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US: Time to surf the wave? Or stay out of the water?

Ben James Ben James | 09:25 UK time, Tuesday, 15 February 2011

AP - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton


Hillary Clinton's comments expressing "clear and direct" support for the latest protests in Iran are getting lots of coverage.

Remember when the Egypt protests were in their early days?

There was some criticism that America hadn't been forceful enough in its support for the demonstrators and their aims.

Today, while there's plenty of backing for Clinton's comments on Iran, America is also being criticised for getting involved; take this response to a tweet from CNN anchor Anderson Cooper:

@andersoncooper The brutality and hypocrisy of #iran. Praising #egypt protestors, but cracking down on their own. We're #kth. #ac360 10p

@animeh @andersoncooper Clinton guilty of same but in reverse

(Anderson Cooper also points out the complex responsein Iran to Egypt: both government and "Green" protest movement have claimed the Egypt revolution as a victory for their own politics.)

Here are some others from Twitter:

@wasapnin Mrs Clinton said that the US admin "very clearly & directly" supports protesters in Iran.she tok 2 weeks 2 decide in Egypt HYPOCRITE


@ChUmerInam Clinton: People of Iran deserve same rights as Egyptians - http://t.co/yOq2aVu !! Not as those of the Iraqis?

So some of the annoyance seems to stem from perceived inconsistencies: that America is weighing in more quickly and forcefully on Iran, because the US was friendly with Mubarak, but it certainly isn't with Ahmedinejad.

Some people also seemed miffed that the US is trying to surf on the crest of the protesters' wave - or to throw in another metaphor ...

@MichaelLee2009 #Clinton #USA tries to get on the bandwagon by expressing support for the small #Iran demonstration http://bbc.in/hwohIc #iranelection

He also implies America is trying to manufacture an Egyptian-style people's revolution in a country where it's not ready to happen.

Protests near Azadi Square in Tehran, Feb 14


Of course, we are talking about two separate countries - so can that explain away the perceived inconsistency? Or should America be identical in its response, whatever the country and its particular circumstances?

And if you thought they were slow to respond to Egypt, shouldn't you be pleased that they have more to say in Iran?

What more - if anything - should America now say about Yemen, and Bahrain, and Algeria, where protests have also taken place?

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