When it comes to foreign policy, President Barack Obama is a one-trick pony, and the trick isn't working.
The leaders of Canada, France and Germany have condemned, in strong and forthright language, the apparent fraud in Iran's presidential election, and the regime's bloody repression of the people protesting it. Of the West's leaders, only Barack Obama has equivocated.
Mr. Obama's equivocation is a tacit endorsement of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Lt. Col. Ralph Peters, a retired Army intelligence officer, said Thursday.
"Our president's refusal to take a forthright moral stand on the side of the Iranian freedom marchers is read in Tehran as a blank check for the current regime," Mr. Peters wrote in the New York Post.
Kianoosh Sanjari, an Iranian student activist, agrees. "The people of Iran will not forgive Barack Obama for siding with the evil regime," Mr. Sanjari said Wednesday in an interview with the blogger Gateway Pundit.
Mr. Obama said he does not wish to be perceived as "meddling" in Iran's internal affairs. He had no qualms about meddling in Israel's internal affairs when he demanded a halt to building in settlements as a precondition to peace talks with the Palestinians.
In any event, the president's even-handed approach between the oppressors in Iran and their victims has not produced the result he said he desired. The state-run media has accused the United States of "intolerable" interference in Iranian affairs. This was inevitable, because the regime must blame the unrest on something other than its own unpopularity.
The differing treatment of the mullahs in Iran and the democratically elected government of Israel is mirrored elsewhere, noticed J.G. Thayer at Contentions, the blog of Commentary magazine.
"Regarding North Korea and China, Obama seems almost eager to offer a hand in friendship to those who have wasted no time in offering insults, offenses and threats against the U.S.," Mr. Thayer said.
"On the other hand, Obama seems almost eager to alienate Great Britain," Mr. Thayer said, and has pushed for protectionist measures that "royally irritated Canada."
The emerging Obama doctrine, Mr. Thayer concluded, is "treat your enemies like friends, and your friends like enemies."
The response so far to the Obama doctrine hasn't been encouraging. The North Koreans talk openly of nuclear war. The Palestinians reject the idea of co-existence with Israel. And the regime in Iran is cracking heads.
The kindest explanation for Mr. Obama's behavior is that he expects Mr. Ahmadinejad and the mullahs to prevail (which is the way to bet), and he doesn't want to queer negotiations with the regime.
Robert Kagan of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace thinks Mr. Obama would prefer it if Mr. Ahmadinejad triumphs quickly.
"What Obama needs is a rapid return to peace and quiet in Iran, not continued ferment," Mr. Kagan wrote in The Washington Post Wednesday. "His goal must be to deflate the opposition, not to encourage it. And that, by and large, is what he has been doing."
A "senior official" quoted by the Wall Street Journal Monday appeared to confirm Mr. Kagan's suspicions. "Had there been a transition to a new government, a new president wouldn't have emerged until August," the official said. "In some respects, this (the stolen election) might allow Iran to engage the international community quicker."
Mr. Obama has great faith in "dialogue" generally, and in his powers of persuasion in particular. But he is delusional if he thinks he can talk Mr. Ahmadinejad into abandoning Iran's nuclear weapons program. What shards of legitimacy the regime retains depend on having the United States and Israel as enemies. Regime change is the only way, short of military attack, to end Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons and its support for international terror.
The massive protests throughout Iran indicate regime change is possible. But it's unlikely if the protesters don't receive at least moral support from the president of the United States.
"It is a bewildering abdication of soft power which refuses to peacefully extol America's democratic ideals," wrote Joseph Laconte of the Weekly Standard. "It is a crude and bizarre kind of realism that keeps mute while the democratic aspirations of millions are trampled by despotic rule."