Wretchard, in a blog comment:
Marcos was a nothing; not to be spoken of in the same league as Ahmadinejad. But returning to the subject of engagement, it’s useful to note that most of the hard work involved in overthrowing a dictator will be done by the locals. Only on occasion will the ‘international community’ arrive deus ex machina. But for those on the inside it’s important to know that someone is on your side. Even if you never see or hear a thing, the idea that somewhere there are people on your side counts for much.
For me at least, the difference in atmospherics between the conservative movement and the Left in the last twenty years can be summed up in their attitudes toward what they say. Conservatives are often far less sophisticated in their argumentation and more simple-minded in their thinking than the Left. This has made many conservatives child-like in their sincerity, something which people in the arts never cease to parody. No subtlety, they say; people living in a world of black and white. The kind of people who say grace at a Burger King. But sometimes that kind of clarity is necessary. After decades of listening to the Left I have yet to hear them say the word “freedom” with sincerity. It has always been spelled P-O-W-E-R. Consequently their servings of freedom come in the form of huge, eyeless institutional bureaucracies; a vast list of do’s and don’ts; and the proliferation of a commissariate. I know it isn’t ‘cool’ to listen to people who believe things because the Bible told them so; but for my part that’s infinitely cooler than listening to people so practiced in sophistry that their Bible tells them so and not so at one and the same time.
And in the particular case of Iran, my own emotional curiosity is drawn toward one question alone. Does the current President in his most private moments truly and sincerely wish for the downfall of the regime in Teheran? Because even if he were only to wish it, without acting on it; without initiating a single program to overthrow the Ayatollahs, I believe the message would shine through.
Over at Ann Althouse’s there’s a poll on who is the bigger partisan hack: Glenn Reynolds or Andrew Sullivan. Last I looked Sullivan was winning the hack race by 94 % to 6%. And the reason apparently, is largely Sullivan’s credulity of Obama’s position on gay marriage and his contorted attempts to reconcile his belief in President Obama in despite of the plain facts. Sullivan’s problem was that he was listening to Obama’s words. Other people were clever enough to listen in on the second channel — the one that sends signals about who he is. Clever enough to deduce the truth from coded signals because in certain circles, engagement always means being able to say all things to all men. People learn to read the tea leaves eventually. I think that some Iranians actually know how to listen in on the second channel and they are. They want to know if the current administration is “on their side”. Maybe that’s all the help they want; all the help they need. But are they going to get it?
Neoneocon has this to add in a post of her own:
And it’s one of the reasons that Obama’s tepid words on Iran fall so flat. Listening in on the second channel, we sense absolutely no conviction behind them and no commitment to anything other than keeping the options open for negotiating with Ahmadinejad.
And, looking at the domestic picture, it is at least part of the explanation of why some of us have distrusted Obama from the start, while others are (and remain) starry-eyed.
Neoneocon highlights another excellent comment here.