don’t just do something, sit there


Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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10 Responses

  1. Avatar Thomas G. says:

    I don’t think you need to worry about the Obama administration doing anything rash to show support for the opposition. The foreign policy team is realistic enough to understand that in the end they will still be dealing with the same Theocracy that is in charge today, regardless of the outcome. Making public gestures, or pronouncements in support of the opposition is only counter productive to future dialogue.

    There’s an old adage in politics that when your opponent is struggling with a scandal the best thing you can do is keep your mouth shut, or risk deflecting attention away from the scandal. I think the same applies here.Report

  2. ED, taking Buchanan at face value here is a mistake – exactly the mistake that Daniel warns against. Buchanan says “The dilemma for America is that the theocracy defines itself and grounds its claim to leadership through its unyielding resistance to the Great Satan — the United States — and to Israel.” In fact, the theocracy grounds itself in Islam and in Iran. The US is an issue, certainly, and resistance to western influence is a lovely tool for defining “other’, which Buchanan should well recognize, but here all Buchanan has done is to affirm American Exceptionalism – it’s always about us, isn’t it?

    Except it isn’t.


    • Jake –

      Here’s what you’re missing. What Buchanan is saying is that the regime in Tehran uses us as a propaganda tool by which it can define itself favorably to the Iranian people. He is not saying that it is all about us, but rather that if we do involve ourselves in this mess Tehran will be able to manipulate that to its advantage. That says nothing at all about whether or not this has a thing to do with the West in any way – only that if we open our big mouths and make it so, they’ll spin it to their advantage. What Daniel warns against is seeing all of this through an American prism – but the two theories are not mutually exclusive. The one speaks to perspective, the other to consequence.Report

  3. ED, on one level I agree with you – Buchanan is saying stay OUT OF THIS MESS!!! My point is that the language he uses displays his own version of exceptionalism, the very thing he argues against in this particular instance. “Defines itself” and “grounds its claim” are phrases that are ALL about America.

    Being on the right side of an issue is good. Being on the right side of an issue with a warped understanding, less so, but still good.


  4. Avatar greginak says:

    it really creates dissonance when a racist sleaze like Buchanan says something so obviously sensible. Aside from the fact that he is correct, we actually cannot do anything to effect the situation there. Making grand pronouncements would be for our own consumption. It might make the good people standing up in the streets feel better, but it wouldn’t change the situation. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t root for the fall of Achmenasneezegaurd.Report

  5. Avatar Kyle says:

    love the title, miss the green. Was that your doing, E.D.?

    Also, I completely agree with your point about the reporting. While it’s questionable just how receptive even opposition supporters would be to any level of American interference/condemnation, I think it’s pretty clear they at least want to be heard. In Iran and outside of Tehran.Report

  6. Avatar mike farmer says:

    One day we will all realize that it doesn’t matter what our president or government does, whether we do something, or something other, or nothing – the irrationality inherent in this country, and other countries just as irrational, will portray us negatively for their own purposes. To be honest, though, I agree — it would probably be good if Obama says nothing, but this is not about Obama or our government. The important movement here is below the Theocracy of Iran or the statism of the US, it’s a human movement in a technological, connected age we can all speak to, and many in Iran will hear — what I say is go for freedom with everything available and with all the courage possible — don’t fight for just a different, more friendly form of tyranny. As we take our freedom for granted, show us what it means to have to fight for it when it’s lost.Report

  7. Avatar Jaybird says:

    When I was a kid, we did the whole “so-and-so found a cocoon” thing for science class. The cocoon never opened, having been excessively handled (it was the 80’s, we were allowed to kill stuff inadvertently) and that was one thing that the teacher explained to us… I seem to recall her also explaining that, if we saw the cocoon opening in the woods, we might see the butterfly really, really struggling to get out but we shouldn’t do *ANYTHING* to help… because the fight to emerge from the chrysalis was a necessary one for the butterfly and taking it away would result in the butterfly’s death despite our best intentions.

    Seeing what’s going on in Iran makes me remember that.

    Seeing what’s going on in Iraq makes me remember that too.Report

  8. Avatar Dan Summers says:

    Someone please pass this post along to John McCain.Report