‘Disturbing Ambivalence’? Try Truth-Telling
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.