SHIRIN EBADI, a 62-year-old Iranian lawyer who won the Nobel Peace Prize six years ago, is generally cautious and measured in her speech. She is a human rights lawyer who says that she does not involve herself in politics. She says that it’s not her job to favor one party over another, as long as the government respects people’s right to express themselves.
So it was startling this week to hear Ms. Ebadi say bluntly that the Obama administration has gotten some things backward when it comes to Iran. It’s not that engaging with the government is a mistake, she said during a visit to The Post. But paying so much more attention to Iran’s nuclear ambitions than to its trampling of democracy and freedom is a mistake both tactical and moral.
Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “is at the lowest level of popularity one can imagine,” Ms. Ebadi said. “If the West focuses exclusively on the nuclear issue, Ahmadinejad can tell his people that the West is against Iran’s national interest and rally people to his cause. But if the West presses also on its human rights record, he will find himself in a position where his popular base is getting weaker and weaker by the day.”