A former student of mine, Justin Palmer, who once compared my leadership style to that of Joseph Stalin and who is now serving with the Marines in Iraq, sent me this response (which he allowed me to post):
While I’m a big fan of the “impassioned plea for political
freedom”, I also agree that it was a good idea for Prez Obama to initially hold
off on commenting. However, in the traditions of TR and Woodrow Wilson, I do
believe it is America’s duty to at least say something.
Even if the protesters are successful (and I hope they are), Iran
was aggressively pursuing nuclear weapons under previous reformist
President Khatami. Don’t fall into the trap of assuming that if democracy
succeeds, Iranians will turn into dope-smoking hippies. Remember how
aggressive the US democracy was in the 19th Century (slavery, colonialism, genocide against the Indians, plus we invaded both Canada and Mexico).
Democracy will only get you so far. To be fair if I were running Iran, with
hostile aggressive states all around me, I would also be aggressively