Friday, June 19, 2009

Obama Sends Sterner Message to Iran from His Personal Blackberry, But Experts Say His Use of Emoticons “May Cloud Message”

As millions of Iranians took to the streets to oppose a theocratic dictatorship, President Obama remained silent for several days, then spoke only tepidly in opposition to the brutal government crackdown on protesters demanding a more democratic Iran.

In an initial statement, Obama said he supported the continued “dialogue” in Iran but wished to avoid “meddling” in its affairs. Roundly criticized by all sides of the political spectrum for such timid remarks in support of liberty and democratic principles, Obama said yesterday that he sent a “sterner” message to the Iranian regime from his personal Blackberry.

But foreign policy analysts immediately expressed concern with the message’s “heavy use of emoticons” that may “muddy the import of its meaning.”

The message, reproduced in the accompanying picture, states “Dear Supreme Leader (and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad)” and begins with “Let me take this opportunity to clarify my earlier remarks.”

“A promising beginning,” remarked one foreign policy expert, “but then you see the emoticon,” referring to the characters :-} indicating “embarrassed smile.”

The next sentence of the message, “I want you to know that I support the protesters,” is followed by the emoticon *<:-) which analysts say indicates “Who do they think I am, Santa Clause?” The message continues “But I also respect your authority to maintain order,” followed by the ;-) “mischievous wink” emoticon. The penultimate sentence reads “I know that democracy can only be maintained if a country follows the rule of law,” which ends with the characters =[:-= , which one expert said “either refers to Abe Lincoln, or the medieval torture device known as the rack.” The message ends with “Please also understand that I do not mean for this email to be seen as meddling in your affairs,” and the accompanying characters 12@>-->-- which, according to experts, is the universally recognized “dozen roses” emoticon representing “abject apology.”

The email is signed “Your friend in denuclearization, Barack.”

When Iranian foreign officials were asked their reaction to the new “sterner” message, they said they had not yet seen it, and that “It probably got sent to the spam folder.”

Associated article: