Our guest blogger is Peter Juul, a Research Associate at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
President Obama’s measured response to Iran’s pro-democracy demonstrations has driven conservatives crazy. With the notable exceptions of Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) and former secretary of state Henry Kissinger, many conservatives are rending their garments and gnashing their teeth at the president’s cautious response. Robert Kagan went so far as to accuse President Obama of “siding with the Iranian regime”; House Republicans compared themselves to Iranian protestors; and a number of conservatives have spoken as if Ronald Reagan’s rhetoric alone –- and not Mikhail Gorbachev’s “new thinking” or the human rights activism of Eastern European dissidents –- was responsible for ending communist rule in Eastern Europe.
All of this overheated grandstanding over to the Iranian protests has exposed a deeply silly strain of contemporary conservativism. Stunts like comparing their vacuous Twittering to the use of technology to organize demonstrations by Iranian protesters or calling President Obama a “cream puff” are juvenile to most observers.
But the height of conservative inanity during the protests has been the almost narcissistic focus on American action -– in particular being “steadfast” (in what?) and assuming that Iranian protesters “await just a word that America is on their side.” Because obviously people can’t act unless they know where the United States stands in bright, screaming neon letters. This particular silliness is tied in with the previously mentioned misreading of the end of the Cold War, in which conservatives believe that Reagan’s speechifying caused the end of communism.
What the particular silliness that is the conservative response to the Iranian protests reveals is the more fundamental moral and intellectual bankruptcy of conservative foreign policy thinking. There is apparently little more to it than sloganeering, where somehow the utterance of words by the United States magically transforms their sentiments into action. Rather than thinking through what the United States’ interests, ideals, and objectives are and how best to obtain them, conservatives have decided that it’s enough to simply shout what we want at the top of our lungs and demand the world bend to our wishes. It’s as though conservative foreign policy thinking amounts to nothing more than the applied power of positive thinking. Read more