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June 18th, 2009
10:14 AM ET

Ex-hostage: Do not interfere with Iran

Moorhead Kennedy, a former American hostage in Iran, tells CNN the U.S. is better off not intefering in Iranian affairs right now.

Moorhead Kennedy, a former American hostage in Iran, tells CNN the U.S. is better off not intefering in Iranian affairs right now.

A man with unique insight into the events that are playing out in Iran is Moorhead Kennedy. He was the acting head of the United States’ Embassy's economic section in Tehran when it was overrun by student protesters in 1979.

Kennedy was one of the 52 Americans held hostage for 444 days in that standoff. He wasn't released until January 20th, 1981 when President Reagan was inaugurated. Kennedy spoke to John Roberts on CNN’s “American Morning” Thursday.

John Roberts: Do you see any parallels between what we’re seeing on the streets of Tehran now and what happened in 1979?

Moorhead Kennedy: Well, I think the biggest parallel is that at least some of the reaction against us in '79 was because...of past interference in Iranian affairs. And I think that there seems to, be from a lot of talk going around, that we should do something…about this election problem in Iran. It's the attitude that we have sometimes about Iran, a rather colonial attitude that has always been part of our problem with that country. And so I think if I had any conclusion to draw, we would have been much better off not interfering in Iran then and I think we're going to be much better off not interfering in Iranian affairs now.

Roberts: Now, you did say in an interview with the Daily Beast, “It's very counter-productive to interfere in someone else's election... I think the best thing the U.S. can do is shut up.” I ran your quote past Senator John McCain who is urging a more vocal response by the Obama administration. And he said yesterday, “We're not interfering in taking the side of the opposition, we're seeking, as we have throughout the world, a free and fair election.” Do you agree with what the senator said?

Kennedy: No, I don't agree because I don't see it's any business of ours to seek elections, fair elections, particularly in a sensitive area like Iran. John Quincy Adams said, “We don't go around seeking monsters to destroy.” And I think that that is their problem. It's something they've got to work out. And I think the United States, particularly in view of our past record of interference, it's much better for us to sit back, obviously express hope that there will be no violence, sort of general things of that nature, but don't be seen to interfere because we don't like the present president of Iran and we might like to have someone else in that job.

Roberts: Already the interior minister is trying to make this the fault of western countries. He’s out there on the streets giving many interviews saying this is all because the West is interfering in our electoral process. They’re putting pressure on us. They're trying to institute these policies of reform. They’re basically meddling in what we're doing. So, he's already trying to draw the United States in. Do you think it is prudent for this White House to take the standoffish approach that it has for fear of potentially getting drawn into this conflict?

Kennedy: It's not the fear of being drawn into a conflict. It's expressing our respect for a sovereign state that we do not interfere in the internal affairs of another country. And I think part of the Iranian deep, deep resentment of the United States is that we have never treated them with proper respect. And, of course, that's been furthered by some of the episodes in our relationship. Not only the famous CIA coup, but the fact that we…helped Saddam Hussein when he attacked Iran in 1980 and did not prevent him in any way from using chemical warfare against Iran. There are a great many resentments there. So if we have to hold back from interfering in any country, it should be Iran.

Roberts: So where do you see all of this heading – these street protests, this day of mourning? Apparently there are tens of thousands of people on the streets... Do you think this will play out over some and eventually die down? Or could this be the beginning of something even bigger?

Kennedy: Well…so far there doesn't seem to be an organized force to bring about a civil war or a rebellion, so far, against the established government. But don't forget, we're talking about two candidates for president. The real authority is in…the clerical and the religious headquarters with the Council of Guardians. And Iran has a far more stable structure than I think we give them credit for. And I think that's an important thing to remember.


Filed under: Iran
soundoff (671 Responses)
  1. johnrj08

    What are protesting Iranians hoping to change? Ahmadinejad was never the true ruler of that country? And Mousavi wouldn't have been, either. These people just seem to like crowded streets.

    June 18, 2009 at 1:10 pm |
  2. Wizza

    I agree with Morehead, the U.S. should exit Iraq through Iran and install a president who is more to our liking.

    June 18, 2009 at 1:10 pm |
  3. Jack

    Isn't freedome what America is all about? Exactly what we should do should be open to a discussion amongst truly wise people. (i.e., NOT the media and NOT 95% of the Democrats.) However, we should at the very least be talking about formal censure.

    June 18, 2009 at 1:10 pm |
  4. Jeremy

    Wait, does this country have oil in it? No? Then yeah, we should stay out of it.

    Point is - America has too long put her own interests above that of everyone else. Should we go into this country to advance the principles of freedom? I think those principles are alive and well and are being applied just fine by the citizens of Iran and we should stay out of their way. We, as Americans, can learn a lot from these folks! Someone attempted to steal an election and they took to the streets to protest peacefully for their rights as citizens. Is there any other time in history where an election was stolen and people didn't react this well?

    America doesn't wear a badge that says "World's Police Department", nor has this country dialed 911 about a domestic dispute. We need to grow up and let them work out their issues on their own, and support whoever comes out the winner.

    June 18, 2009 at 1:10 pm |
  5. Shupp

    Moorehead is on the right track. They hate us. We do not need to be meddling in any other countries affairs period. If they want to run around and kill eachother by all means let them. Half of them want to be free....that's a great thing. However the other religious half want to keep their power and are killing to do so. We do not need to give the Muslim/Islamic extrememist world any more cannon fodder to aim at us then we need to. We also do not need Europe thumbing their noses as us again for helping oppressed people become free. We did it once, the world hates us. Fine ....let the world do it's own dirty work from now on. Either the Iranian people free themselves or their leaders cull the population by a couple thousand. Either way it's none of our business.

    June 18, 2009 at 1:10 pm |
  6. Ali

    Last time the reformist iranians were getting close to a direct dialouge with US, Bush called Iran a part of axis of evil, and for that alot of reformist sent to jail because they were proven wrong about US intentions. So please leave them do what they are doing now with out interfierance, trust me you will get what ever credit your after by not interfiering in this one, other wise your energizing the dictator and giving them a reason to conect this movement to westerners

    June 18, 2009 at 1:10 pm |
  7. David

    Daniel, read a history book. Influencing a foreign country to put your desired leader into place is not the path to setting up long term allies. If Iran is to become a stabilizing force in the middle east, they must do it themselves. Any interference by the US, and the new government will have zero legitimacy.

    And it is laughable to say that the US is a beacon of freedom and an authority on human rights. Countries with active torture programs don't get to lecture anyone on human rights. I hope it was worth it.

    June 18, 2009 at 1:10 pm |
  8. Tim

    Iran had a democracy in the 1950s. That demorcacy lasted a few short years until we, the US, led by CIA operative Kermit Roosevelt (a relative of former presidents Teddy and FDR) overthrew their democractially elected president Mossadegh. We put in place a puppet, the Shah, who was seen as an undemocratic, US-imposed dictator. Iranian hatred over our interference in their own affairs resulted in the Shah being overthrown in the 1979 Islamic Revolution, which never would have succeeded had we not overthrown Iran's democracy in the 1950s. Our interference in the 1950s is the reason Iran is backwards now. This is precisely why we shouldn't interfere again. The Iranians clearly don't need us, don't want us and look to be doing a pretty good "by the people, for the people" demonstration at the moment. We don't always know best and, in fact, often are ignorant enough to make things worse.

    June 18, 2009 at 1:10 pm |
  9. Lyn

    Jamey
    Really, Well I have back in 2000 and 2004.
    It is frustrating !

    June 18, 2009 at 1:10 pm |
  10. Mike

    Let's stop policing the world and take care of our own issues like stopping corporate America from shipping jobs overseas, the fleecing of the middle class by the wealthy class and shoring up our environmental protection before Corporate America "consumes" us right into the trash can.

    June 18, 2009 at 1:09 pm |
  11. Dave

    They have not asked us for our help Greg. Until then, we need to butt out.

    June 18, 2009 at 1:09 pm |
  12. Dan

    Democracy dawned in Iran in 1891 when the shah's wives – he had a harem of around 1,600 – gave up smoking in protest of the shah's sale of the tobacco concession to the British. In fact, the shah, Nasir al-Din, sold concessions of all sorts – mineral rights, railroads, banks – to foreigners in order to support his extravagant tastes. But the shah's son committed an even greater treachery on his own country by selling the oil concession to William Knox D'Arcy in 1901, granting exclusive rights to Iranian petroleum to the British for a period of 60 years.

    The unfavorable terms of this concession, as well as many other abuses of monarchial power, led to the Iranian Revolution of 1905, the diminishment of the shah's power, the establishment of a parliament and the beginnings of a democratic tradition in Iran. In the meantime, D'Arcy discovered oil, a resource that suddenly became enormously valuable when Britain converted its coal-burning warships to oil just before World War I.

    Naturally, the British favored a friendly, compliant monarchy to balance the power of the parliament, which might have other ideas about the extremely unfavorable terms of the petroleum concession. They found their man in Reza Khan and staged a coup in 1921. Reza soon became the shah, a dictatorial leader who suppressed the parliament and fathered Mohammad Reza, who Americans know as the shah of Iran.

    The succession of Mohammad Reza, a weak leader with the personality of a playboy, provided an opportunity for the parliament to reassert power in Iran, which it did, under the leadership of Mohammad Mossadegh, a well-educated eccentric who had opposed the shah for many years. By 1951, Mossadegh was the prime minister, and he had emerged as an international spokesman for a global wave of anti-colonial nationalism. He addressed the United Nations and appeared on the cover of "Time" magazine. When Britain refused to renegotiate the exploitative terms of its oil concession, Iran nationalized the petroleum industry, to Britain's great consternation.

    The British hinted at an armed invasion and planned a coup, but were unable to acquire the cooperation of President Truman, who had more sympathy for the emerging nationalism of the former colonies than for the old colonial powers. Things changed, however, when Eisenhower became president in 1952. The Dulles brothers, John Foster as secretary of State and Allen as CIA director, both devoted anti-Communists, convinced Eisenhower to support a coup that would depose Mossadegh and restore the power of the shah to stand as a bulwark against the U.S.S.R.

    Operation Ajax, planned and financed by the CIA and orchestrated by Kermit Roosevelt, grandson of Teddy Roosevelt, was pulled off in August 1953. Hundreds died. Mossadegh was sent to prison for three years and spent the last 11 years of his life under house arrest. Supported by the U.S., the shah became a dictator who controlled Iran with secret police and terror until he was deposed in 1979, when, some historians believe, the U.S. hostages were taken in order to prevent another restoration of the Shah, like the one that occurred in 1953.

    Although most Americans never knew or have forgotten this story, many Iranians have not, and the effects of Operation Ajax persist. But the point of the story isn't to berate ourselves over an unseemly intervention into Iran more than 50 years ago.

    The CIA helped over throw the democratic elected leader of Iran to put the famous Shah of Iran in power, that is what caused the 1979 issue, and they have not forgotten.

    June 18, 2009 at 1:09 pm |
  13. Bootes

    We have plenty of our own internal problems to work on as well as plenty of ongoing external, why add another one to the mix?

    June 18, 2009 at 1:09 pm |
  14. Ron

    I don't see any benifit of helping one side or another, From what I read about this new contender, he is almost a clone to Armadeanajad! How does that help America or his own people for that matter! All it will do is make them more beligerent toward America.

    June 18, 2009 at 1:09 pm |
  15. Reader

    >>I can’t imagine how frustrating it would be to vote and then realize your vote was not really counted which is what I believe happened on election day in Iran.

    Many Floridians felt the same way after the US 2003 election -silenced, that they're votes weren't counted- and I think it's pretty clear that Americans wouldn't have tolerated interference from Iran (or anyone else) during the long recount/legal battle that followed.

    To suggest as one commentor does above that "if Americans felt an election was rigged we’d want help from anywhere we could get it, even if it was from those traditionally thought of as enemies"" is plainly hypcritical.

    June 18, 2009 at 1:08 pm |
  16. Arron

    Interfering in the Iranian "elections" at this point would only give the hardliners a scapegoat and empower them. If we really want reform in Iran, than we should keep our mouths shut with the exception of speaking out against violence, which Obama has done. The fact that so many in the GOP ranks fail to comprehend this is the reason why their foreign policy was such a disaster for the last 8 years.

    Obama is the terrorists worst nightmare.

    June 18, 2009 at 1:08 pm |
  17. Dave

    Gina, our country is headed into exactly what you said other countries are.

    June 18, 2009 at 1:08 pm |
  18. Mohsen

    US must not interfere in IRAN for a simple reason: because US interference WEAKENS and could ELIMINATE the home-grown pro-reform and pro-democracy movement in Iran. We need a long term- sustainable plan for establishing democracy in Iran. Any act of interference from outsiders, especially US, would kill the stability that is required for a true reform movement.

    June 18, 2009 at 1:08 pm |
  19. chameli

    I totally agree with Mr Kennedy. All of you who talk about Human Rights, i do think America has violated human rights when they interfere in other country's business. Look at the report on how many civilians were killed in Afghanistan.

    This kind of things do happen in every election in all the countries, only thing is the severity is different. i am sure US faced some vote vandalized during Bush's reign, but no foreign country interfered.

    So stay away people from other's affairs and concentrate on how to make things right in the US- such as worry about unemployment, crime rates, child abduction, serial killers, etc....

    June 18, 2009 at 1:08 pm |
  20. Bubba

    Great...sit back...do nothing. If we followed that in the 40's we would all be speaking German and every Jew in the World would be dead. What sense does that make?

    June 18, 2009 at 1:07 pm |
  21. JAMES DUCKWORTH SLC UTAH

    WE ARE THE WORLD'S POLICE FORCE
    WE CAN'T KEEP OUR NOSES OUT OF IT

    June 18, 2009 at 1:07 pm |
  22. gene

    I agree, stay out. If the US wants to do something then we should lead by example. Work harder to make the elections in the US fair and open. Keep speech in the US free and make sure that we honor our freedoms at least as much as we think other should honor theirs.

    June 18, 2009 at 1:07 pm |
  23. David

    For those that are advocating interference, what will we do, send in the US Army, Marines, or Special Forces? Please, we need to learn to stay out of other countries internal affairs.

    June 18, 2009 at 1:07 pm |
  24. Anna

    If Mr. Kennedy was "the acting head of the United States’ Embassy’s economic section in Tehran when it was overrun by student protesters in 1979", did he believe then that he and the US were failing to respect Iran and that we were interfering in their business? Or was he brain-washed during the 444 days that he was a hostage? I suspect that he is grateful that President Reagan's inauguration prompted his release, interference or no interference.

    June 18, 2009 at 1:07 pm |
  25. Jim

    We need to stay out of the election results discussion. It's none of our business. How would we have reacted if Iran had chosen sides in our disputed 2000 election? We do have the right to protest any human rights violations related to the demonstrations and the government's attempt to silence them. But even then we don't have the right to take unilateral action. That's what the United Nations, ineffective as it may be, is for.

    June 18, 2009 at 1:07 pm |
  26. Mark L.

    We've got enough of our own problems to deal with right here at home (i.e. – ever-increasing budget deficits, initially inherited from the G.W. Bush administration), rising unemployment, a broken US Health Care system, a broken educational system, etc. When is the GOP going to wake up and realize it's high time we stay out of other countries' affairs and fix our own problems right here at home. And you wonder why the McCain / Palin ticket lost? Is this really a surprise to anyone?

    June 18, 2009 at 1:07 pm |
  27. Matt

    I believe that the people of Iran should be the ones to resolve this situation and that we should stay out ot it. I do not see how its any of our business to even comment on how they run there country.

    June 18, 2009 at 1:07 pm |
  28. Ansi

    "If Americans felt an election was rigged and couldn’t get word out, we’d want help from anywhere we could get it..."

    America's election was rigged, and is still very flawed. Look at Bush... did he REALLY get the most votes? BS. Voting machines that apparently can not count? WTF?

    WE ARE ALL PUPPETS.

    June 18, 2009 at 1:07 pm |
  29. Spencer

    It's refreshing to hear the voice of a professional diplomat rather than all of the pundits and politicians. The sensationalism of the news creates a "something must be done!" sensation when the opposite is true. We MUST do nothing. That may go against our protestant work ethic and action oriented culture, but there is no course of action that produces anything but harm.

    June 18, 2009 at 1:06 pm |
  30. rfjohn

    I beleive that the USA should stay out of all the foreign country's problems. Don't we have enough problems here at home??

    June 18, 2009 at 1:06 pm |
  31. Daniel

    Best thing the US can do is take a public and OFFICIAL "hands-off" approach while at the same time covertly support the student movement, fomenting a regime change from the inside. While I think the latter won't succeed today, in the long run, the Supreme Leader and those in power won't survive for another generation; when these protesters have kids and those kids grow up resenting the government, they'll have what's due to them.

    June 18, 2009 at 1:06 pm |
  32. NJ

    We Americans kept our mouths shut in 2000 & 2004. Now it's time to mind our Business. Atleast, the people in Iran have the BALLS to take to the streets and all we do is BLOG and TWITTER!!!

    June 18, 2009 at 1:06 pm |
  33. Embry

    I don't think we should have anything to say ...how about the management of the U.S. vote in Florida for our presidental election...I don't remember Iran stepping in to question the "chad".

    June 18, 2009 at 1:06 pm |
  34. Steve

    ...it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

    OUR Declaration of Independence

    If we really believe this, we'll stay out of Iranian affairs since our own founding principle is that it is the right of the governed to determine their own form of government–not the prerogative of foreign powers (the essence of the Monroe Doctrine)

    June 18, 2009 at 1:05 pm |
  35. Greg C.

    I suppose we should have left Hitler alone...I suppose we should have asked the French to not get involved in our own revolution. No, the rights we have were as a result of others that dared to fight for the rights of others; sometimes that requires sacrifice and doing things that put us in harm's way but where would we be without sacrifice and the pursuit of freedom for us and for others – slaves. The people of Iran are crying out for justice. We should help them whereever and whenever possible even if it means sacrifice.

    June 18, 2009 at 1:05 pm |
  36. Mike, Shinglehouse, PA

    We should sit back and let Iran tear itself apart from within. It's a growing pain that we experienced over 140 years ago. The goverment of Iran is already accusing the West of interference. We should take a stand to clean up our own backyard, leaving these nations to fend for themselves, and and let them wallow around in their independence for the next two hundred years. Tough rhetoric doesn't work, sanctions do not work, and when we do nothing...we're still evil. Face it, we have our own economy crisis, Iraq, Afghanistan, industrial decline, agricultural decline, over-burdened military, and a president who thinks he's a rockstar. Yet, our goverment may be considering some type of action that will most likely be spun as, "helping the people of Iran. " It's not our problem... Let Allah help the Iranians to sort out their mess.

    June 18, 2009 at 1:05 pm |
  37. Dave

    In his farewell address, Washington said "Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all"

    As a nation, we have slid away from this concept. When will we learn to stop sticking our noses into other nations' affairs? For some reason, we can never just sit on the sidelines and watch; we seem to want to run onto the field, don our helmets, and get in the game. This is not our game, anymore than we would have wanted North Korea, Indonesia, Spain, Brazil, Iran, or any other nation on earth sticking their noses in the 2000 preseidential election, when Gore and Bush disputed the vote count. Let it rest people. We have bigger issues on our own sidelines, than to run onto the field and play a game that is not ours to play.

    June 18, 2009 at 1:05 pm |
  38. Gina (USAF vet)

    It is so easy for an American to sit in thier nice homes in the United States, and speak of others. When people are being supressed from living their lives the way they would like to, it is very wrong in every espect of the conversation.
    Don't get me wrong, when the US have people out on the streets, people that have no food, I would rather we feed us before we feed others, give us jobs before taking work overseas. however as long as the US have been in the existance we have always wanted to take care of others. It's in our nature.

    June 18, 2009 at 1:05 pm |
  39. tuta

    I think What the US is doing now Is right because Iran is a sovereign state and we dont want to meddle into the internal affair of another country. Those who are calling for interference are or have colonial and war monegering mentality. Let the Iranians solve their own problem just like any other soveveign country , should it be Britain, Gemany, Russia of Nepal. Why would US meddle? Barack Obama has so far been cautious and is doing what the rest of international world is doing – the Iranian people know their problem and their leaders better than any one else. We would not let another country interfere our own internal politics then why should we?

    June 18, 2009 at 1:05 pm |
  40. Ann

    you have no idea what exactly is happening there and is not your business .. other than seeking in this turmoil an opportunity to get some profit. Solve your problems because you have plenty to deal with. If Iran is prepared for some thing different, they will get there.

    June 18, 2009 at 1:05 pm |
  41. Frank Nez

    Apparently some of these comments have forgot about our own 2000 election, which the Supreme Court annointed G Bush as "King of the US." A majority of people know our limits based upon past history. I commend Mr. Kennedy for his insight. Many of you never experienced what Mr. kennedy endured in 1979. These activities are still happening today.

    June 18, 2009 at 1:04 pm |
  42. gi joe

    Hey Guys, anybody remember they have some nukes! I say we go over there know; while there dealing with crap, blow off the map once and all...and build some condo's baby for Marines

    June 18, 2009 at 1:03 pm |
  43. Ken in NC

    If the Republican Party had demostrated after the last election, would we have been very receptive to Germany or Briton or Russia coming over here to tell us our elections were a fraud?

    If Russia sent troops to American soil to put a Russian form of government in place because they thought that their form of government was a better government than our democracy would Americans fight the Russians with everything we have got? I think we would fight anyone that tried to make us change our form of government. We are the only ones that will allow our form of government to be changed.

    June 18, 2009 at 1:03 pm |
  44. Mike

    I'm glad the French interfered 230 years ago, or we'd stil be part of the Kingdom.

    June 18, 2009 at 1:03 pm |
  45. Mark L.

    Bottom Line – We need to stay out of Iranian affairs, just as we should of stayed out of the Vietnamese affairs, just as we should of stayed out of Iraqi affairs (once again, I will reiterate – Iraq and Saddam Hussein had absolutely NOTHING to do with 9/11), and just like the rest of the world stayed out of our affairs when George W. Bush stole the election from Al Gore in 2000 and then again from John Kerry in 2004. George W. Bush has turned many African, Asian and European nations against us for always playing the bullish role of sticking our nose in other countries' affairs where it does not belong. Thanks to George W. Bush, the 'Cold War' almost resurfaced between Russia and the USA with all the talk of developing a missile defense system in Poland. Give me a break GOP !!

    June 18, 2009 at 1:02 pm |
  46. dave martin

    According to "Moorhead"'s logic we should sat back during WWII had we not been attacked. No one is arguing that we should do anything than condemn the fraud. By not speaking out, we are empowering Ahmadjed. Once he regains total control he knows that the US will bend to whatever his whims are due to our fear of offending him and other crazies in the Middle East. Obama is leading us down a path to major problems at home and abroad. He is finishing the job that Bush began only from the left.

    June 18, 2009 at 1:02 pm |
  47. Mike

    I wonder how we would have felt back in 2000 if the leaders of Iran, Russia, etc. had started very vocally speaking out within the international community urging us to have a complete re-vote in Florida rather than a a "flawed" recount process?

    My guess is that we would have politely (or maybe not so politely) told them all to stick their opinions where the sun don't shine and stay out of our business....

    June 18, 2009 at 1:02 pm |
  48. Rumsfeld

    As hard as it is to withhold comment on current events in Iran, we simply must remain silent regarding the election results. We all know the real meaning of what we are seeing. However, politically, we must not speak about the obvious at this time. We should voice our support for the people of Iran and that they are heard honestly within their country.

    We must allow them to mature into a nation that is effective, capable and able to find the best path for themselves. For once, please keep the U.S. out of this. We need to take care of our own matters and keep our political mouths shut about Iranian elections.

    June 18, 2009 at 1:02 pm |
  49. Ron M

    We should absolutely keep our noses out of their business. Much like we should stay out of other countries' business. Most of the resentment in that part of the world is because we can't keep to our own business. We have our own problems, our own resources. Let us solve and use those.

    June 18, 2009 at 1:02 pm |
  50. Zoe

    I totally agree that the election is an internal matter and no other country should interfere, but how about the innocent people getting killed in the streets? I am so concerned about people who are trying to get their rights peacefully and get hurt harshly by hardliners in Iran. Should everyone just watch all these even if more and more people get killed? What about Human Rights that everybody was talking about?

    June 18, 2009 at 1:01 pm |
  51. millertwin

    I agree–we should BUTT OUT. We have enough problems in our own country and we should be concentrating on working them out instead.

    June 18, 2009 at 1:01 pm |
  52. Marc

    "I think that that is their problem."

    My sentiments exactly. It's not our business what happens in another sovereign nation. If you care so much, join up with some mercenaries and offer to fight to free Iran.

    June 18, 2009 at 1:01 pm |
  53. Leslie Weliwitigoda

    Mr. Kennedy has put it absolutely correct. I don't believe that U.S. or any other nation has a right to interfere into an internal matter like the election of a President in another country. Some say the election in Iran is was rigged; some say not. It's a matter for that country to solve. If a country, by its actions, become a threat to the U.S., of course, we must take action. But, how is that an election in a different country, if rigged, becomes a threat to the U.S? We must ask ourselves how come that the Interior Minister in Iran seems to be accusing the West of interference. Why doesn't he do that for the East? Perhaps they remember that the West is very good at interfering with other nations to tell them what is good and what is bad for them, while in certain instances they themselves do the gravest injustices on earth. So, I believe that interfering in Iran (or Sri Lanka or any other nation) will only make matters worse for the west as well as the whole world.

    June 18, 2009 at 1:00 pm |
  54. Jim Moseley

    AMEN!

    June 18, 2009 at 1:00 pm |
  55. sazzad

    I agree with Kennedy that US should not interfere in another country's election. Did anybody in the world interfere when there was an obvious rigging of election during the first term of Bush?

    June 18, 2009 at 1:00 pm |
  56. david j.

    We very much need to change our colonial mentality in the world. Unfortunately we have a long murky history of colonialism in the Middle East and many other places. As painful as it is to witness injustice, invading another country either by force or politics in order to change the internal politics will continue to marginalize us. Our previous relationship with Iran and its despotic, corrupt Shah resulted in the '79 debacle and the results of that reverberate today. Our greed for oil and profit has so often ruled our diplomacy and aggression. This is a huge profile to change and unless change sincerely comes from within our cultural attitude and political behavior, we are contributing to doom on this planet.

    June 18, 2009 at 1:00 pm |
  57. i.e.

    It is Iran's problem, for Iran to work out...however, it plays out. It is not our place to "step-in" We are not the world's police force, judge, or controller....we have enough other problems to deal with.

    June 18, 2009 at 1:00 pm |
  58. jrzshor

    it seems rather weird how america chooses to "oppose" one election over another. there are many "freely" elected presidents for life that we do not speak about. iran held elections freely.

    could you imagine the utter outcry if those who voted for mcain went to the streets protesting?

    June 18, 2009 at 12:59 pm |
  59. Mike

    US interference will only legitamize the claims of western influence by Ahmadinejad. Many don't realize that Obama is in fact helping the opposition and the people of Iran by refusing to interfere.

    One of the biggest factors that has kept the Islamic Republic in power all these years in Iran is with the "Us vs. Them" mentality. By giving the people an enemy (The West), they will stick together and support the republic, no matter how dictatorial or savage they may be. The people will also stay silent even though they all know that this is not the first rigged election in the country. By not getting involved, Obama has deprived Ahmadinejad of the "enemy" that the people must rally against, therefore losing the silent obedience that he has enjoyed these past 4 years.

    I am certain that if the US had gotten involved in the Iranian elections, Ahmadinejad would have regained the support of the people and the voice of opposition would have been silenced.

    Obama is a much smarter than McCain can ever hope to be.

    June 18, 2009 at 12:59 pm |
  60. Nuwan

    I agree with Mr. Kennedy for most part. There may be an need for US to interfere in the future, if there is a reall call from the people to do so or may be for the whole world to interfere if Iranian government engage in massive slaughtering of humans. For now this is their fight. We need to let them continue and see where it is heading. This freedom movement need more voice inside Iraq to really change things. So now the time to observe not interfere. If Iranians bring this movement to a position that would tip the system, that would open a need for some sort of interference from the world. I think that is exactly what Obama administration would do.

    June 18, 2009 at 12:58 pm |
  61. Gary

    All those that want the US to get involved,are the people who sit on the side and cheer. More than ever,the US needs to stay out of this.We really need to STOP being the world police.
    Let other countries step up and be the "beacon of freedom". We don't need to stomp around the earth,throwing our form of government at others. Let's worry about the" human rights" of our troops.

    June 18, 2009 at 12:58 pm |
  62. Jessica

    We helped Osama Bin Laden fight the Ruskies.

    We helped Sadaam Hussein fight Iran.

    Now, we are trying to hunt down and kill Bin Laden and we arent killed Hussein.

    The reality is – if we get involed, there's no guarantee this youth wants what we want...and if we find out they don't, and we leave them...they'll resent us 10 fold ...and we'll be faced with another Bin laden/Hussein scenario.

    HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF – YOU HAVE TO LEARN FROM HISTORY!

    June 18, 2009 at 12:58 pm |
  63. John Brock

    Absolutely stay out of it. There is no other productive option. Let the citizens of Iran manage their push for freedom. If proof of human rights violations surface, then perhaps we should voice strong opposition along with the UN. We can not and should not undermine another sovereign government because we disagree with their president on a multitude of issues. If the Iranian people truly, really and truly want freedom, then they will stop at nothing to get. The strongest revolution is that which forms from the inside out. It is their choice. The Iranian government is strong enough to reform on its own, if that is the will of the people. We must show it the respect it deserves in situations like this or we risk loosing our own credibility and a potential arms deal down the road.

    June 18, 2009 at 12:58 pm |
  64. Nancy

    We need to stay out of their business. They need to work it out or they are going to blame us. Take a look at the history with our CIA and the year or 1953 and you will see why the east doesn't like the west!

    June 18, 2009 at 12:57 pm |
  65. S Callahan

    Nice article John...it's good to have this discussion. I know as an American it inspires me to see another country standing up for more freedoms....and I support them in spirit.

    Helen Steiner Rice wrote a poem years ago called the Peace Prayer

    god place the peace he promised in the hannds of man
    But man has never kept that peace since endless time began
    For we have never understood either now or then
    That peace comes not through battles but doing good to men.
    and when we meet with strangers along life's thoroughfares
    Be not forgetful that thereby we pass angels unawares,
    and when we are at peace wiht God, then only we will find
    Thepeace on earth He promised and eternal peace of mind.

    I wish the citizens of Iran the Spirit to pursue what they were born wit, God given rights of freedom (including their happiness).

    June 18, 2009 at 12:57 pm |
  66. Rob

    I lived in Tehran from 1973 through to 1977. The people I met over there are no more different than the many people here in the US. We should support their people by staying out of their business and let them experience the natural democratic growth on their own. They as a people will come together to pressure government and Clerical leaders to develop and grow towards this goal.

    June 18, 2009 at 12:57 pm |
  67. sammy

    We as a country have no business interfering with another country unless they declare war upon us. We should not be interfering in their religious beliefs or their way of life, the US must hold back on this one.

    June 18, 2009 at 12:56 pm |
  68. David

    Hmmm. just ask yourself the following question:

    When George Bush stole the first election in 1999/2000, despite his challenger having the majority of the votes, would we have liked for the Iranians to tell us how we should overturn the results of the election, run a new election, trat the people of the United States fairly, and run our country in a fair and democratic manner?

    I think not.

    June 18, 2009 at 12:56 pm |
  69. Buddy Gilmour

    In fact the it has been Obama's less confrontational approach to Iran that has empowered the moderates there. Bush, or should I say Cheney, by continually ratcheting up tensions, actually helped the Iranian hardliners expand their power. Cheney may be a genius of Neo-Con theory but is actually pretty dumb when it comes to practice. He grew up in an ivory tower and doesn't understand people. Obama, who grew up in the real world, is doing a masterful job.

    June 18, 2009 at 12:56 pm |
  70. farshad

    I agree with the gentleman. Stay out....Let the people decide what they want....US interference will only result in resentment and future blame...the US is not the Policeman of the world. Everytime we stick our nose somewhere we cause more headaches than solutions. If you want to help, send humanitarian support and actually SUPPORT the UN and give it credance instead of doing everything on your own terms and with your own objectives.

    June 18, 2009 at 12:56 pm |
  71. Lee

    It's none of our business. Stay out of it.

    June 18, 2009 at 12:55 pm |
  72. Debra

    I agree. We should not interfere with the Iran elections, although I do feel that the out come of the elections and the current protests are important on a world wide level.
    The more we interfere, the more we fuel the fires of radical hatred toward the US, and the more we endanger the safety and well being of our own citizens, both on US soil and abroad.
    Our "help" has not been asked for, and any interference by the US will not be looked upon well.
    Good luck to the Iranians, and may the country one day be one that looks to forster peace.

    June 18, 2009 at 12:55 pm |
  73. David

    Stay as far away from Iran as possible. No need to start another Iraq. If the people that left Iran feel that the U.S. should get involved, then maybe they should go back and start a revolution. Otherwise we will just sit and wait like the rest of the world does.

    June 18, 2009 at 12:55 pm |
  74. Dan

    I read yesterday that some stateside Iranians were protesting the fact that we weren't helping the Iranian people with their current difficulties. If I remember correctly the last time Iranian nationals were protesting on American soil they carried signs that read "Death to America".

    June 18, 2009 at 12:55 pm |
  75. CH

    It's really easy to say "let's just stay out of it" when it isn't you who's being disenfranchised, it isn't your neighbor that's being clubbed over the head after being arrested for protesting, it isn't your brother who's being shot at a protest rally. I'm not saying that we should actively intervene, but I don't know why people are so doggedly determined to paint the US as having a "colonial attitude" simply because we care about rights that WE HAVE DEEMED TO BE INALIENABLE being extended to our fellow man. We would be hypocritical if we didn't care, because we've stated that these are rights that inherently belong to all men solely by virtue of being born.

    June 18, 2009 at 12:54 pm |
  76. Manish Patel

    Did Iran or any other country interfered with US elections when Bush and Gore were feuding in Florida and brother Bush helped to steal election using Harris? When our own election system is far from perfect, we have no business telling others what to do. It is better we should stay away from other country's internal matters or pay the price with the blood of our young soldiers later.

    June 18, 2009 at 12:54 pm |
  77. Brian Hensley

    Just like IRAQ!!!! right?

    June 18, 2009 at 12:54 pm |
  78. DSangiovanni

    I agree 100%. Let them alone and US should shut up and don't interfere.

    June 18, 2009 at 12:54 pm |
  79. To Sarah

    Sarah, seriously, it would be so much easier to respond to your post (which I disagree with, by the way) if you could post with some type of punctuation that made this rambling mess make some type of coherent sense. Your post was incoherent. Are you trying to say that we should stay out of their business because we would want people to stay out of our country's protests? Then you go on to compare their protests about the lack of a FREE AND FAIR election with our protests about the Vietnam war which were seldom violent and, when they were, still had the freedom of the press so that everyone KNEW what was happening? These people are trying to BE HEARD and we are trying to ensure that they are heard. We are not trying to interfere with who they elect – we just want to ensure that the people have their say. We did not agree with the outcome of the election of the Palestinian elections in which Hamas gained power, as this was a very negative thing for us, but we lauded the fact that the Palestinians were given the opportunity to have their voices be heard and to hold FREE AND FAIR elections, regardless of the outcome.

    June 18, 2009 at 12:54 pm |
  80. Jon

    Why, then, don't we respect the sovereign nation of Sudan and get our noses out of this business in Darfur? Why do we get piled on for respecting the sovereign nation of Rwanda and keeping our noses out of Hutu and Tutsi affairs?

    June 18, 2009 at 12:52 pm |
  81. Heather

    Sarah, well said. We need to stay out of everyone else's buisness and worry about our own for a while. We have enough problems going on in our home country than to worry about them. The people of Iran are finally standing up for theirselves. If our government keeps putting us at war with every country that is having issues that dont concers us it will lead to WWIII

    June 18, 2009 at 12:52 pm |
  82. lindy

    USA doen't seem to understand the meaning "Stay out of our country's business!" Let the people of Iran work it out. They are not children. Their country has been around for a long time and they are having a say in their politics. What right does our government have in telling another country what to do? Freedom of any kind, costs. Let Iran pay for their freedoms. They've earned it!

    June 18, 2009 at 12:51 pm |
  83. Dave

    Hear, hear, Mr. Kennedy! Any attempt on the part of US officials to express support for any side in Iran will be used by the other side to say "Look! They're puppets of the Americans!" That's the kiss of death. Obama is playing it smart by doing it the way he is.

    June 18, 2009 at 12:51 pm |
  84. Elicia

    Sarah – the people DO have a say. Until they become one unified body, their words may not resonate as clearly. It is not your place nor mine to tell another country how to run their affairs, just as it isn't President Obama's place to speak out against their government or elections. I would not Iran, or any other country, to tell the US how to run our elections, whether or not we should recount, or how to run our country – would you? Not everyone wants US involvement in their affairs.

    June 18, 2009 at 12:51 pm |
  85. Richard

    as lbj said when your enemy is making fools of themselves get out of the way. it applies to iraan as well.

    June 18, 2009 at 12:50 pm |
  86. Roger

    Forget Iran. We need to live in a free country.

    June 18, 2009 at 12:50 pm |
  87. Lynanne M. Reed

    It is Iran's issues to figure out. US has absolutely NO reason to interfere. If Iran chooses violence, then THEY have to deal with the aftermath. No other country took part in the US Civil War... it was ours to figure out, and we did. They will too.

    June 18, 2009 at 12:50 pm |
  88. ChrisM

    Couldn't agree more with Mr. Kennedy at this point. If we do interfere, even by voicing support for the opposition, we end up giving the Mullahs the excuse to crack down on the opposition. In 1992, the Iranian reform movement was decimated after their victory by the Mullahs, who had many arrested. What we need to do is ensure the opposition movement and leadership survive intact, whether they get a new election or are forced to accept Ahmadenejhad. The opposition needs time to get organized and build over the long-term. They need to build up allies in the military and in Qom for religious cover. None of this is going to happen over the next few weeks, but it MIGHT happen over the next 4 years. 2013 should be the target for real reform in the Iranian system. Right now any US involvement will only ensure Mousavi and his followers are imprisoned.

    June 18, 2009 at 12:50 pm |
  89. jamey

    Sarah,

    I agree. Iran is not a democracy, it is totalitarian. I can't imagine how frustrating it would be to vote and then realize your vote was not really counted which is what I believe happened on election day in Iran.

    June 18, 2009 at 12:49 pm |
  90. andrea

    I totally agree with Mr. Kennedy. We must really drop this patronizing attitude toward smaller countries and mind more our own country.
    Let's take care of our home.

    June 18, 2009 at 12:49 pm |
  91. GrumpyC2P

    Every time we stick our noses in another country's business we wind up sacrificing American lives. Stand back and let them handle their own affairs.

    June 18, 2009 at 12:49 pm |
  92. Marko

    we should not interfere. any interference however well intentioned would only be viewed the opposite way, and would hurt our cause rather than help it. it would make the reformists look like tools of the west rather than independant thinkers seeking reform.

    June 18, 2009 at 12:48 pm |
  93. Dan

    I totally disagree with this. This isn't a matter of whether or not Iran is a sovereign nation. It's a human rights issue. America is supposed to be a beacon of freedom, and if we sit back and let a government silence its citizens, we're not living up to our name. If Americans felt an election was rigged and couldn't get word out, we'd want help from anywhere we could get it, even if it was from those traditionally thought of as enemies. This isn't 1979. There's been a generational shift, and those in power weren't involved in those things, and we should be able to move past it now.

    June 18, 2009 at 12:48 pm |
  94. Morally absent

    Who will speak up for the truth?

    June 18, 2009 at 12:48 pm |
  95. Jason

    I think Mr Kennedy is right, US needs to stay out at this point and support the people of Iran by simply saying we would like the wishes of Iranina people to come true no matter who they chose to lead the nation.

    Taking sides of any one candidate will also undermine the candidate as he will be labeled by others as a "American puppet/agent".

    This is exactly what brought down the Shah of Iran. He was too close to US and seen as a PUPPET.

    June 18, 2009 at 12:46 pm |
  96. brian

    We should aid when asked, but do not stick our noses where we are not wanted. Iraq was an example of such. However, I do support interference if it's appearant that the people do want democracy and need our help to put their candidate in his rightfully won presidency.

    June 18, 2009 at 12:45 pm |
  97. Jordan

    If all this was about was a fair election, then Moorehead would have a point. But there are many human rights violations going on to quell the demonstrators that Mr. Kennedy obviously doesn't care about.

    June 18, 2009 at 12:45 pm |
  98. Bonita

    I agree. We need to stay out of that. It's their election and their problems. Let them handle it the way they best know how. We have stuck our noses in places we had no business long enough. It's time to get back to the business of the country and get it back on track and secured.

    June 18, 2009 at 12:42 pm |
  99. Daniel Nelson

    I disagree with Moorhead Kennedy about how we should not interfere in the Iranian people’s quest for freedom. We should so that the country might become a real asset to peace in a world that needs now more than ever togetherness to tackle the world’s problems! Iran’s religious leaders have no concern for a peaceful world and does support terrorism around the world so that they may one day control the Islamic religion’s quest for it’s power and control of the world! This is their true belief and it is written in the Koran that Islam will rule the world someday. Yes we free people should be very concerned about the outcome of Iran’s government and it’s quest for control over the true freedom fighters that are now amassing in the streets of Iran!

    June 18, 2009 at 11:58 am |
  100. Sarah

    so I sit and I see what is going on with theses protests in Iran and realize that the best thing for the US, to do is stay out of it. We don't like any other country in our business, So we should stay out of theirs,. I clearly remember learning during the Vietnam war we the US had several protests, The Iranian people are not causing war they just feel used, let down for years these people were being held captive in there own home, country,. I don't know how I would feel To now have an actual say. Let the people have a say, Stop holding them hostage. Severity of this issue is a problem, What the Us needs to do try to help the people gain control and finally be a free country......

    June 18, 2009 at 10:53 am |
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