Sunday, June 14, 2009
Dear Mr. President: Help Them
Dear President Obama,
I don't like you. More accurately, I don't like what you're trying to do to my country. If I wanted socialized medicine, I'd move to Canada. If I wanted to buy a socialist car, I'd go to the junkyard and find a Yugo. If I wanted all of the above, plus kissing up to every tin-pot despot with a half-assed grievance, I'd move to France. I didn't vote for you (but to be fair, I wasn't very thrilled about the other guy, either), and I can't do much of anything to help you or hurt you, so given The Chicago Way, it's likely that you're going to ignore anything I might have to say. Fair enough.
But for all that, you are still the notional leader of what we used to call the Free World, and as such, you ought to pay attention when a people--any people--are caught up in a existential struggle for their freedom.
Such a struggle is going on in Iran right now. Despite what you or me or anyone else may have wanted to happen, people who have had far more than the standard ration of crap shoveled in their faces are putting their lives and their fortunes and their sacred honor on the line to gain some measure of what you and I have enjoyed for all of our own lives.
It is meet and right that we--by which I mean you--should help them.
This is your moment, Mr. President. I mean that sincerely. This is your signal opportunity to rise above the mundane, to discard the tired dogmas of State Departments past, to submit your own name among the great leaders of our times. You hold a great and potent seat, an office that derives its greatness not merely by the vast wealth and material might it commands, but also thanks to the hard-won light cast by the shining city on the hill. Yours is the power to cast that light into the dark places of this world, and to bathe in its brillance those who suffer without freedom's gifts.
Iran, the people of Iran, not the misbegotten maniacs of Khomeninism, yearns for that light. For all of their sakes, and for all of ours, do not repeat the cataclysmic errors of Jimmy Carter, and bend to the darkness of medieval Islam because of a lack of faith in your own country and in its ideals. Don't repeat the failures of (yes) Reagan and Bush and Clinton and Bush again, and turn away because the prospects are hard, or because the entrenched bureaucracy whispers its seductive song of the easy way, the stable way, the long road to hell paved with the best (and the most cowardly) of intentions.
Those people in the streets and in the homes and in the dismal prisons of the Basij thugs need you--you, personally--right now. You have won a lofty and puissant office, and perhaps more importantly, a mighty seat from which to mete justice on the rare occasions when the times are right to do so.
This is one of those times. Use your influence. Use your power. You have shown little reluctance to do so when it comes to matters within our borders, so take this opportunity to extend your reach beyond them. Use the brawny arms of our government and its instruments of national policy and fight the barbarians who have enslaved their own countrymen and worked to kill ours for the past three decades.
This is your moment, if you will but use the powers that you have, both external and covert, and help those people to be free.