Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Republicans Lost Iran

This came out a couple of weeks ago, and I keep meaning to link to it.

According to the L.A. Times piece, Nixon, Ford, Kissinger and Rumsfeld are largely responsible for destabilizing the Shah by insisting that he lower oil prices. This may very well be true as far as it goes, but it seems to me that Republicans are responsible in a much deeper sense.

Republicans like to blame Carter for "losing" Iran. But that's (a) false and (b) the wrong way to think about it. The problem is not so much that we lost Iran, but, rather, that Iran became our enemy. And that is the fault of Republicans, not of Carter. Eisenhower (whom, of course, I admire) blew it by taking out Mossadegh with Operation Ajax. After that, the Shah got more and more tyrannical. Carter inherited the Iran problems of the Nixon and Ford administrations, and by that point there was basically nothing he could do. The Shah had been too brutal, and the populace was steeled against him.

The real problem is the old Republican pattern: attend only to our narrow national interest, eagerly back evil tyrants, generate irresistable righteous indignation against our genuinely immoral policies. Then later sometimes argue that we have to go to war against the very tyrants we backed or nations we alienated.

My whole life Democrats have, basically, argued that if we made human rights a more central part of our foreign policy, we might sacrifice certain short-term gains, but the the long-term payoffs would more than balance out these losses.

Oh, yeah--and it's the right thing to do. Funny how flag-waving conservatives who can't quite talking about the excellence of America don't really seem to care about that very much..


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