Joe Klein is right. I’m trying to think of the right analogy to use that would explain the United States relationship with Iran’s reformers. It’s kind of like a father who, through the mistreatment of his children, is court-ordered to have nothing to do with them. And then that father sees that his children are in need of help but is prohibited from offering a helping hand.
Friends and acquaintances, seeing the situation, encourage the father to take some action, but the father knows he is powerless to get involved.
The reason I choose this analogy is not because the Iranian reformers are children and Americans are some paternalistic figures that loom over them. But, that is how so many Americans look at the world, that the analogy makes sense. John McCain has such an ingrained neo-colonialist mindset, that you have to talk to him in terms he can understand. He’s the father who beat his children and forfeited the right even to treat them well in the future.
America can quietly root for the reformers from a distance, while ruing their prior mistakes that make it impossible to be trusted to help.
With Iran, our credibility is shot.