In a press briefing at the Pentagon, U.S. Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called the Iranian regime a "loser," in the face of the popular revolts taking place in the Middle East:
"Iran is the real loser here, whether they want to admit it or not. They've had no hand in the change sweeping the region, except the one they have used to slap back their own people. Violence only begets more violence, while peaceful protests and government restraint can lead to meaningful dialogue and progress and a commitment to change, as we've seen in Egypt, Bahrain, and Tunisia."
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates agreed that the transformations taking place in the Mideast constitute a major setback for the Iranian government "now," he said, "and perhaps even more so in the future":
"Because the contrast between the behavior of the militaries in Tunisia and in Egypt and, except for a brief period of violence, in Bahrain, contrast vividly with the savage repression that the Iranians have undertaken against anybody who dares to demonstrate in their country."
That savage repression has continued, as thousands of Iranians again took to the streets this month in anti-government demonstrations spurred by the arrest of Iran's two top reformist leaders, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi and their wives. Opposition websites report that security forces confronted demonstrators with batons and tear gas and arrested hundreds.
In remarks at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took note of how Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has made a show of denouncing violence against protestors in Libya, yet whose security forces "have beaten, detained, and in several recent cases killed peaceful protesters" in Iran. Secretary of State Clinton said a simple question must be asked: "Why do people have the right to live free from fear in Tripoli, but not Tehran?"