“the big lie”

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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36 Responses

  1. I tend to believe that saying anything, even the most innocuous of things, amounts to some sort of meddling. I’ve no interesting in siding with the establishment in Iran, but I think the claim, however hyperbolized, is true insofar as anything spoken by the president is open to being “claimed” by the reformists in the streets as even tepid support for their cause.Report

  2. Roque Nuevo says:

    Of course you “commend his restraint.” You voted for him. His “restraint” is completely self-centered, as always, however. It’s not supposed to help Iranians or anyone else. It’s supposed to keep his vacuous “engagement” policy on track. As Totten notes, though, this has been irrevocably derailed by now.

    But for the same money, Obama could have registered a real objection/condemnation instead of his vague displeasure. No matter what, he gets slapped down by the mullahs so why not go for broke?

    What a depressing spectacle our president is making for the world!Report

  3. E.D. Kain says:

    Oh bullshit Roque. You equate the scenario in which propaganda is used with one in which the President actually did meddle and pretend that the outcome is the same. Of course the big difference is that one is the truth and one is not, and that actually does matter. It may not matter to liars bent on a neoconservative agenda, and it may not matter to mullahs bent on retaining power, but it matters to the rest of the world.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to E.D. Kain says:

      See? The “doing nothing” seems better and better every day, doesn’t it?Report

      • E.D. Kain in reply to Jaybird says:

        Yes I do, jaybird – however doesn’t your absolutism require that something be done in order to move toward a system in which there is less planning and management? Isn’t that the irony of small government or libertarianism in general?Report

        • Jaybird in reply to E.D. Kain says:

          Something must be done to get us to stop doing things?

          Is just “quit doing things” not an option, at this point? We need to put together a task force, an ethics panel, and have hearings for three years before we can implement a “cease doing stuff” action plan?Report

          • E.D. Kain in reply to Jaybird says:

            Glibness aside – Yes. Can you explain how just “not doing things anymore” is supposed work exactly?Report

            • Jaybird in reply to E.D. Kain says:

              Let’s look at, say, Lawrence v. Texas.

              We agree that busting people for, ahem, relations is a violation of the rights of the people in question… right? When the supreme court said “Stop Busting People For, Ahem, Relations”, what needed to be done? What task forces needed to be set up? What government agencies needed to be created to make sure that cops could no longer bust people for, ahem, relations?

              The cops just stopped busting people for, ahem, relations.

              Now you may say that we required a Supreme Court to get to that point… and I’d like to point out that the Supreme Court predated these (silly) laws. The creation of a police force whose job it was to arrest people for, among other things, ahem, relations predated those (silly) laws too.

              What, exactly, needed to be erected in order to just stop busting two dudes from engaging in a little, ahem, relations?Report

              • E.D. Kain in reply to Jaybird says:

                A long-fought legal battle for one. And things like that are easy, fairly cut and dry when you think about it. Now try that with government subsidies of say, corn…Report

              • Jaybird in reply to E.D. Kain says:

                Once the battle was over and done… what needed to be set up? What had to be done? What ducks needed to be in a row to make sure that the cops ceased to bust dudes, ahem, relating?Report

  4. ChrisWWW says:

    Roque Nuevo,
    The best way to help the Iranians would be to keep quiet and not lend any credibility to the claim that we’re helping Mousavi or his supporters.

    Think back to the elections in the Palestinian territories, the PLO and Abbas were hampered – not helped – by US/Israeli support. Which, of course, is only logical in a region where the US is despised precisely for incessant meddling.

    Aside from all that, it’s none of our d*mn business who leads Iran, and there’s good reason to think Mousavi isn’t as great as we’d like to believe.Report

  5. Roque Nuevo says:

    Where is the scenario in which the president “actually did meddle?” I don’t get it. Don’t tell me you’re rehashing the CIA-sponsored coup in 1953 again!

    Give yourself a big pat on the back for “the truth” and for calling the neocons “liars” and lumping them in with the mullahs. But I just don’t see what I’ve said here that justifies such venom.

    When you read this, you can see what I’m talking about. It’s not “meddling” to simply support the democratic principle of counting votes and making the votes count:

    The President yesterday denounced the “extent of the fraud” and the “shocking” and “brutal” response of the Iranian regime to public demonstrations in Tehran these past four days.

    “These elections are an atrocity,” he said. “If [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad had made such progress since the last elections, if he won two-thirds of the vote, why such violence?” —

    “The President” here is Nicolas Sarkozy, not your lightworker.Report

    • E.D. Kain in reply to Roque Nuevo says:


      I called bullshit – is that really “venomous” to you? And yes, hawks are hawks. Both sides would like nothing better than to be able to have hawks across the water.Report

      • Roque Nuevo in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        I still don’t get it. Who’s talking about “hawks?” Did I suggest that Obama should be declaring war? Are you deliberately misreading me?

        Like I said, Obama’s statements tend to support the status quo ante in Iran, for his own reasons. Why is this not “meddling” as much as calling the regime on its brutality would be? Are you accusing Sarkozy and Kouchner of “meddling” as well just because their statements are strong where Obama’s is weak?

        The bigger picture is that this isn’t even about elections anymore, where one could agree with Chris WWW (above). There’s a legitimacy crisis now in Iran. I say that it’s the president’s duty to give them whatever kind of push he can, while the pushing is still good. Aren’t they still our sworn enemies and the world’s greatest state sponsor of terrorism?Report

        • Jon H in reply to Roque Nuevo says:

          “There’s a legitimacy crisis now in Iran. I say that it’s the president’s duty to give them whatever kind of push he can”

          The push will go in the wrong direction. I don’t even know how you think it’s supposed to work. Magic? How? What’s the mechanism? Why do you think enough Iranians want Obama’s support and approval for it to help rather than hamper the opposition?

          Seems to be, Obama telling Iran what to do would be like a husband getting relationship advice from a guy his wife had an affair with.

          I get the feeling people like you simply feel left out. I wonder if you’re afraid Iran will have what you wanted for Iraq but never got, and all without our ‘help’.Report

  6. mike farmer says:

    “The best way to help the Iranians would be to keep quiet and not lend any credibility to the claim that we’re helping Mousavi or his supporters.”

    How will this help the Iranian people?

    “Think back to the elections in the Palestinian territories, the PLO and Abbas were hampered – not helped – by US/Israeli support.”


  7. mike farmer says:

    How were they hampered, I meant.Report

    • Jon H in reply to mike farmer says:

      “How will this help the Iranian people?”

      How will our speaking help them? Really, what’s the mechanism? What do you expect to happen? What leverage do we have? Do you really think Obama’s opinion alone would stop the violence? It’s not like we can cut trade with Iran, that’s already blocked. Do you think the Iranians who support Ahmedinejad are going to flip their support to the opposition because Obama says something? These are Ahmedinejad supporters! Why would they care what the US government says?

      Do you understand, really, what the US represents to Iran? You clearly do not.

      This may come as a shock to you, but the United States government is not a global Oprah Winfrey, and world politics is not a big book club, where the US pronounces a pick and everyone happily follows suit.

      Really, try to process this: Lots of people in the world don’t like our government, and don’t trust our government.Report

  8. ChrisWWW says:

    Where is the scenario in which the president “actually did meddle?” I don’t get it.
    Well, there was the little thing where our previous Prez. called them evil, compared them to the Nazis, conducted a covert war against their regime, and pushed for economic sanctions against them. But I was talking about meddling in the broader Middle East, not just Iran. I assume you can come up with your own examples beyond what I’ve listed.

    mike farmer,
    If you want Mousavi and his supporters to prevail, then it would be bad to have Iranian popular opinion turn sharply against them because of an alliance with US . That’s how doing nothing is more help than doing something.

    As for the PLO, I remember reading at the time – in articles like this – that Hamas won the elections because the PLO were seen as US/Israeli collaborators. The PLO were receiving monetary and military support from the US/Israel, meanwhile the situation for the average Palestinian did not improve in any meaningful way.

    This is all pretty basic logic. The enemy of my enemy is my friend…Report

    • Roque Nuevo in reply to ChrisWWW says:

      So just giving an opinion is called “meddling” these days? Do we have to keep quiet about these events to get on your good side? As for the sanctions and the covert operations against Iran, well… they’re our sworn enemies and have been attacking us since 1979. If the president wasn’t authorizing covert action against them, I’d be demanding that he did. Or, should we just take their attacks lying down along with not giving our opinions? What kind of world do you live in?Report

      • Jon H in reply to Roque Nuevo says:

        ” they’re our sworn enemies and have been attacking us since 1979″

        And our pet dictator tortured them from 1953 to 1979. Looks to me like they got it worse.Report

  9. mike farmer says:

    ChrisWWW — more like opinion and conjecture than logic.Report

  10. mike farmer says:

    Other countries know where we stand, as a whole, so speaking out has little effect on their attitudes or actions. Remain silent — speak out — it doesn’t matter.Report

  11. ChrisWWW says:

    You’ve already mentioned the coup, so why now try to pretend history started in 1979? But in any case, I’m glad you agree with my original point that we’ve meddled in their affairs. At the very least, we’ve given the average Iranian reason to dislike or mistrust us.

    mike farmer,
    If there is no upside to what would ultimately be empty rhetoric (unless you’d like Obama to intervene militarily on behalf of Mousavi), but a potentially destructive downside, then why not keep quiet?Report

  12. mike farmer says:

    If the rhetoric is not empty, but rather a statement of support, and since it doesn’t make any difference regarding the response from irrational thugs whether we remain silent or speak up, then why not speak up?Report

  13. mike farmer says:

    No, I don’t think the US should intervene militarily, but that’s not what we were talking about, is it?Report

  14. ChrisWWW says:

    I don’t agree that it’d make no difference. It’d make a negative difference, which is what I’ve been arguing since I joined this thread.

    On the other hand, you’re arguing that it’d make no difference either way, so why not side with caution and hold our empty rhetorical gestures?Report

  15. mike farmer says:

    Because I don’t think it will make a difference how the irrational thugs frame it. I think showing support does at least two things — it shows we still have passion for freedom and it validates any movement toward freedom, regardless how imperfect. It helps us as much as them to speak up for freedom — it reminds us of what we’re losing. When I say “we” should give support, I mean us, not necessarily government — I mean the movement below the governments involved. You are right, most likely, that our government should be quiet, especially when they aren’t suited to speak to freedom.Report

  16. ChrisWWW says:

    I’m glad we agree that government intervention could easily turn out to be counterproductive.
    But I do have to take issue with your assertion that the government of Iran is irrational. I haven’t yet seen the evidence to prove this, making it a sort of “big lie” itself.

    Developing nuclear power/weapons makes sense in terms of deterrence and their need to look strong to a domestic political audience. Public animosity toward Israel makes perfect sense from a domestic political point of view. Supporting Hezbollah makes at least as much sense as our support for the Mujahideen in Afghanistan among other examples. Since the founding of their nation, they’ve only been involved in one real large scale war, and that one was started by Iraq.Report

    • Jon H in reply to ChrisWWW says:

      “Developing nuclear power/weapons makes sense in terms of deterrence and their need to look strong to a domestic political audience.”

      Developing nuclear power also makes sense in an environment where their fossil fuel resources are going to become more and more valuable over time. Why waste it generating electricity domestically (and probably at below-market subsidized prices) when it can be sold on the world markets and raise revenue for the country?Report

  17. Roque Nuevo says:

    The Weekly StandardIf the Protesters Don’t Want U.S. Support, Why Are Their Signs in English? I know that the protesters in Iran don’t want the United States to interfere with their efforts in any way. I know this because John Kerry says it’s true, and because every Democrat in government and the media is telling us that the people of Iran want the United States to keep quiet and not become, in President Obama’s words, a “political football” in the standoff between the regime and the protesters. (Never mind reports of crowds gathered outside police stations pleading, “Obama, please help us, they are killing our young children.”) But there is one fact that doesn’t jibe with the left’s absolute certainty that this administration’s silence is precisely what the protesters being beaten in the streets of Tehran want most from America — the pictures. All the pictures show protesters holding signs in…English. To what end? Why would they want to galvanize support for their movement in the outside world if the only thing they want from the outside world is silence?

    Michael GoldfarbReport

    • ChrisWWW in reply to Roque Nuevo says:

      Newsflash to Mr. Goldfarb: We are not the only country that can speak or read English. English, first because of British commercial dominance and then American commercial dominance, is the lingua franca for much of the world. It is also perfectly reasonable for them to want support from these other English speaking and reading countries and not want help from the United States due to the bad blood between our nations.Report

      • Roque Nuevo in reply to ChrisWWW says:

        ChrisWWW’s response is so “perfectly reasonable” that it’s embarrassing even to me. Amazing how he can tie his logic into such pretzel shapes so as to support his lightworker president’s latest. Does he imagine that Iranians want support from New Zealand, Canada, or India and not the US?


        In response to a question of what the Iranian people want the U.S. and American people to do, his response was as follows:

        The most essential need of young Iranians is to be recognized by US government. They need them not to accept the results and do not talk to A.N government as an official, approved one. They need help by sending true information. All the medias are under arrest or close control. Help them have the information.

        They only try to show the fraud to the world. Help them please. You can not imagine the level of brutality we saw these two awful days.

        1:05 update: According to our private phone conversations with people in Tehran, hundreds of parents have gathered by a police station in Yousef Abad, now known as Seyyed Jamal Aldin Asad Abadi, with their hands raised to the sky saying “Obama, please help us, they are killing our young children.” They were gathering there because their kids are missing and they were trying to find out where they are.


  18. ChrisWWW says:

    Yes, I don’t believe non-interference is the right course of action. I’m just defending Obama no matter what he does. Like when I wrote this, this and this. If you want examples beyond just June, you’re welcome to go through my archives.Report