Egypt,  Iran

Two Revolutions: Two Reactions

Sohrab Ahmari (who sometimes blogs here) and Peter Kohanloo ask a good question:

[T]he momentous events in Cairo–and, indeed, the massive tsunami of people-power engulfing the entire Mideast–have put some quarters of the American left in a most awkward position. The regional democratic uprising currently underway has revealed the left’s intellectual inconsistency and hypocrisy regarding America’s role in the Muslim world.

Consider, for example, Just Foreign Policy, a fairly influential progressive pressure group ostensibly devoted to bringing U.S. foreign policy in line with “the values of a broad majority of Americans.” Since its founding, Just Foreign Policy has advanced the gamut of isolationist causes, including numerous campaigns advocating immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan (and Japan!) and a general drawdown in the War on Terror.

But faced with the sight of the Egyptians’ vibrant act of protest, the group felt compelled to all but demand American military intervention, calling on the president to “act to stop the violence.” Yet, at the height of the summer 2009 uprising in Iran, the same organization praised President Obama’s shamefully muted response in “neither endorsing the election result nor the opposition claim of fraud.” When it came to the clerical regime’s brutal crackdown, speaking out–let alone acting–in support of Iranian democrats was out of line.

Or take former Attorney General Ramsey Clark’s International Action Center, which released a statement saluting “the heroes of Tahrir Square.” The Center, however, remained curiously silent on the Green Movement, and warned President Obama to “refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of Iran.” Praising the Egyptian protestors seeking a better future is commendable. But did the Iranian heroes and heroines of Azadi Square not also deserve similar expressions of solidarity from American leaders and civil society? Apparently not.

The worst example of such hypocrisy came from the shrill, anti-war group Code Pink. As we speak, the organization is raising funds to provide Egyptian protestors with supplies. If only the Code Pink ladies had been this willing to assist Iranians seeking to have their votes count, as well. Alas, such an “intrusion” in Iranian politics might have disqualified Code Pink leaders from receiving a return invitation to Iran courtesy of the tyrants of Tehran, who had hosted the group’s founders as “citizen diplomats” in late 2008.

What explains the cognitive dissonance among many activists of the left? How can self-proclaimed “progressives” support one set of Muslim reformers, while so coldly abandoning another?

Similarly, the Stop the War Coalition is backing today’s Amnesty/TUC demonstration in support of Egyptian protestors, but refused to “take a position” in relation to the protests in Iran.

So, what’s the answer to Sohrab’s question? You can read his – he thinks it is post colonial guilt. That’s certainly the mood music that makes such an inconsistent response possible.

But it is more than that. Specifically, it is the consequence of a strong coalition having been formed by an active chunk of the far Left with Islamists and with the proxies of tyrannical regimes such as Iran. That alliance has some very powerful voices in the Guardian, the Indie and New Statesman, and so helps set the tone of the centre Left. It is essentially unchallenged by any counter-coalition to speak of.

As long as this is so, you can be sure that this phenomenon will continue.

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