Andrew Exum has gotten a lot of coverage for his writings as Abu Muqawama now hosted at CNAS, the Obama administration's home think tank. This characterization has become more apt recently with the release of their piece Triage on Afghanistan and Pakistan. I'm not accusing them of changing their views to support softer power, but they certainly fit that mold. Exum takes some shots at Paul Wolfowitz and even Charles Krauthammer about their calls for a little spine from the White House.
No offense there Andrew, but I think Krauthammer has shown quite a bit more intellectual heft than you have managed yet, and your shots at him seem kinda lame. Plus your attempted ass-covering of the administration is pretty weak.
I don't think the Obama team supports the regime, but I think they have made the determination that they want to negotiate with them and so have cold-bloodely decided that they gain nothing from angering them. They expect the Mullahs will crush the rebellion and so making a stand for those seeking freedom and liberty would gain them only a few days of moral clarity. Supreme Leader Khameini already has blamed the US and the West so it's not really a case where we would have undermined the protesters. Their leaders own mouthpiece essentially asked for a little support.
I think that President Obama has decided there is nothing to be done about Iranian nukes and so is positioning to have better relations with the regime and hopefully contain them. These protests offer the possibility of derailing those efforts if he is seen as backing the protesters. I don't know if the protests have a chance of success, it seems unlikely, but it sure does point out where the administration is on the cause of freedom around the world. America has long stood as the loudest voice for freedom and liberty, but now we sit on the sidelines as President Sarkozy of France raises his voice against tyranny. Smart power that ignores those willing to die for their freedom doesn't seem so smart to me.
Exum ends with this smack talk
Perhaps you should begin by proving yourself right Andrew, you have said so little. And if the belief that negotiating with the Mullahs will fail is wrong, then 30+ years of track record is bat shit crazy.