Given the ongoing tensions between the U.S. government and the Iranian regime, it is not surprising that Wall Street Journal editorial board member Dorothy Rabinowitz brought up Iran in her attack on Ron Paul’s libertarian views on foreign policy.
What was disappointing, again, was the superficial level of her attack. Here was an excellent opportunity to show people the nature of the interventionist mindset, how it applies specifically to Iran, and how it differs from that of libertarians.
Instead, Rabinowitz limited her remarks to mocking Ron Paul over a statement that Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made long ago about wiping Israel off the map and Ahmadinejad’s denial of the Holocaust.
What a shame because Rabinowitz missed the opportunity to discuss Iran in the context of a central issue of her op-ed whether U.S. foreign policy ever engenders so much anger and hatred for the United States that the victims are motivated to retaliate with acts of terrorism.
Consider, for example, the CIA-instigated coup in Iran in 1953, which ousted the democratically elected prime minister of the country from office and replaced him with a brutal unelected dictator, one who continued oppressing the Iranian people for the next 25 years.
It would have been fascinating to read Rabinowitz’s take on the CIA coup. Does she believe that the U.S. government was justified in destroying Iran’s experiment with democracy and installing a brutal U.S.-supported dictatorship in its stead? Does she consider the CIA’s coup an act of war against a sovereign and independent regime? Does she consider it an act of goodness for the benefit of the Iranian people? Does she justify the coup by resorting to the old time-honored mantra of the national-security state, national security?
Equally important, how does she perceive the reaction of the Iranian people upon learning what the CIA had done to their country? Does she feel that Iranians became angry over the coup? Or does she take the position that it is inconceivable the coup would generate anger among Iranians given that a friend of the United States was installed into power?
When the Iranian revolution occurred in 1979, after 25 years of brutal and oppressive U.S. government-supported dictatorship, some of the revolutionaries took U.S. diplomats hostage, which was clearly an act of terrorism. What would Rabinowitz say about that? Would she say that the terrorist retaliation had nothing to do with what the CIA had done 25 years before and nothing to do with the U.S. governments support of the Iranian dictatorship for the previous 25 years? Would she say that the terrorism was instead motivated by hatred for Americas freedom and values? Indeed, would she argue that Americas freedom and values encompass the authority of the U.S. government to engage in regime-change operations in countries whose regimes are headed by officials who don’t kowtow to the U.S. government?
Again, we don’t know the answer to those questions because, unfortunately, Rabinowitz’s attack on Ron Paul, while long on superficialities, was short on substance.
Consider the recent alleged assassination plot on American soil that U.S. officials claimed was orchestrated by the Iranian government. Weren’t interventionists angry and outraged over it? Didn’t they consider it to be an act of aggression? Weren’t they calling for military retaliation against Iran?
Yet, at the same time, such interventionists cannot understand why Iranians would get angry over a successful CIA-instigated coup in their country that destroyed their experiment with democracy and subjected them to a brutal unelected dictatorship for the next 25 years.
Indeed, there is significant evidence that the U.S. military and the CIA are currently engaged in covert assassinations of atomic scientists in Iran. What do U.S. interventionists say about that? They think its inconceivable that Iranians would get angry over such a thing and, in any event, that such anger would be unjustified.
And what about the deadly and destructive effects of the U.S. sanctions against Iran? Does Rabinowitz concede that they might engender anger and hatred for the United States among the Iranian people? Alas, we don’t know because she chose not to address that critically important issue.
In her article, Rabinowitz mocked the assertion that Iran might want to acquire a nuclear bomb for defensive purposes.
Yet, consider the fact that there are no regime-change operations directed at North Korea, which U.S. officials placed in the same axis of evil in which they placed Iran. Why the difference in treatment? North Korea has acquired a nuclear weapon, one that is clearly not being fired at the United States but instead has succeeded in deterring a U.S. regime-change operation in North Korea, unlike, say, the situation in Iraq, where the regime had no nuclear weapons and where the U.S. government did succeed in effecting regime change with a brutal military invasion and a deadly nine-year military occupation.
Might that not explain why Iran might try to acquire a nuclear weapon? Why cant interventionists see that?
And therein lies a big part of the problem with the interventionist mindset: Interventionists simply cannot place themselves in the shoes of foreigners who are the victims of U.S. foreign policy. All they can think about is being in the shoes of the U.S. Empire, as it treads across the globe, killing, maiming, kidnapping, renditioning, incarcerating, torturing, and abusing people in the process of trying to install pro-U.S. regimes into power, which interventionists say must all be good because it is being done by the U.S. Empire.
Alas, Rabinowitz fails to discuss any of this. Instead, she limits her superficial attack on Ron Paul to some statement that Ahmadinejad made years ago about wiping Israel off the map and his denial that the Holocaust took place.
Yet, throughout the Cold War conservatives were saying the same thing about the Soviet Union that Ahmadinejad said about Israel how they wanted to see the Soviet Union wiped off the map. While it is true that many officials in the Pentagon favored a first-strike nuclear attack on the Soviet Union during the Cold War, most conservatives were simply hoping that the Soviet Union would collapse and disintegrate i.e., be wiped off the map of its own accord, which it ultimately was.
What about Rabinowitz’s complaint that Ahmadinejad has denied the Holocaust? Libertarians hold that the God-given rights of freedom of thought and freedom of speech entail the right to believe and say whatever people want, no matter how despicable. But I suppose that’s just one more difference between libertarians and conservatives.