President Obama is holding a news conference in the White House Garden. He began by addressing the events in Iran:
As I said in Cairo, suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. The Iranian people have a universal right to assembly and free speech. If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect those rights, and heed the will of its own people. It must govern through consent, not coercion. That is what Iran’s own people are calling for, and the Iranian people will ultimately judge the actions of their own government.
That's all very well and good. But President Obama said nothing about the status of engagement with Iran's leaders.
Suppose the Mullahs continue to disrespect the universal right to assembly and free speech.
Suppose the Mullahs do not seek the respect of the international community.
Suppose the Mullahs continue not to heed the will of their own people and govern by coercion.
Suppose the Mullahs disregard the Iranian people's judgment by imprisoning and killing them en masse.
What will be the consequences for Iran's leaders from President Obama?
Will he put engagement on indefinite hold? Or will he continue to engage them?
If it is the former then Obama will have demonstrated he's not for engagement at any price.
But if it is the latter then President Obama's words today would be meaningless and he would instead bestow legitimacy upon evil.