No Friend to Peace – by Lisa Daftari


The Nobel Committee’s decision last week to award its famous peace prize to President Barack Obama came as a surprise to his opponents and proponents alike. But perhaps no one was more surprised by the selection than the Iranian people, many of whom feel they were betrayed by the American president at a pivotal moment for their country.

In the wake of the disputed Iranian presidential election this June, Iranians waited patiently to see the Obama administration throw its support behind the dynamic opposition demonstrators who defied intimidation and brutal harassment by the regime to gather in the streets of Iran. The support never came. Now, Obama, having declined to take sides between the totalitarian government and its democratic opposition, has been given an international award intended to honor those who have made significant contributions to the cause of peace.

The poignancy of the June uprisings cannot be overemphasized. After 30 years of hesitating to utter a word about politics to friends, neighbors, and even family members who could turn out to be government informants, Iranians were finally united in their fight for freedom. Yet, they looked across the ocean, and found no friend on the other side. Naturally, Iranians feel let down. What they wanted from the American government was moral support, a declaration of solidarity with the people of Iran. What they got was silence.

If the Obama administration had supported the Iranian people, it could have accomplished two major goals. First, it could have gained a crucial ally in the disenchanted Iranian people and brought strong pressure to bear on their repressive government. By supporting the Iranian struggle for freedom, moreover, the U.S. would have taken a stand for democracy and human rights, and backed the Iranian people in a fight for their lives and their future. Instead, the Obama administration did nothing.

The timing of the administration’s non-action could not have been worse. In failing to condemn Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s corrupt power grab, President Obama helped legitimize the hard-liner as the rightful Iranian leader – a slap in the face to the Iranian people. Instead of standing up against violence and injustice, the administration gave the Islamic regime the message that its crimes against innocent people can and will be overlooked.

All this is in keeping with the Obama administration’s plan to engage the Iranian regime in direct talks. But the strategy is problematic on several levels. If the regime knows that the Obama administration will accept talks without preconditions, it has no incentive to improve its intolerant stance against their people or to halt nuclear arms proliferation. Thus, the most likely outcome of such talks would be to further bolster a regime that many Iranians consider illegitimate.

The Obama administration may have thought that its conciliatory stance would moderate the regime’s behavior. If so, it miscalculated. Already, the government has belittled Obama for receiving his Nobel Prize. According to Iran’s state-run Press TV, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said that the choice of Obama was “overly premature” and made in “haste.” Typically, Mottaki than launched a gratuitous attack on the United States and Israel, asserting that the right time for Obama to receive such an award would be when “occupation” forces are fully withdrawn from Iraq and Afghanistan and Palestinian rights are respected.

It is typical for the Islamic regime to shift focus on to others instead of acknowledging the plight of their own people. Yet only a month ago, a new chant that was heard in the streets of Iran during Quds Day, a day designed to contest Israel’s existence and to celebrate anti-Zionistic sentiment: “Neither Gaza nor Lebanon… My life is dedicated to Iran!” Contrary to the government propaganda, Iranians are not preoccupied with the fate of Palestinians or enthusiastic about the Iranian nuclear plan. They want freedom, and they want it now.

The democratic momentum in Iran is still alive. I recently met with a visiting Iranian protest leader. He described an energetic and optimistic environment of young Iranians fueled by anger and resentment toward their government and now, toward the un-supportive U.S. and the Islamic Republic’s accomplices—China and Russia. The local leaders of the “green revolution” in Iran have since become independent of Mir-Hossein Moussavi and no longer see him as a relevant figure in their objective.

The bottom line is that there is still a chance for the people of Iran to be successful and instrumental in bringing about political change. And there is still a chance for President Obama to earn the award that many Iranians believe he did not deserve.

  • tanstaafl

    The President should give the Nobel Prize to Neda.

  • MaryAnn

    The Iranian people will not get any support from Obama. He is not interested in freedom for any people, particularly the American people. He was awarded the prize because he agrees that America's status as the world's pre-eminent super power needs to end. He has chosen the path of decline for America, economically and militarily. May God help the Iranian people, because Obama certainly will not.

  • USMCSniper

    Let me see his peace efforts. First, Russia invades Georgia and Obama says: “Now is the time for Georgia and Russia to show restraint, and to avoid an escalation to full scale war. Georgia’s territorial integrity must be respected. All sides should enter into direct talks on behalf of stability in Georgia, and the United States, the United Nations Security Council, and the international community should fully support a peaceful resolution to this crisis.”

    When the Iranian youth came out to protest against Ahmadinejad, Obama mumbled and fumbled for something to say. He dragged it out long enough to send a loud and clear message to the Iranian regime, that America would not interfere no matter what they did. And the regime got the message. Obama cannot be held completely responsible for the ruthless crackdown that has followed, but some of the blood is certainly on his well manicured hands and sleeves.

    As the supposedly most cyber-aware fellow in the White House, Obama could have followed up on the British effort to provide social networking access to Iranian protesters, or on the one proposed by Senator John McCain, the man the media lambasted as tech-illiterate and out of touch. He could have imposed sanctions on Nokia for aiding in the repression of political dissidents and compelled them to make the plans for the technology they sold to Iran, public.

    Harnessing America’s status as a world power and his own supposed global goodwill, Obama could have organized an international diplomatic response to the crackdown. He could have made any nuclear negotiations contingent on the treatment of the protesters. He could have done a dozen things, but aside from making a series of fumbling statements when his inaction became humiliating even for his own party, Barack Hussein Obama did nothing.

    When the Honduras’ legislature and their supreme court acted to remove Marxist President Manuel Zelaya, a close ally of Chavez, who had fired the head of the army and attempted to stage a coup by violating the Constitution, Obama and his people have been working around the clock to restore Zelaya to power, even while stating that they want the whole thing to be “free from external influence and interference” (the hypocrisy on that line alone is almost enough to choke even Chavez himself). The question is why?

    But of course it’s not that difficult of a question. Not when you think like a coward. Not when you think like Obama.

  • fiftyfifty

    It doesn't matter when they gave it to Al Gore for the greatest lies on earth or about the earth and Jimmy Carter for reminding us the Jews do have dirty face's more lies so does it tell you anything you just have to be a lying lier to win Obama has been lying for how long?

  • josephwiess

    Thank you, oh cowardly Obama, for once again breaking our word and making us look like fence sitting morons. Why don't you get your lying thieving butt out of that office and go back to Acorn?

    I am tired of you breaking promises, breaking treaties, and siding with terrorists and tyrants.

  • Payam

    Very well said Lisa; I enjoyed reading this.

  • Name

    louts like obama give the US a reputation as a backstabber and untrustworthy.the US unfortunately is not known for loyalty or perseverance and they change bedfellows whenever the going gets rough. but in oblimeys case , he is a confused boy at heart who chose the silly revolutionary way on top of being influenced by both inflammatory black leaders on top of being a moslem at heart and in his deeper personality structure which crystalizes before age 4 for emotional matters and age 7 for rational thought processes

  • juannewman

    Check out an encouraging note for the people of Iran

  • democracyforall

    Ms. Daftari, while I could not agree more with your pro-democratic and pro-freedom stance for Iran, I believe that President Obama made the best decision by not meddling in the internal political battles of a sovereign nation. While, superficially, it may seem that the west turned a blind eye and President Obama missed a tremendous moment in the history of Iran, we must be mindful that the Iranians have presented no leader that is truly pro-democratic, pro-freedom or for real change in Iran. Mr. Moussavi and Mr. Ahmadinejad, regardless of their public shows, are cut from the same cloth and one is no better than the other. Not so long ago, right here in the United States we had a presidential election which brought into question our own democratic process. I did not see any other nations run into the US to show support for either side; likewise, the decision of who is the Iranian President is best left to the Iranian people. I do not deny grave violation of human rights in Iran. We must be mindful that the situation in Iran is nowhere near the genocide that plagued the Balkans in 90s. I think that this President is a lot smarter than starting another war under the guise of “democracy,” “fighting the terrorists,” and “weapons of mass destruction.” No, Iran is not the Vietnam of the 60s, it is not Afghanistan or Iraq. Iran is a powerful country that has close ties with many European nations, Russia and China as you aptly point out. President Obama is moving towards peace by letting the world know that this is a new day in America and that we are willing to sit at a table with our enemies, no strings attached, to move towards a more peaceful world. A more peaceful option than a unilateral military operation aimed at dethroning Ahmadinejad, having the world once again hate America, only to replace him with the same evil.