Biden fails Iranians who seek better governance. Mahsa Amini, 22, was slain by Iran’s morality police over her head covering, sparking recent demonstrations. Iran covered up the murder, inflaming tensions further.
You may have expected the president to be outraged by Amini’s killing, given the Biden presidency’s rhetoric on LGBT rights and police brutality. Authorities killed this young woman because she resisted a sexist geriatric tyranny.
Unfortunately, President Joe Biden has undermined American credibility. The Biden administration is mimicking the Obama administration’s weak attitude to the 2009 Green Revolution rallies in Iran by doing the bare minimum to convince media allies it is doing anything. The government is spinelessly repeating former President Obama’s logic that a nuclear pact with Iran must override all other issues, including this horror and popular rebellion.
Outside the UN I challenged the Biden administration not to deal with a regime that kills women: “We aren’t asking Biden to bring democracy for us. People of Iran are brave enough themselves. We don’t want them to save us, we want them to stop saving the regime.” #MahsaAmini pic.twitter.com/THTQNgPpTz
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) September 21, 2022
Chuck Todd wondered Sunday if Biden was repeating Obama’s mistakes. Jake Sullivan defended the current administration’s and Obama’s policies. Sullivan claimed that the Obama administration’s failure to give even basic verbal support in 2009 was not due to fear of provoking Tehran but because “it would undermine the protesters, not aid them.”
It’s a poor explanation that arrogantly assumes the 2009 protests were legitimate because of American inaction, not Iranian rage. Iran isn’t humble. Its foreign minister told Al-Monitor: “Some [protest] photos are fraudulent. You have to respond to riots in a powerful, mighty way.”
Sullivan said Biden’s speech to the UN last week showed “that the U.S. stands with the citizens of Iran, the women of Iran.”
Biden’s actual statements were less booming: “We stand with the brave citizens and the brave women of Iran who right now are demonstrating to secure their basic rights.”
But that was all. Biden didn’t criticize Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s dictatorship. He didn’t commit support to Iran’s people or ask other countries to join them. He made no moral distinction between democracy and Iran’s Islamic theocracy. As in 2009, Biden’s silence is more telling than his words.
Sullivan kept going. “We have taken tangible steps to sanction the morality police who caused this young woman’s death,” he said. “And we’ve taken steps to make it easier for the Iranian people to get access to the internet and to communicate with one another and with the world.”
This sounds fantastic, but it’s useless. No high-ranking Iranian official who ordered repression has been punished during this crisis. Biden’s efforts to help Iranians gain access to the internet pale in comparison to the vastly stronger Trump administration’s covert operations campaign. Some portions of this secret initiative were terminated by the Biden presidency when Biden assumed office out of fear that Iran may not want to negotiate about nuclear weapons.
Biden’s reaction is virtue-signaling. Were Biden genuine about siding with “the brave citizens and the brave women of Iran who right now are marching to secure their basic rights,” he would not be so afraid about the future of his preliminary nuclear agreement as to avoid taking significantly more strong action. He should cease nuclear talks. He should sanction Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Hossein Salami. He will impose further financial restrictions to show Khamenei that his fortune is tied to the Iranian people’s treatment.
People who demand fundamental rights are brutalized. If Biden supported the Iranian people, he’d do more.