Former Obama Advisers Tell Trump to ‘Be Quiet’ on Iran Protests

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Pete Souza/The White House via Getty Images

Several key advisers to former President Barack Obama have poured scorn on President Donald Trump’s support for the protests sweeping Iran in recent days.

In 2009, when the “Green Revolution” threatened the Iranian regime, Obama and his administration refrained from supporting the protests. Obama said that “we respect Iranian sovereignty and want to avoid the United States being the issue inside of Iran.”

That weak response, and the administration’s general lack of support for the demonstrators, allowed the regime to consolidate power.

Obama was more concerned with preserving the possibility of an eventual deal on Iran’s nuclear program than he was in removing the Iranian regime as a strategic threat or in standing up for human rights. Critics charge that Obama missed a golden opportunity.

President Trump has taken the opposite approach, vigorously supporting the protests and criticizing the regime:

But the Obama brain trust rejects Trump’s approach, and apparently believes the approach Obama took in 2009 remains the best one.

Former National Security Advisor Susan Rice tweeted a New York Times op-ed by former Obama aide Philip Gordon, “How Can Trump Help Iran’s Protesters? Be Quiet.” The author argues that supporting the protests, and taking steps to end the Iran nuclear deal, will only help the regime to delegitimize its internal opponents.

Rice offered no other statement of solidarity for the demonstrators.

Rob Malley, who had once been dropped from the Obama campaign for meeting with the Hamas terrorist group but found his way back into the administration in negotiations with Iran, also praised Gordon’s op-ed.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was in office during the Green Revolution, was more supportive of the protesters, but said merely that she “hope[d]” the Iranian regime would listen to them.

Her successor, John Kerry, endorsed Obama’s 2009 position once more, stating that “it’s an Iranian moment and not anyone else’s.”

Former Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes, who ran an “echo chamber” of administration-friendly pundits to sell the Iran deal to the American public, criticized American observers who believed the U.S. should encourage the protests:

His friend Tommy Vietor, a former spokesman for the National Security Council, used the protests to take a snarky shot at the president:

And former UN Ambassador Samantha Power used the opportunity to criticize President Trump’s immigration policy:

In his 2014 book Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates admitted that although he had been persuaded at the time “that too powerful an American voice on behalf of the protesters might provide ammunition for the regime,” he later regretted it: “In retrospect, I think we could and should have done more, at least rhetorically.” (328)

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named to Forward’s 50 “most influential” Jews in 2017. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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