The political turmoil in Iran has brought new meaning to the maxim, "All politics is local." In the age of disappearing distances, the fallout from rigged vote-counting in Tehran, Shiraz or Esfahan presents local challenges and opportunities to politicians in Fort Wayne, Beirut or Tel Aviv. Just as authorities in Tehran prove incapable of stopping the flow of information out of the country, the impact of Iran's post-election crisis has also spilled across its borders, becoming an event with domestic repercussions around the globe.
In the West, the crisis in Iran has created a platform on which politicians can stand up for human rights and freedom. In countries ruled by autocratic regimes, the disturbances evoke the specter of potential unrest at home, creating nervousness even in countries that view the Islamic Republic as a threat. In places where Iranian influence is already a fact of life, the scenes coming from Tehran's streets suddenly evoke the possibility that local politics could, indeed, experience a transformation as a result.
In the United States, the reaction of President Barack Obama has predictably engendered a great deal of hand-wringing. Obama's stated aim of preventing Iranian authorities from blaming the U.S. for the unrest has sparked intense criticism at home. Republican congressmen demanded that America take a stronger stance in support of protestors. GOP leader Rep. Mike Pence pulled at the country's idealistic sensitivities, saying, "Some critics say America should stay silent, but I say from my heart, the American cause is freedom, and in this cause, its people will never be silent." While the president largely kept quiet, the U.S. Congress approved a resolution sharply condemning the government in Iran.