Speaking to the Pod Save America podcast on Friday, former President Barack Obama admitted that it had been a “mistake” not to support Iranian democracy protesters in 2009, when they rose up against their tyrannical regime in what was called the “Green Revolution.”
At the time, Obama chose to remain quiet about the protests, as he hoped to preserve the regime, and the administration of radical, Holocaust-denying Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in the hope of pursuing negotiations toward a deal on Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
[W]hen I think back to 2009, 2010, you, you guys will recall there was a, a big debate inside the White House about whether I should publicly affirm what was going on with the [G]reen movement because a lot of the activists were being accused of being tools of the West, and there was some thought that we were somehow gonna be undermining their street cred in Iran if I supported what they were doing. And in retrospect, I think that was a mistake.
Every, every time we see a flash, a glimmer of, of hope of, of people longing for freedom, I think we have to point it out. We have to shine a spotlight on it. We have to express some solidarity about it. That doesn’t mean by the way that the administration is that, that a US administration shouldn’t be taking in a bunch of other equities into account.
The Obama administration argued that it would be counterproductive to support the protests, because doing so would allow the regime to cast them as a result of American intervention (as it did anyway, and has done in the “Women’s Revolution” today.) Critics noted that the administration lost an opportunity to topple the Iranian regime, and likely end the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, without firing a shot.
Instead, Obama struck a nuclear deal in 2015 that would allow Iran to emerge as a nuclear power within a decade. Obama told Pod Save America he was still proud of the Iran deal, which gave billions to the regime and relieved it from sanctions.