A contrast between the responses of John McCain and Barack Obama to election turmoil in Iran reminds us that, at least in the U.S., the better candidate won. McCain wants America to forget about dialogue and opt for sanctions and condemnation:
McCain: I hope that we will act and, by the way, Senator Lieberman has a proposal that we put sanctions on countries that sell gasoline to Iran. We ought to think about passing that legislation... Well, initial reports by, quote, administration officials, are that they say that they’re not going to change their policy of dialogue, et cetera, et cetera. I think they should be condemned, and it’s obvious that this was a rigged election and depriving the people of their democratic rights. We are for human rights all over the world.
Demonstrating more knowledge of history and international relations, President Obama is wary of displays of disapproval that are ultimately counterproductive:
Obama: It’s not productive, given the history of U.S.-Iranian relations, to be seen as meddling, the U.S. president meddling in Iranian elections. … I do believe that something has happened in Iran where there is, there is a questioning of the kinds of antagonistic postures towards the international community that have taken place in the past, and that there are people that want to see greater openness and greater debate and want to see greater democracy. (h/t Think Progress)
Backing Obama's position, Senator Richard Lugar (R) of Indiana stated, "...our position is to allow the Iranians to work out their situation... For us to become heavily involved in the election at this point is to give the clergy an opportunity to have an enemy...and to use us, really, to retain their power." Former Bush Ambassador to Iran Nicholas Burns said, “President Ahmadinejad would like nothing better than to see a very aggressive series of statements by the United States that would try to put the U.S. in the center of this.”
Also supporting Obama's stance is Trita Parsi, founder of the National Iranian American Council: “The framing that Ahmadinejad is presenting is one in which essentially the whole [opposition] is a Western media conspiracy...the administration is doing exactly the right thing. They’re not rushing in and they’re not playing favorites. They might prefer the democratic process to be respected, but that’s different than [supporting a] specific faction."