Peace Prize for Obama, Cuts for Iranian Reformers

Helle Dale /

In the citation for President Obama’s award of the Nobel peace prize, the Norwegian Nobel Academy mentioned that his style of leadership would bring in a new era for human rights and democracy – among the many other wondrous things that are to be expected from the president. Unfortunately, the academy must have failed to talk to the human rights groups working in support of the Iranian people. As reported by Kenneth Timmerman in, the Obama administration has actually cut funding in support of pro-democracy activists. For all those, who want to see regime change in Iran, preferably by peaceful means, this is a deeply troubling development that sends the wrong signals to the world about American priorities and values. In terms of public diplomacy, this country is now signaling that dealing with autocratic regimes is more important than supporting the rights of the people they oppress. It is a complete reversal of the efforts made by the Bush administration to help develop civil society within Iran.

Back in June when the Iranian people took to the streets to protest against the fraudulent election results that returned Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power, many here were inspired by their courage and the hope that Iran had finally turned a corner. The Obama administration, on the contrary, was stung by the Iranian allegation that it was supporting the demonstrators, and as a result zeroed out the funding for Iranian pro-democracy programs in the State Department budget. For instance, reports Mr. Timmermann, Yale University’s Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, was denied a $2.7 million grant, at a time when Iran was in clear violation of human rights, right in front of the television screens of the world. (more…)