Shadow Government

Can't we disinvite Iran to our Fourth of July parties?

By Christian Brose

This is clearly a bad idea: 

The United States said Monday its invitations were still standing for Iranian diplomats to attend July 4 celebrations at US embassies despite the crackdown on opposition supporters.

President Barack Obama's administration said earlier this month it would invite Iran to US embassy barbecues for the national holiday for the first time since the two nations severed relations following the 1979 Islamic revolution.

"There's no thought to rescinding the invitations to Iranian diplomats," State Department spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters.

"We have made a strategic decision to engage on a number of fronts with Iran," Kelly said. "We tried many years of isolation, and we're pursuing a different path now."

Really, State? Can't we celebrate America's birthday this year without members of a government that just a few days prior was killing its citizens in the streets?

H/T Spencer

Shadow Government

The "Obama effect" and other faith-based claims

By Christian Brose

I'm really getting tired of things like this:

But privately Obama advisers are crediting his Cairo speech for inspiring the protesters, especially the young ones, who are now posing the most direct challenge to the republic's Islamic authority in its 30-year history.

One senior administration official with experience in the Middle East said, "There clearly is in the region a sense of new possibilities," adding that "I was struck in the aftermath of the president's speech that there was a connection. It was very sweeping in terms of its reach."

This, too, from later in the same article:

Obama's advisers say the outreach may have contributed to the defeat in Lebanese elections a few days later of a coalition led by Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed party, that had been predicted to win. In recent days, administration officials have pointed to the Iranian demonstrations as further evidence of Obama's possible influence in the region.

As a rule, I try not to make claims for which there is no discernable evidence (extolling my own virtue aside). In part, this is because I remember how we in the last administration tried to make the argument that our rhetoric of freedom helped to explain the remarkable events of 2005: Mahmoud Abbas's election as Palestinian president, all those purple fingers in Iraq, the Cedar Revolution that ended Syria's occupation of Lebanon, and so on. In retrospect, it turns out it was about them, not us.

I'm not saying that Obama's speech in Cairo or his general approach to the Middle East did not "inspire" the outcome of Lebanon's election or "influence" the recent uprising in Iran. But I have not seen, read, or heard one fact that leads me to believe how this is the case, nor does the unnamed source above offer anything beyond faith-based assertions. So until some evidence is presented, I'll continue to hold my default position, which is that the behavior of Lebanese and Iranians -- and plenty of other peoples as well -- has virtually everything to do with their own personal, social, economic, and political circumstances and little at all to do with Barack Obama, George W. Bush, or the United States of America, no matter how much we wish it were so.