"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." -- Theodore Roosevelt

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Iran's Government is not Moderate

And so it begins...

Check out this article from the AP: "Analysis: Hint of moderation in American's release."

From the article:

"The judicial reversal that led to the release of an Iranian-American from prison in Tehran on Monday could now offer hints of moderation by Iran's ruling Islamic clerics — making room for possible overtures by the Obama administration."

And later:

"It [Roxana Saberi's release] appears to signal to Washington a sense of stability and willingness to move forward on possible exchanges after the elections — and perhaps seek ways to ease Iran's standoff with the West over its nuclear program.

"White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the Obama administration insists that Saberi was wrongly accused, 'but we welcome this humanitarian gesture.'

"The decision also gives Ahmadinejad a chance to soften his image before facing reformist challengers at the polls."

Fortunately the article does mention some of Ahmadinejad's pragmatic reasons for releasing Saberi. "The release of Roxana Saberi may also seek to boost hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's goodwill credentials before next month's re-election challenge from reformers." But that's not what the headline says, nor is it what the Obama Administration wants to hear. So we're going to hear a lot about the beginnings of openness and trust with Iran, while of course giving all the credit possible to Obama.

As I've said previously, before we start talking about our newest and bestest friends in the government of Iran, let's not forget a few facts. The government of Iran regularly hangs men for the crime of homosexuality, regularly stones men and women to death for the crime of adultery, regularly beats hundreds of government protesters, regularly arrests and beats members of the press and bloggers. Recently Iranian aircraft attacked Iraqi villages. The government of Iran has vowed to wipe Israel from the face of the earth, actively supports terrorist organizations (including, but not limited to, Hizbullah and the pirates of Somalia) and is currently developing nuclear weapons.

The pressures brought to bear (with little mainstream enthusiasm by the Western media) to release Saberi coincided with Iranian government's desire to seek concessions from the West. Want to lay odds on if that was coincidence or opportunism?

While we are relieved at the release of Roxana Saberi, but the fact remains that she was unjustly arrested, accused, and convicted in a kangaroo court to begin all this. And the fact remains that Evin prison continues to be populated by political prisoners, almost all of whom are not fortunate enough to be recognized by the international press.

The release of Roxana Saberi should garner the Iranian government nothing. The release of Saberi is nothing more than the hollow atonement of one, solitary trespass-- a drop in the literal ocean of misdeeds the government of Iran has committed in the past and continues to perpetrate now. It should gain them no concessions, and should earn them no credibility. Only when the Iranian government ceases to bully and undermine both its Islamic neighbors and the country of Israel, only when the government of Iran stops the repression of its own people, will it deserve cooperation and recognition.

Yes, every journey begins with one step, but the release of Roxana Saberi is not the first step of Iran's reformation.

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