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VDH on Iran, and the President Swings and Misses, Again; and “Physics for Future Presidents”

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Here is the transcript of my interview with Victor Davis Hanson on Iran from yesterday’s broadcast. In it VDH notes the president’s willingness to intercede in affairs of Israel and to push our ally on all sorts of matters but the president’s unwillingness to do anything remotely close to that level of pressure vis-a-vis the gangster regime in Iran. I also asked him the “WWWD?” question: What would “w” do?” His answer:

HH: I asked the question last hour, I’ll ask it of you, what WWWD, what would W. do? What do you think George Bush would have done by now?

VDH: Well, he would have given a statement like he did in Iraq, and like he said about Iran earlier. He would have said our hearts are with people who yearn for universal freedom, and then say it’s not predicated on any particular culture. It’s something we all share. And he would have come out, I think, pretty strongly. But you know, once you’ve apologized to a dictatorship, and you’ve said that we don’t meddle in the affairs of a dictatorship, and we’re sorry for what happened in the past, then you’ve sort of self-censored yourself. And that’s what Obama’s done, that he’s already predicated that he wouldn’t make, exercise moral judgment, and he wouldn’t meddle. He only meddles in democracies. So if it’s a democracy like Iraq, or it’s Uribe in Colombia, or if it’s Israel, then he will meddle and dictate and tell them what he thinks of them, but not an autocracy.

The president’s statement on CNBC yesterday was another missed opportunity to condemn the murder of the dissidents and the rule of the mullahs generally. Here’s what the president said:

Well, I think first of all, it’s important to understand that although there is amazing ferment taking place in Iran, that the difference between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi in terms of their actual policies may not be as great as has been advertised. Either way, we were going to be dealing with an Iranian regime that has historically been hostile to the United States, that has caused some problems in the neighborhood and is pursuing nuclear weapons. And so we’ve got long-term interests in having them not weaponize nuclear power and stop funding organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas. And that would be true whoever came out on top in this election.

The second thing that I think’s important to recognize is that the easiest way for reactionary forces inside Iran to crush reformers is to say it’s the US that is encouraging those reformers. So what I’ve said is, `Look, it’s up to the Iranian people to make a decision. We are not meddling.’ And, you know, ultimately the question that the leadership in Iran has to answer is their own credibility in the eyes of the Iranian people. And when you’ve got 100,000 people who are out on the streets peacefully protesting, and they’re having to be scattered through violence and gunshots, what that tells me is the Iranian people are not convinced of the legitimacy of the election. And my hope is that the regime responds not with violence, but with a recognition that the universal principles of peaceful expression and democracy are ones that should be affirmed. Am I optimistic that that will happen? You know, I take a wait-and-see approach. Either way, it’s important for the United States to engage in the tough diplomacy around those permanent security concerns that we have-nuclear weapons, funding of terrorism. That’s not going to go away, and I think it’s important for us to make sure that we’ve reached out.

The president seems to discount the possibility for real, deep, enduring change in a regime rocked by the sort of turmoil that has shaken Iran for the past five days. This “It doesn’t really matter to us who wins” approach is a deeply disappointing abandonment of the millions who are risking their lives to try and bring about change that doesn’t leave Iran isolated and rushing towards confrontation with the West.

Revolution could still come to Iran, but if it does, it will be no thanks to the thumb-twiddling that has marked the White House’s “actions” since Friday.

I will spend the first hour of today’s program on the latest developments from Iran before turning to a conversation with Berkeley professor and MacArthur Foundation award winner Dr. Richard Muller, author of Physics for Future Presidents. With the climate change bill under consideration in the Congress, everyone needs to read the common sense approach to global warming (and many other science-related public policy issues) treated in the book.

Physics for Future Presidents: The Science Behind the Headlines


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