Got an email from MoveOn.org last night asking me to, “as an individual,” show my support for the protesters in Iran. The email included a bunch of links: one to a sign I can print out to put in my window, another to a picture for a Facebook page, a third to sign a petition, etc.*
The email got me thinking: why’s MoveOn getting involved in Iranian politics? And what are we supposed to make of the fact that nearly every American–from the blowhard Republicans in Congress to the ever-caving President Obama and now to our most famous liberal netrooters–are so willing to take a stand in solidarity with the Iranian folks?
First, we can figure that it must be a really easy political position to take. (And it is: who isn’t on the side of the protesters getting stomped by thugs?) We know why the Republicans are mouthing off–to put pressure on Obama and make him look weak. We know why Obama decided to take a stand yesterday–because he didn’t want to look weak. (Succumbing to Republican pressure, which, of course, made him look weak.) So what of MoveOn?
Cynically, my first thought was that they must not be getting enough traction among their base about health care and energy reform, the subject of the previous twelve emails I received from them. As noted in an earlier post, they’ve dropped the Iraq War from their agenda, and they’ve remained silent on the war in Afghanistan. So they couldn’t resist the urge to seize–alas, opportunistically–on the cause of the week. (Supporting Iranian protesters is much sexier than strengthening the “clean energy jobs bill.”) Also a red flag: MoveOn waited until Obama took a stand before they decided to take a stand.
What I’d like to know from MoveOn is this: if you’re so willing to support Iranian democracy, well, what’s your position on democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq? Do you think what we’re doing in Afghanistan is democratic? How about in Baghdad? How about those air strikes in Pakistan? Where are the outcries for solidarity with innocent Afghans and Iraqis? (The people in two countries where we actually have quite a deal of influence over due to our military presence. Two countries, which, not coincidentally, border Iran to the west and east.) What’s the deal with cherry-picking Iran as the foreign affairs issue to weigh in on?
Excuse me for being a bit curmudgeonly. It just doesn’t sit well with me when our politico-media-blogo establishment complex all start to take strident positions on issues that a)they’re probably clueless about and b) are way too easy to take. In that earlier post, I mentioned that MoveOn was so willing to forget the Iraq War because they had no skin in the game. (In 2006 and 2007 and 2008, they were demanding that we “Bring The Troops Home Now.” I didn’t realize by “now” they actually meant 2015 and by “home” they meant Kabul.) In the end, Iraq was just a political issue for them, one that was easily abandoned once Obama took charge. With Iran, they’re again taking a position about American foreign policy that doesn’t cost them a thing, and reaping the benefits of firing up their network of supporters. At the same time, they’re avoiding other pressing U.S. foreign policy issues where their political clout could actually have real impact.
*(Actually, MoveOn says in the email that it’s not MoveOn, per say, that wants you to support the protesters. They’re helping out another organization called Avaaz–“a global MoveOn-type organization”–to get 1 million signatures worldwide to deliver a message to “Iran’s regime.” MoveOn doesn’t want to give the impression that the American government is meddling.)