Why Are American "Liberals" Failing Iranian Protesters?

Jun 2014
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The recent eruption of protests in Iran has, predictably, split Washington in two, between those counseling silence and those urging vocal support. Both sides might think their approach best aids the protesters, but this debate about rhetoric of what the U.S. government should or shouldn’t say furthers neither the aspirations of the Iranian people nor the interests of the United States.

Proponents of silence worry that U.S. support will delegitimize the protests. But such concerns, when dealing with a totalitarian and mendacious regime, are misplaced. Dismissing opponents as foreign puppets is the oldest trick in the autocrat’s playbook.

Iran would and does accuse Washington of fomenting protests regardless of what U.S. policymakers say. While the Obama administration assiduously sought to stay out of a 2009 wave of protests that swept Iran, but Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s personal website nevertheless alleges they were a U.S. conspiracy. Similarly, Iran has already lodged complaints against the United States for inciting the current unrest.

But Iranians are not deciding the legitimacy of the protests, and whether they themselves should take part or not, on the basis of government propaganda. If they already harbor grievances against the regime, they are unlikely to be swayed by its pronouncements. Concern over lies that Tehran tells should hardly drive U.S. policy, rather encouraging and enabling Iranians to take their political destiny into their own hands should.

Yet, the most vocal U.S. supporters of the protests often save most of their rhetorical fire, and substantive recommendations, for attacking the regime. Denouncing the corruption and brutality of the Iranian leadership, however satisfying, is not an effective means of building momentum behind the demonstrations. The Iranian people do not need the United States to tell them of Tehran’s sins. They have lived those travails themselves.

U.S. policymakers must be careful not to mistake the protesters as the manifestation of their own desires for regime change in Iran. Their reasons for rising up, their demands, and their hopes are their own. Just as lack of U.S. support can condemn political movements to failure, as in Syria in 2011, overeagerness to assume mass mobilizations must share U.S. values and objectives can cast countries into chaos, as in Egypt in 2011.

To best support this fledgling political movement in Iran, the United States should provide it the tools to sustain itself in the face of suppression and ultimately grow into a democratic opposition. Statements of solidarity are important. The punitive measures against Iran’s leadership that have been suggested, such as the use of Global Magnitsky Act sanctions, can play a role in trying to dissuade the regime from further violence against protesters.

But what the demonstrators in Iran really need is what makes any political opposition successful: organizational skills, communications abilities, access to information and funding. Unfortunately, rhetorical pronouncements are easier and sanctions are cheaper than this sort of concrete assistance, funding for which has been repeatedly slashed.


In 2006, President George W. Bush’s administration called for an Iran Democracy Fund. Its purpose, according to then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, would be to “reach Iranian people through websites and modern technology… support nongovernmental organizations that can function in Iran, and… improve and increase our educational and cultural outreach to the people of Iran.” Bush’s initial request of $75 million was reduced by Congress to $66 million. Ironically, some of the greatest proponents of supporting Iranian democracy now, disparaged the program then.

The Obama administration, in 2009, changed the name of the program to the Near East Regional Democracy Fund and cut funding further, to about $30 million annually for most of its eight years in office. Those funds were never specifically earmarked for democracy assistance in Iran and could be used more broadly, but nevertheless, the program did important, if limited work, especially supporting internet freedom and offshore training of activists.

Now, the Trump administration seeks to slash Near East Regional Democracy Fund’s budget in half, to $15 million. It would also reduce spending on Voice of America’s Persian News Network by $1 million, on Radio Farda by $300,000, and cut nearly 40 percent from the budget of the National Endowment for Democracy, a reduction that the Obama administration also pursued, but Congress rejected.

To provide concrete support to those in Iran who seek liberty, justice and accountability, President Trump should call for the return of the Iran Democracy Fund and Congress should immediately pass emergency appropriations at the level originally requested by President Bush. These should be specifically allocated to providing unfettered access to the internet and communications channels, broadcasting in Persian, and training and supporting civil society organizations inside Iran.

If the United States wants to support the Iranian people’s aspirations to a better life, it should put its money where its mouth is.
American support for the Iranian protests must go beyond rhetoric | TheHill

I have a theory as to why American "liberals" do not line up solidly behind those in the ME who seek to advance the cause of human rights for people living in Muslim nations: because it would force them to reexamine their brainless support for the terrorists who incessantly assault Israel, and take all the fun out of making ideological housepets out of the worst terrorists on the planet today.

It is a sad, sad, sad day in America when the citizens of other nations rise up and demand dignity and freedom, and that plea falls on deaf "liberal" ears here.

HELP THESE PEOPLE. I don't know whether we can donate directly to them. Probably not. But AT A MINIMUM, demand the U.S. impose trade sanctions on Iran for its oppression of the protesters.

No matter WHAT your political views might be, this is unequivocally the right thing to do.

Your thoughts?
 
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Ian Jeffrey

Council Hall
Mar 2013
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I am an American liberal, and I approve (most of) this message.
 
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Jun 2006
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There’s a website / YouTube account \ cottage industry called Rebel Media. It was created by a few Canadian gentlemen of infamy, Ezra Levant and one of the original proud boys. Their target audience is American.

In the days after the protests started in Iran their material went 100% to this. It happened overnight. Why is the left supporting Iran? Why aren’t liberals helping Iranians? Why does the liberal media support the Iranian killing of protesters.

They seriously flooded the internet with this. A hundred variations.


The thing is. Who are they talking about? They never named a single person except Obama in US versions and Trudeau in local ones. Who the hell are they talking about? Who supports Iran? Who is this person who is a liberal leftist and opposes the protests?

Literally nobody.

There is literally no person of any ideology or political stripe or colour or creed or anything in the western world that doesn’t hate the thug theocrats in Iran.

But all of a sudden, like a light switch, the internet was full of this sudden flood of stuff saying “why aren’t liberals against it”.

Who’s even going to answer? It’s not addressed to anyone.

Is the new governor of Alabama responsible for sending troops to Iran and he’s balking? In the US the Rebublicans have congress and the exec. In Canada we don’t even have the means to do something if we wanted to.

It’s ridiculous.

Who are these Marxist leftist Muslim traitors that aren’t doing something?

What’s their names?
 

boontito

Future Staff
Jan 2008
109,177
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Most Insidious
There’s a website / YouTube account \ cottage industry called Rebel Media. It was created by a few Canadian gentlemen of infamy, Ezra Levant and one of the original proud boys. Their target audience is American.

In the days after the protests started in Iran their material went 100% to this. It happened overnight. Why is the left supporting Iran? Why aren’t liberals helping Iranians? Why does the liberal media support the Iranian killing of protesters.

They seriously flooded the internet with this. A hundred variations.


The thing is. Who are they talking about? They never named a single person except Obama in US versions and Trudeau in local ones. Who the hell are they talking about? Who supports Iran? Who is this person who is a liberal leftist and opposes the protests?

Literally nobody.

There is literally no person of any ideology or political stripe or colour or creed or anything in the western world that doesn’t hate the thug theocrats in Iran.

But all of a sudden, like a light switch, the internet was full of this sudden flood of stuff saying “why aren’t liberals against it”.

Who’s even going to answer? It’s not addressed to anyone.

Is the new governor of Alabama responsible for sending troops to Iran and he’s balking? In the US the Rebublicans have congress and the exec. In Canada we don’t even have the means to do something if we wanted to.

It’s ridiculous.

Who are these Marxist leftist Muslim traitors that aren’t doing something?

What’s their names?
Is this really a thing? Are there Americans supporting the Iranian government and not supporting the protesters? You'd think it'd be easy to show it.
 

Rasselas

Moderator
Feb 2010
72,597
50,292
USA




American support for the Iranian protests must go beyond rhetoric | TheHill

I have a theory as to why American "liberals" do not line up solidly behind those in the ME who seek to advance the cause of human rights for people living in Muslim nations: because it would force them to reexamine their brainless support for the terrorists who incessantly assault Israel, and take all the fun out of making ideological housepets out of the worst terrorists on the planet today.

It is a sad, sad, sad day in America when the citizens of other nations rise up and demand dignity and freedom, and that plea falls on deaf "liberal" ears here.

HELP THESE PEOPLE. I don't know whether we can donate directly to them. Probably not. But AT A MINIMUM, demand the U.S. impose trade sanctions on Iran for its oppression of the protesters.

No matter WHAT your political views might be, this is unequivocally the right thing to do.

Your thoughts?
First thought: What does any of what you've quoted have to do with "liberals?" It's about what the US government should do, and liberals don't control the US government at the moment.

We've had sanctions on Iran and we've opposed them militarily since the early 1980's. Tell me what that's done for Iranian people? The best we did for ourselves in that region was persuading Iran and Iraq to fight a bloody, horrible war that drained them both. Great for us--horrible for Iranians.

What are these protests about? So far, the list appears to be: 1) Government budgets were made public for the first time and they show how much Iran spends on its adventures abroad (Syria, Lebanon, Yemen), it's well-to-do religious institutions, and the Revolutionary Guard. 2) While Iran gets lifted sanctions (thank you, liberals) and a windfall of money they had forfeited back in 1980, its people get a reduction in welfare for the poor, rising energy prices, and hefty new taxes on everything people with money want to do--like travel outside their country or register automobiles.

The protestors in Iran are not just the urban upper-middle class--they are everyone. Why? Because the average Iranian household has lost about 15% of its living standard in the last decade. They've learned that their government is pursuing terrible policies that aggrandize their religious zealots while beggaring ordinary people. Tell me how that's somehow different from the concerns of American liberals about their own country?
 

Rasselas

Moderator
Feb 2010
72,597
50,292
USA
As to the central point in your OP, Madeline, it's based on the idea that people are susceptible to shame when their ideas in one area don't match their ideas in another. You should know enough about the history and psychology of humans in groups to know this is not true. People invent all sorts of ways of thinking that advantage them in the moment. It's not a "liberal" or "conservative" thing. It's a human thing.
 
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