On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” former Georgia senator Sam Nunn on Sunday served as a defender of President Barack Obama’s cautious approach to the chaos in Iran.
Republicans, including U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, who holds Nunn’s old seat, have questioned Obama’s restrained reaction to the Iranian government’s violent efforts to quell the street protests.
Certainly, I don’t think there’s any mistake whatsoever in the Middle East or anywhere else that President Obama is basically supporting the right of the people to vote and to make their influence known and not to be repressed.
You know, Winston Churchill said a long time ago that no matter how beautiful the strategy, occasionally you have to look at the result.
The result here is that we are not the story. We have been the great Satan over there for the last 30 years. We’re not the story. Freedom, liberty is the story, the repression of the regime is the story. So I think we’re positioned about right.
But Nunn did call the reaction to this month’s re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “a big game changer, just as the Iranian revolution was a game changer in the 1970s, late 1970s.”
More from the transcript:
Nunn: So I think we’ll have to rethink our strategy, but I think the basic part of engagement is going to continue, and I think that’s necessary. We engage not only because the Iranians are building a nuclear weapon and that’s of vital interest, we engage because the rest of the world expects us to engage.
And if you’re going to take tougher steps later and you want the world on board, they have to know that you’ve done everything you can to talk. But it is going to be…
David Gregory: So sitting down is important.
Nunn: Yes. But you got to wait and see who you’re going to sit down with. I think there’s a real debate, not just on the streets, but I think there’s a debate in the clergy in Iran now.
We may see a lot of things happen there that right now are unpredictable. But it’s also a dangerous situation, and I think the restraint that we’ve showed — shown so far has been about the right course.
Obama’s foreign policy has tracked many of the positions laid out by Nunn, who served as an advisor his 2008 presidential campaign. But you can also consider the former Georgia senator a bellwether on the gays-in-the-military issue, which was also discussed.
Nunn was an author of the don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy that began in the 1990s, and said the approach needs to be re-examined. That’s not news. But there was also this:
Nunn: I would go very carefully and prudently. We’ve got a lot of strain on our military forces right now.
And I would listen to the military, I would let them prepare not only for letting the country know how we’re doing now with that policy, but also what would rules look like if you change the policy. It’s not simply saying repeal the policy.
Gregory: Do you…
Nunn: It’s what replaces it.
Gregory: Do you think [Obama will]repeal it in the first term?
Nunn: I don’t know. I don’t know. I think there’ll be a vigorous debate, and there should be a real debate.
While you ponder the above, consider these items found while perusing this morning’s ajc.com:
Metro Atlanta property values take $5 billion hit. MARTA riders brace for fare and parking fee hikes. Tax breaks as development tools are becoming a tougher sell, if the DeKalb fight is any guide. The link between Attorney General Thurbert Baker’s contracted help, and his campaign contributions. The U.S. Supreme Court could rule on the Voting Rights Act as early as this week. A sidelined Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle is on the mend, at peace. The frustration of individual health insurance in Georgia. He’s conservative, confident and 14. Atlanta mayoral candidates discuss budget plans. An early look at the race for Atlanta city council president. Obama nominates Martin to federal appeals court.
Your Luckovich fix. Bob Barr on the revolution by cell phone in Iran. Cynthia Tucker says the market won’t fix health care. Jim Wooten has one more story to tell before he goes. Michael Thurmond on the importance of schools in the Great Recesssion.
From elsewhere in Georgia:
MDJ: Roy Barnes says, “We need some non-crazy leadership.” InsiderAdvantage: Slumping tax collections prompt talk of a special session. SMN: Eric Johnson wants to stay “under the radar and out of the crossfire.” Georgia Trend: On the candidate who has hooked himself to a lie detector.
NYT: States turning to last resorts in budget crisis. WSJ: Iran’s Guardian Council findS the number of votes in 50 districts exceeded the number of voters. WP: The recovery’s missing ingredients: New jobs.
For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.