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Pro-con on Obama's handling of Iran

Republicans want President Obama to spell out the punishments if the Iranian regime doesn't change its ways. But in declining to rattle the saber, the president shows admirable restraint. The fact is that the slightest inflection in Obama's voice will be used by the regime in Iran to brand its opposition as American puppets, as agents of the Great Satan, and give them the cover needed to continue clubbing the dissenters to the ground. Complicating all this is that Israel might attack, to knock down the growing Iranian nuclear capacity that threatens Israel. Such an attack might destabilize the Iranian regime, but it would certainly provide another anti-American rallying cry for radical Islamists throughout the world, at a time when Obama is reaching out to Muslim nations. Saber-rattling won't serve American interests now. What's required is restraint and clear-headedness. And that's what Obama is delivering. — John Kass, Chicago Tribune

In his press conference Tuesday, the president finally condemned the outrages in Iran. But he also kept alive the idea that the current Iranian regime could be a fruitful negotiation partner, despite what has already happened in that country. He wouldn't even cancel plans to invite Iranian officials to Fourth of July barbecues at American embassies. That amounts to tacit approval of the bloodshed and fraud that we've already seen and acceptance of the ultimate triumph of the regime. And it won't work. For years, conservatives or, if you prefer, neoconservatives have said that the Iranian regime can't be negotiated with. None of the evidence was sufficient for Obama, in part because anything associated with President Bush's freedom agenda was deemed absurd and ideologically rigid. Well, Bush is gone. Obama has extended his hand. And the regime is supplying fresh evidence of the absurdity of his approach. All that's left for Obama now is to abandon his own ideological rigidity and start over. — Jonah Goldberg, Tribune Media Services