Simon Rosenberg asks a very interesting question, given all the coverage given to the Iran protests today:

As the “world watches” what is happening in Iran, I’ve been wondering how the extraordinary images coming from Iran are going over in Caracas, Riyadh, Beijing, Moscow and the corridors of power of other less than democratic governments.   The events of the past week have raised the issues of political freedom and liberty in ways that are not always easy for the West to do.   My sense is that whatever the outcome in Iran – and we have to hope for the best each day – these events, coupled with the rise of Barack Obama in the US, are putting some issues on the global table that may be uncomfortable indeed for many important nations in the world today.

This is dead on.  Which then leads me to two observations.

1.) Barack Obama is a powerful man.  Yes, the events in Iran would have happened with George W. Bush at the helm, but given the citizen-centered campaign he just ran with that incessant use of global technology, and the speech he just gave to Muslims all over the world, is there any doubt that at least a piece of this was generated by Obama’s rise?

2.) Iran is still a headache, as it’s part of the perpetual pain in the ass that is the Middle East.  But what many hardliners might think of as “soft” foreign policy seems to be the most effective here.  All of a sudden, Obama’s refusal to interfere takes away Iran’s ability to blame things on the U.S.  It has to live with its own mistakes.

Talk about a difference in approaches.  Bush would rather go into a sovereign country with guns blazing.  Obama would rather back out while observing the sovereign nation carry out its own processes.  So far, the latter seems to be more effective than the former.