House GOP leader wants Congress to back Iran dissidents

Rep. Mike Pence is working to inject the U.S. into the situation in Iran

Published June 16, 2009 9:01PM (EDT)

It's not just people like Bill Kristol pushing President Obama to take a tougher stance on Iran anymore. Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., one of the top House Republicans, introduced a resolution Tuesday afternoon that would move the House far beyond where the administration is willing to go: Firmly, and publicly, behind the Iranian dissidents.

As written, the resolution, which the Washington Independent's David Weigel obtained, says that the House "expresses its support for all Iranian citizens who struggle for freedom, human rights, civil liberties, and the protection of the rule of law, condemns the ongoing violence against demonstrators ... [and] affirms the universality of individual rights and hte importance of democratic and fair elections." (Video of Pence discussing the measure on the House floor is below.)

All of that sounds unobjectionable, of course -- more than that, admirable -- but nothing's quite so simple. There are serious concerns, publicly expressed by Obama himself, that if the U.S. is seen as involved in the protests, it will actually damage the protesters' cause and provide President Ahmadinejad with a serious propaganda boost.

As Weigel notes, the fact that it's Pence -- a partisan figure -- introducing the resolution makes it seem like a political move, perhaps intended to embarrass the president and, down the line, be used as a club against House Democrats who vote "no." Seems like a pretty dangerous game to be playing for political gain, if that's indeed what Pence is doing.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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