The World Needs to Stand in Solidarity with Iran
Jun 24, 2009 by Dieumeme Noelliste | 0 Comments
While Iran finds itself in the throes of a brutal clampdown unleashed upon its citizens by the theocratic regime in response to the people’s protest against electoral irregularities, a debate is raging in this county over the kind of response that the United States government should make to the crisis.
On the one hand, determined to avoid the charge of meddling in Iran’s internal affairs and thereby giving a pretext to the regime for further brutal action, the Obama administration has opted for a cautious and measured response to the post election’s developments. In a calm tone, President Obama appealed to the regime to respect the rights of the Iranian people, reminding it that the world is watching.
On the other hand, others downplay the importance of avoiding external interference, arguing that the situation calls for a firmer stance on behalf of the protesters than the posture taken by our President. In their view, in the face of such ruthless repression of peaceful dissent, and in light of the cry of the embattled people to the outside world for help, no response will do but a robust denunciation of the regime and a clear upholding of the people’s cause.
It takes little effort to understand, and indeed identify with, those who are clamoring for a stronger voice in defense of freedom’s cause on the part of a people for whom liberty is a fundamental right and a non-negotiable value. The horrible sight of a young and defenseless woman shot dead in the prime of life for the sole reason of being present at a peaceful demonstration arouses righteous indignation in the breast of decent humans and a longing for judgment toward the perpetrators of such a heinous act. Indeed, in our moral outrage, we wish that we had the power to right such blatant wrong and offensive injustice with a snap of the finger.
Ah, herein lies our challenge. Justified though our sense of outrage may be, we are very limited in what we can do to influence the course of events in that distant land. Given the current state of relations between the United States and the government of Iran, there seems to be little that the U.S. can do unilaterally to steer their conduct in a desirable direction. Our leveraging power does not seem great. Indeed, if we don’t exercise wisdom and prudence in the way we express our feeling of moral revulsion and our sympathy for the protesters, we can contribute to the worsening of their plight and the crushing of any revolutionary seed which may be being sown now.
This being said, my argument is not for silence in the face of atrocities or a deaf ear in the face of a desperate cry for help. My point, rather, is this: in the current conjuncture, the voice of the U.S. alone can accomplish little. Since this is the case, what is needed is the joint voice of freedom loving people the world over to be added to the cry of the freedom seeking people of Iran. And this is my view, is what President Obama is to facilitate. In the present circumstances, his leadership role should not consist primarily in making solitary pronouncements—cautious or tough. Rather, it lies, first and foremost, in enlisting others to add their voice to ours so that together the world may send as collective and loud a message to Iran as possible.
Such a message would be a message of support and solidarity to those who are being oppressed, and a challenge to the oppressive regime to abide by the ideals of justice and human dignity which the faith it vouchsafes upholds.
President Obama did well to remind Tehran that the world is watching. But, it doesn’t suffice for the world to adopt just a passive stance. Watching alone has little chance of strengthening the hands of the oppressed, or discouraging giving the harmful deeds of the oppressor. The Jewish Holocaust and the Rwandan massacre are sobering and vivid reminders of how ineffective a passive posture can be. Having watched and seen the world must at least speak in unison and where possible, act.