In 1983, Ronald Reagan used a word to describe the Soviet Union that some of his advisors who wanted engagement with the Soviets wished he wouldn’t use. It will anger the Soviet leaders, they said. It will make negotiations impossible.
But Reagan used the word anyway. He called the Soviet regime “evil.”
And the impact of that word changed history.
As Callista and I show in our new movie, Ronald Reagan: Rendezvous with Destiny, American Presidents who speak out can have a big impact for freedom.
“He could not have helped us better,” Lech Walesa, the head of Poland’s Solidarity movement, said later. “I don’t think any missiles or any army could have been more effective.”
The Policy Of Engagement With Iran Is Dead. The Protestors Killed It.
Yesterday, President Obama finally spoke forcefully and eloquently about the aspirations of the Iranian people who are demonstrating in the streets of Iran today. His words, “Those who stand up for justice are always on the right side of history” were particularly meaningful.
Still, President Obama is standing by his policy of engagement with the Iranian theocrats.
Like the advisors to President Reagan, Obama wants to preserve the option of negotiations with Iran. A perfect example of this was the President’s refusal in the press conference to address the issue of rescinding invitations to Iranian diplomats of the current Islamic regime to Fourth of July celebrations at U.S. embassies across the world.
But the President’s policy of engagement with Iran is dead. The protestors in the streets of Iran killed it.
The President Has an Opportunity to Advance American Ideas and Interests
What’s left is a tremendous opportunity — and a tremendous choice — for President Obama. He can use his great rhetorical skills and the resources of the American government to buttress the courage shown by the protestors in the Iranian streets, or he can use them to betray them.
He can seize this moment to help bring about the end of the planet’s number one state sponsor of terrorism, or he can let it pass him by.
But he can’t go back and negotiate with a leadership that stole an election and turned its thugs loose on the citizens who protested. He can’t give legitimacy to a thoroughly illegitimate regime.
Irantracker.org Counts 1.3 Million Protestors, 392 Arrested and 32 Dead in Iran
President Obama and his advisors are insisting that what’s going on now in Iran is Iranian business and the United States has no business “meddling” in that country’s affairs.
This is an interesting change from the party of Roosevelt, Kennedy and Carter. Since when did concern for freedom, justice and human rights become “meddling” on the part of America?
My colleagues at the American Enterprise Institute are keeping a running tally of the protests in Iran at www.irantracker.org.
They count 1.3 million protestors, 392 arrests and 32 deaths — and that’s just what they can collaborate.
Counting uncollaborated reports, arrests by the Iranian regime total 1,135. Deaths total 184.
The Obama State Department: Iran is No. 1 State Sponsor of Terrorism
In addition to the moral questions involved with up to 184 peaceful demonstrators being killed by the regime, a new State Department report describes in harrowing detail how what’s going on today in Iran is most definitely America’s business.
As Claudia Rosett outlined in Forbes, the report states flatly that Iran in 2008 "remained the most active state sponsor of terrorism."
What’s more, President Obama’s State Department reports that "Iran’s involvement in the planning and financial support of terrorist attacks throughout the Middle East, Europe and Central Asia had a direct impact on international efforts to promote peace, threatened economic stability in the Gulf, and undermined the growth of democracy."
If there is a terrorist group out there killing innocent civilians and U.S. troops, Iran is supporting, training and arming it. Hamas. Hezbollah. The Taliban. The terrorists who plant IEDs to kill U.S. troops and innocent bystanders in Iraq. All of these mass murderers are clients of the Iranian regime.
While President Obama Has Equivocated, the Congress Has Shown Leadership
All of that, and we haven’t even got to the nuclear weapons Iran is busy acquiring.
While President Obama equivocated about the protests in Iran last week, Congress showed real leadership.
By an overwhelming bipartisan vote, both the House and the Senate passed resolutions expressing clear support for “all Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties, and rule of law.”
Republicans and Democrats alike condemned the Iranian government’s violence in the streets and suppression of independent communication through cutting off internet and cell phone access.
Congratulations to Democrats and Republicans in Congress for standing up for American values and standing up for the Iranian people.
If President Obama Believes In the Power of American Ideas, This Is His Moment
President Obama has talked a lot, in the campaign and as President, of improving America’s status in the world so that the force of our example and of our ideas can advance our interests.
If President Obama believes what he says — if he believes in the power of American ideas — then this is his moment.
If he believes in peace in the Middle East, this is his chance to influence one of the main obstacles to peace.
If he believes in protecting innocent lives from terrorists, this is his chance to change the course of the number one state sponsor of terrorism.
If he believes that freedom, democracy and equal rights for women are universal rights, this is his chance to do more than mouth the words.
The protestors on the Iranian streets are not inconvenient obstacles to a policy of engagement with the Iranian dictatorship. They are an opportunity to advance both American ideals and American interests.
For our principles as well as our security, President Obama should seize this opportunity.
Newt’s Quick Links
• If you enjoyed the hardcover edition of my book, Real Change, I want to tell you about the new Obama-paperback edition of Real Change, which is now available for purchase. It has all the innovative ideas and practical solutions of the first edition of Real Change, plus a new forward updating the book for the Obama Administration. So if you liked the first edition, tell a friend or a family member about Real Change: The Fight For America’s Future.
• My daughter Jackie talked to CNN’s Campbell Brown about the impact a deadline had on finishing our new book, 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours. You can read all about it here.
• Speaker Pelosi wants the House to vote on the Waxman-Markey national energy tax this Friday before members leave for recess. To call attention to the devastating economic costs of the national energy tax, American Solutions produced a television ad, entitled “The Breaking Point,” that is airing this week. Click here to watch the new ad.