a military operation is the solution. i just with he'd stop sitting around with his thumb up his ass. #3 i dont consider a torturous and murderous regime a sovereign nation. i think there is a MASSIVE lack of human decency and common sense in the "liberal" or "democratic" movement when people are dying on the other side of the world and we dont step up to the plate. hope and change my ass.
Me: 1) Hitch is a smart guy, and I share a lot of his opinions, but I think he's wrong on Iraq...but it's a bit late to debate now. My point was that you can't compare the two countries; just because Iran does have a nuclear program of some kind doesn't mean you can treat it the same as Iraq. 2) Other than denounce the violence—which he's done—there's little else Obama CAN do. And little else he SHOULD do. It was the meddling in Iran's internal affairs back in the seventies that caused the anti-West backlash we've been dealing with for the past thirty years. 3) Iran is absolutely a sovereign nation. Don't make the mistake of conflating a people with its government—the protests of the past few weeks prove there's a huge rift between the two. In the same way that your political views aren't defined by the President, Iran's people aren't defined by Ahmadenijad's regime.
And yes, it's horrible that people are being imprisoned and killed. But sometimes that's what it takes. Jefferson's quote about the tree of Liberty comes to mind.
As for hope and change, it's Obama's overtures of collaboration with the Muslim world—rather than simply denouncing the entire country of Iran as 'evil' like Bush did—that have helped inspire Iran's youth to rise against the regime the way they have. This couldn't have happened four years ago; Obama's presidency helped make this possible.
Noah: i'm sorry dude but obama has NOTHING to do with it!!!! i love you, but thats retarded.
Me: I'm not saying that Obama deserves any specific credit for what's happening; like you say, he has nothing to do with it directly. But Obama's presidency has brought with it a major shift in our dealings with the Middle East, at least in rhetoric. Ahmadenijad has spent years demonizing the West, and America in particular, as being an imperialistic and anti-Muslim threat. Bush's repeated reference to Iran as part of the Axis of Evil, and the constant discussion of "Is Iran next?" only served to support those claims, and make the Iranian people feel threatened. The fact that now there's an American president named Barack Hussein Obama, who has made speeches offering friendship and cooperation with the Muslim world, has undeniably affected how America is perceived. Ahmadenijad, on the other hand, is still painting America as an immediate threat; such claims now, in the face of Obama's outreach, has caused many Iranians to view Ahmadenijad far more critically, eroding his support. And it's this erosion of support that's made the current situation possible.
So no, Obama isn't responsible for the currrent revolutionary atmosphere in Iran. But he has undeniably contributed to creating an environment where such an atmosphere was not only possible, but inevitable. That's the point I'm making.
Noah: well i completely disagree. oh well
Me: No surprise there :) But I'm not offering any opinions in this; everything I've stated is pretty self-evident and verifiable. So I guess I'm wondering what exactly you disagree with, and, more importantly, why? I'm open here; throw some evidence my way and convince me.
...and that's it. Evidence + a clear line of reasoning vs. 'well I disagree just because.' Kinda frustrating. Obama's far from perfect, and there are legitimate criticisms to be leveled from both ends of the political spectrum, but hating him 'just cuz' is pathetic and intellectually lazy. Same thing happened during the Clinton years: legitimate points of criticism were overlooked simply because the GOP was so insane in their all-consuming hatred for him. Fuckin' petty.