Once, a generation ago, we citizens of the “free world” as we were known then, thought ourselves as conducting our lives under an umbrella. The umbrella had a name that inspired awe and respect, actually less respect and more awe: “the White House.”

And in this context, a personal memory comes up: when it was learned that president Nixon was about to resign over the Watergate affair, I was wandering the White House lawn. I immediately felt chills: who will protect us, the citizens of the free world, with the Soviet Union waiting for a crack to appear, for any sign of weakness, from its only rival, the United States?

Luckily for the citizens of the free world, the US constitution ensured that the vacuum created as a result of this unusual step, the president’s resignation, be filled. And no nuclear missiles were launched. However, then as now, all eyes are turned to Washington in light of the revelation of the deep undercurrents in Iranian society, and we can already ask: where are you President Obama?

The free world waited for the president’s words, and he, even in the more assertive statements he made on Sunday about events in Iran, is still projecting silence. A lengthy silence. And the world is watching: an enormous public of Iranian citizens rebels against the supreme ruler, Khamenei, and despite warnings of clashes with the guards of the regime, the public launched an insurrection. And the United States? It is missing the historic moment. True, Obama warned the Iranian government and asked to put an end to the acts of violence and the illegal steps taken against the citizens. But his statement was only made after pressure on him from home mounted, from the political arena.

This silence, incidentally, was explained by his not wanting to meddle in Iran’s domestic affairs. Excuse me? Since when does the US, the superpower, refrain from meddling in the domestic affairs of foreign countries? In the past it meddled in Iran a great deal. And there is no lack of other examples of blatant meddling, not just rhetorical, by American administrations. Ask, for example, historians of South America. Peek, if you can, into the archives of the CIA. But in the affair of the uprising in Iran, Obama suddenly forgot his art of rhetoric that won him applause after the “Cairo speech.”

Where is Obama’s “Iran speech” on the uprising? Obama spoke out only after both houses of Congress adopted sharp statements condemning the Iranian regime’s actions.

His limp statements are only the natural continuation of a policy that he wishes to pursue and which he declared back during his race for the presidency: the policy of dialogue with the regime of President Ahmadinejad. But this policy is collapsing even before it began to be implemented and before any quid pro quo was received from Iran regarding its nuclear program. It is unlikely to be revived. After all, even if Ahmadinejad survives, how will Obama be able to justify dialogue with a regime that in the eyes of many Iranians, and not just them, has completely lost its legitimacy? A number of the president’s predecessors in the White House were able to rise to the occasion at similar moments to the one we are experiencing at this time and hurled the truth at the regimes of evil.

To the explanation that blatant presidential meddling, even rhetoric, will “play into the hands” of the regime in Iran, it can be replied that the person who called the US the “great Satan” should not resent an ideological response. This is how presidents Truman, Reagan and others acted.

We can only hope that when the mighty storm in Iran dies down, the lesson will have been learned in Washington: one does not act with obsequiousness and flattery toward a regime of evil.

Conciliation, we have learned, has a shameful past.