Ahmadinejad vs. the Obama effect
With the re-election of its controversial incumbent Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinijad, Iran has been thrown into turmoil as hundreds of thousands of opposition supporters rally against what they claim to be a rigged election—even causing the government to go so far as to shut down some communications channels in hopes of averting coordinated protests. Meanwhile, the international community, including the United States, remains circumspect in hopes of allowing the Iranian electorate to resolve the dispute on its own terms. Yet despite the White House’s perceived restraint, in an article by Sharon Schmickle published today on the website, MinnPost.com, William O. Beeman, author of, The Great Satan vs. the Mad Mullahs: How the United States and Iran Demonize Each Other, is quoted extensively arguing that Obama’s conciliatory diplomatic stance towards the Middle East has, in fact, had a powerful effect on the political climate of Iran. Here’s a quick excerpt:
Even while personal liberties were sorely lacking in Iran, there was deep pride in a tradition of reasonably fair elections. Iranians often touted their process as superior to that in Egypt where elections are presumed to be phony.
“So to risk that reputation would require some extreme sense of danger,” Beeman said.
Obama poses that danger in his own way.
After he riveted the Muslim world with a major speech this month in Cairo, a pro-Western coalition won Lebanon’s elections. Many analysts credited Obama with making a difference there and predicted that Ahmadinejad could be vulnerable to the Obama effect.
For his part, Obama seemed to invite the comparison. Speaking from the White House Rose Garden on Iran’s election day, he said: “Ultimately, the election is for the Iranians to decide, but just as has been true in Lebanon, what can be true in Iran as well is that you’re seeing people looking at new possibilities.”