‘Dis­turb­ing Am­biva­lence’? Try Truth-Telling

The Washington Post - - Letters To The Editor -

Af­ter read­ing Charles Krauthamme­r’s un­seemly smear of Pres­i­dent Obama, say­ing he has a “dis­turb­ing am­biva­lence” to­ward the United States [“Obama Hov­ers From on High,” op-ed, June 12], I couldn’t help but re­call Sa­muel John­son’s ad­mo­ni­tion that “pa­tri­o­tism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” When you parse all of Mr. Krauthamme­r’s rhetoric about Mr. Obama’s re­cent visit to pre­dom­i­nantly Mus­lim coun­tries, what you are left with is the ac­cu­sa­tion that Mr. Obama wasn’t suf­fi­ciently re­flex­ively proAmer­i­can.

Mr. Obama’s pen­chant for “even­hand­ed­ness” and “moral equiv­a­len­cies” might scare Mr. Krauthamme­r, but they are not ex­am­ples of am­biva­lence. They are clearly rhetor­i­cal de­vices used by Mr. Obama to boldly say to ad­ver­saries: The past is not pro­logue; let’s move for­ward.

More im­por­tant, it is Mr. Obama’s dec­la­ra­tion that the United States is strong and ma­ture enough to base its claim to lead­er­ship on the un­var­nished truth. VIN­CENT E. COBB


Charles Krauthamme­r’s as­ser­tion that “a CIA rent-a-mob in a coup 56 years ago does not bal­ance the hostage-tak­ings, throat-slit­tings, ter­ror bomb­ings and wan­ton slaugh­ters per­pe­trated for 30 years by a thug regime in Tehran” is ap­palling in its bias and ig­no­rance.

Call­ing it a “CIA rent-a-mob” fools no one. It was an il­le­gal and wretched col­lab­o­ra­tion of the Eisen­hower ad­min­is­tra­tion and the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment to bring down Iran’s demo­crat­i­cally elected pres­i­dent, Mo­ham­mad Mos­sadegh, and in­stall Mo­ham­mad Reza Pahlavi as the shah to pro­tect Bri­tish Petroleum’s con­trol of Ira­nian oil pro­duc­tion.

How many Ira­ni­ans were killed in that coup? In the 38 long, dark years of the shah’s regime, how many more suf­fered in the shah’s tor­ture cham­bers? How much has that de­lay in democ­racy cost Iran, and now the world? Who can say what good the ed­u­cated Mr. Mos­sadegh might have done for Iran, what po­si­tion Iran might hold in the coun­cil of na­tions to­day or what re­la­tion­ship we could have forged with that na­tion that once loved Amer­ica?

The wrongs per­pe­trated by those who over­threw the shah and by sub­se­quent Ira­nian ad­min­is­tra­tions per­haps match the ter­ror vis­ited on Iran by the United States in my life­time, and that of Mr. Krauthamme­r, I don’t know. But min­i­miz­ing ei­ther di­min­ishes the hu­man­ity on both sides. LEE D. WEIMER


Charles Krauthamme­r’s cri­tique of Pres­i­dent Obama’s “tran­scul­tural even­hand­ed­ness” in­cor­rectly rests on the as­sump­tion of moral equiv­a­lences. Why must Pres­i­dent Obama, in com­par­ing our re­spec­tive na­tional mis­takes, au­to­mat­i­cally be giv­ing them “equal weight”? The fact is, he’s not, and dif­fer­ent lis­ten­ers will weigh equiv­a­lences as each sees fit.

For ex­am­ple, Mr. Krauthamme­r claims that “a CIA rent-a-mob in a coup 56 years ago does not bal­ance the hostage-tak­ings, throat-slit­tings, ter­ror bomb­ings and wan­ton slaugh­ters per­pe­trated for 30 years by a thug regime in Tehran.” Yet our 1953 over­throw of Iran’s demo­crat­i­cally elected pres­i­dent — which con­ser­va­tives never cease to un­der­es­ti­mate — “was the first fun­da­men­tal step,” ac­cord­ing to his­to­rian James A. Bill, “in the even­tual rup­ture of Ira­ni­anAmer­i­can re­la­tions in the revo­lu­tion of 1978-79.”

That’s the revo­lu­tion that in­stalled the very thug regime Mr. Krauthamme­r de­cries; the “cheap con­de­scen­sion” and “will­ing­ness to dis­tort his­tory for po­lit­i­cal ef­fect” rest squarely with him, not with Mr. Obama.

TOM OR­ANGE North Ridgeville, Ohio


Shah Mo­ham­mad Reza Pahlavi, left, leav­ing power in 1979, while Grand Ay­a­tol­lah Ruhol­lah Khome­ini re­turned to Iran.


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