Most of you know about the unrest and protests happening in Iran. The question that people have been asking is what should we, as a nation, do about it? Here is what Senator John McCain has said here.
Basically, McCain is saying we should publicly side with the protesters because they are fighting for freedom and that is what America is all about. We should side with history because we’re right and we should publicly support people who fight for their freedoms.
While I do think that the protesters do have the right to fight against their regime, it would be a bad idea if the President actively supported the protesters. This would inflame the regime in Iran, which would put tighter restrictions on the protesters. Obama is doing the right thing by simply saying that the regime should not oppress the protesters. Let’s look at the argument McCain gives:
- We have a moral responsibility to publicly condemn any regime that represses people.
- Iran is a regime that represses people.
- Therefore, we have a moral responsibility to publicly condemn Iran. (Modus Ponens from 2, 3)
That’s a fair argument, but number one is questionable when it comes to politics. Publicly condemning regimes could actually make things worse for the people which would just make the regime even more oppressive. By saying these words, it’s similar to what Bush called Iran part of the “Axis of Evil”: it just inflames them and makes them even more furious toward us. Imagine if Spain called us the Great Satan of the World, you can get the the relations between us and Spain would be strained.
The brilliant Fareed Zakaria explains the situation in Iran in a recent article. He has made good predictions in the past and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s right again when he says:
We are watching the fall of Islamic theocracy in Iran. I don’t mean by this that the Iranian regime is about to collapse. It may—I certainly hope it will—but repressive regimes can stick around for a long time. We are watching the failure of the ideology that lay at the basis of the Iranian government.
Again, Zakaria talks about the situation in Iraq with Brzezinski about Obama’s policy toward Iran and the situation happening. By the way, Brzezinski is a realist and is considered the Henry Kissinger to the Democratic Party.
We need to not get involved, if we do, things will get worse. Yes, this may be a human rights issue, and I understand that principles and ideals matter, but we need to be practical here. There is a difference between the ideal world, and the real world. Let us deal with the real world, and then maybe we can work our way to the ideal. Starting with the ideal just makes things worse.
Another reply has been Bill Bennett here.
He goes even further and says we should be actual participants with the protesters. This is just dead wrong. This will inflame the Iranian regime even more. He even says we might as well meddling because they’re going to accuse us anyways. That’s a horrible argument. By analogy, that’s like saying:
- She is accusing me of rape.
- Therefore, I might as well rape her because she’s just going to accuse me anyways.
Mr. Bennett, that is a horrible argument. Again, when it comes to international politics, the key action is practicalities, not principles.
One more from John Bolton.
His argument basically follows thus:
- We need to side with the reformer and get involved.
- The way to do this is to overthrow the regime.
To Mr. Bolton, Mr. Bennett, and Senator McCain, you are dead wrong. Apparently, you have not learned the lessons of history. We did meddle in Iranian affairs ever since the 1950s. They had a democracy in the 1950’s and then we staged a coup in 1953 and replaced it with the Shah. The Shah was seen as an American puppet and the Iranian people couldn’t stand him. Finaly, the Iranian people got so fed up that they overthrew the Shah and replaced him with Sharia law and an Islamic theocracy. If we intervene again, they will think that it’s 1953 all over again. Indeed, they thought that was what was happening in 1979 and that created the Iranian Hostage Crisis. If we meddle in their affairs, it will be 1979 all over again. We must stay out of it. Through this, neoconservativism is seen as a defunct political philosophy. It’s time to get practical. I will end it with a message from Reza Aslan, an Iranian-American, who sums up nicely of our proper reaction to Iran.