Just Foreign Policy, June 18, 2009
President Obama has faced pressure from some members of Congress and voices in the media to take sides in the dispute in Iran over the recent Presidential election. Senator John McCain said that "[the President] should speak out that this was a corrupt, flawed sham of an election."  Senator Lindsey Graham has been reported as saying that the situation in Iran "clearly deserves a more forceful response" from the President. 
However, taking sides in Iran's internal election dispute would be dangerously counterproductive. As President Obama said Tuesday, "... it's not productive, given the history of U.S.-Iranian relations, to be seen as meddling -- the U.S. President meddling in Iranian elections."  Moreover, any appearance of meddling in Iran's election dispute could undermine the President's commitment to pursue sustained diplomatic engagement with the government of Iran, which he has pledged to continue regardless of the election result.
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Contrary to the popular argument, it is unlikely that taking the side of the opposition would be helpful to the demonstrators. The Iranian government is already attempting to tie the political unrest in Iran to Western influences.  Given our countries' fraught history, taking the side of the opposition would most likely not serve the interests of the Iranian people, but would instead be used by hard-liners in Iran to paint the demonstrators as American proxies.
As Senator Richard Lugar wisely stated Tuesday, "When popular revolutions occur, they come really from the people. They are generated from people power within the country. For us to become heavily involved in the election at this point is to give the clergy an opportunity to have an enemy and to use us, really, to retain their power."
You can encourage President Obama to continue his careful assessment of Iran by following the link below:
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1. McCain on NBC's Today show, video, June 16, 2009. http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/26184891/vp/18424808#31383483
2. "GOP tries to find its pitch on Iran," Manu Raju, POLITICO, June 17, 2009. http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0609/23827.html
3. "Remarks by President Obama and the President Lee Myung-Bak of the Republic of Korea in Joint Press Availability", Transcript, June 16, 2009. http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Remarks-by-President-Obama-and-President-Lee-of-the-Republic-of-Korea-in-Joint-Press-Availability/
4. "Iran accuses US of interference in election feud", Associated Press, June 17, 2009. http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/top/world/6484606.html
5. "Lugar: hands off Iran, for now," CBS Video, June 16, 2009. http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2009/06/16/politics/politicalhotsheet/entry5091165.shtml