Trump finally gets one right (in that Trumpy way)
Donald Trump tweeted out the following message to the Iranian people protesting (yet again) against their murderous Islamic regime:
To the brave, long-suffering people of Iran: I’ve stood with you since the beginning of my Presidency, and my Administration will continue to stand with you. We are following your protests closely, and are inspired by your courage.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2020
This message, which was also tweeted in Farsi, strikes a very suitable tone. America’s position, in this and analogous cases around the world, need not have any suggestion of military intervention or nation-building. All that is needed — desperately needed by those risking everything for their freedom in the face of tyrannical governments — is the confidence of having the moral support of the nation that, to all oppressed people on the planet in this age, represents the idea of liberty.
The tweet was clearly not written by Trump himself, as its tone and grammatical structure are far from his natural style (illiterate iconoclasm) or moral tenor (narcissistic self-congratulations), although I am amused to note that the ghost writer included a couple of superfluous capitalizations for a hint of authenticity. But that’s fine; Trump must have signed off on this message delivered from his own account, so he deserves the credit.
Of course, we cannot help but observe that as usual, Trump’s position is merely a stance of convenience, in this case because backing the protesters is useful in his ongoing conflict with the Iranian regime. The same has not been true with regard to the Hong Kong protesters, fighting for freedom against an even more repressive regime. In that case, Trump, due to his fear of China and his desire for a trade deal, sold the protesters down the river by playing moral equivalency games.
And then there is this little tidbit, from a few weeks ago, regarding anti-regime protests in Iran itself:
A month ago:
“Does the United States support these protestors in Iran?”
“I don’t want comment on that, but the answer is no.”pic.twitter.com/DiRldD723w
— Morten Øverbye (@morten) January 11, 2020
A few days after that straightforward denial of support, Trump, apparently having been fed his favorite flavor of pabulum by his “advisors,” turned around and claimed that his administration had always supported the protesters — which he can do without flinching because he knows his cultists do not care what he says on any given day, so long as He is saying it.
So while it is fair to say he has struck the right tone today, it is also necessary, as a matter of simple honesty, to remember that “the right tone” is purely an accidental result of petty self-interest (or advisory intervention) in Trump’s case, and that he would (and probably will) strike exactly the opposite note on another day, if his pragmatic aims happened to lie elsewhere. As usual, there is no principle here, no moral courage, no decency. Only pragmatism, although in this rare instance Trump’s perceived interests luckily coincide with the decent thing to do.
So let’s give him that much.