Democracy Remains Biggest Bully in the Schoolyard

America gives Iran atomic wedgie
by Jack McGovern
Staff Argo Fuck Yourself


As heavy, U.S.-led sanctions on Iran continue, and Argo wins big at the Oscars, the question begs to be asked: why does the U.S. care about Iran so much?

Tehran has denied that its nuclear program of uranium enrichment is actually a weapons program, a denial the West repeats again and again. Repeat a lie enough times and it becomes the truth. President Obama, in response to the “threat” Iran poses to Israel and the world, has said that he will “continue to keep all options on the table.” Obama’s visit to Israel and Palestine last week included talks with Netanyahu about Iran. In late February, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) held their annual policy conference. You might have seen the recent John McCain video where he sings “Bomb Iran” to the tune of the Beach Boys fun-in-the-sun classic, “Barbara Ann.” There’s nothing more American than going to the boardwalk, drinking shakes, whistling at blondes, and then heading home to watch a firework show on CNN, right you old Maverick? What was it that George Washington said about European affairs? All I remember from school is that he had an apple tree. With a military budget that is estimated to be 2-4% of the United States’, (from an estimate taken a year ago, which used figures imagining if Iran’s budget was doubled) how does Iran continue to be vilified by Republicans and Democrats alike?

The Islamic Republic has been important to us for some time now. During WWII, there was the meeting of the Big Three in Tehran. Eight years later, in 1953, after Mossadegh (who was democratically elected) nationalized Iranian oil, a U.S.-British backed coup put the Shah in power. Twenty- six years passed and discontent with the Shah’s pro-Western regime culminated in the 1979 Revolution that kickstarted a tense relationship between the two nations that we know now. The hostage crisis was a textbook example of blowback, a term used to describe the unintended consequences of U.S. foreign policy. Ruohallah Khomeini, who came to power as a result of the revolution, was no angel himself. His regime’s cruelty, however, is exaggerated in the press precisely because of his anti-Western ideology.

As Jason Hirthler observes, an American advertisement from the seventies actively promoted Iranian nuclear energy. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. The U.S. was buddies with Saddam too, and provided him with weapons in a horrific war with Iran in the eighties. Just like Qaddafi and Mumbarak, Hussein no longer fit into the picture. But once uprisings broke out in Egypt and Libya, America had to denounce them as well; it’s hard to keep up appearances. The instability in the region is a sure sign that U.S. influence is waning. However, “Democracy” in the Middle East, as these examples show, is still whatever the U.S. says it is. If any more evidence is needed to prove that American foreign policy is not only reckless, but clueless in the region, look no further than another fact about the current state of affairs there: the U.S. is currently aiding radical Islamists and Sunni fundamentalists in Syria, and fighting them in Iraq. We’re no better than Raskolnikov.

Iran was fortunate enough to be included in Bush Jr.’s infamous ‘axis of evil.’ It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to call North Korea evil (right Dennis Rodman?), and although Saddam made Iraq a world of shit, it hasn’t fared much better since his overthrow. Iran’s citizens, however, do not live under conditions as poor as the other two members of the “axis of evil.” The Islamic republic has been described by some as an “as if” nation, meaning that their citizens live “as if” they had the personal freedoms that the citizens of Western countries enjoy. Elsewhere in the region, Pakistan and Israel have nuclear weapons (guess who helped them). Are those two countries responsible, unlike the big bad, homophobic Iranians? Never mind Saudi Arabia, where misogyny, homophobia and ‘backwardness’ is rampant too. Since Iran is an important U.S. ally in the region, this is ignored.

In short, Western powers have continuously exploited Iran and the Middle East to demonstrate their power, but also for the great abundance of oil the region just so happens to have. Khomeini’s regime is a theocracy that some see as dangerous, an example, perhaps, of the rise of religious fundamentalism. The oft-cited example of this is the fatwa placed on the novelist Salman Rushdie. From this perspective, criticism of U.S. foreign policy leads to a moral relativism where opposition to the U.S. and acts of “terrorism” are ignored or overlooked. No one can justify any form of “terrorism,” but the man with the briefcase can steal more money than the man with the gun.

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