People influenced by Western propaganda, including our intellectuals, misinterpret the lessons we must learn from the Cold War. Casting the growing Islamist resistance against U.S. hegemony in the Middle East in terms of evil fighting enlightenment is primary among the misperceptions. In a variant of this shallow worldview, it has become an article of faith even among skeptics that denouncing Iran is necessary whenever Euro-American aggression in Persian Gulf is condemned. An analysis Trita Parsi published recently in The American Conservative suffers from such Cold War thinking.
But given the non-symmetry between the Islamic Republic and the dangerous Western powers arrayed against it, the familiar "no to theocracy, no to empire" neutrality is anything but enlightened. By implying that "U.S. interests" in the region are legitimate, as he often does, Parsi confuses our expatriate community. Thus although he's working tirelessly to prevent a new war, he inadvertently gives credence to the illusion that defending Iran's national sovereignty is questionable and inaction is morally acceptable.
Seeing aggressor-versus-aggressor parity in Persian Gulf ignores the uneven playing field, much as the media's misrepresentation of the Israeli-Palestinian impasse as a mutual "cycle of violence" does.
What passed for even-handed condemnation before the United States attacked Yugoslavia in 1999 and Iraq in 1991 and again in 2003 did nothing for equal justice afterwards. America's presidents who ordered the bombings are living pampered lives and protected by the Secret Service 24/7, while the attacked nations are decapitated and utterly devastated and their territories are disintegrating before our eyes.
Still, many of the "enlightened" commentators who refused to unequivocally condemn U.S. aggression remain unrepentant. France's new Foreign Minster, Bernard Kouchner, for example, is again speaking out of both sides of his mouth, this time with respect to Iran.
One week before Iraq was invaded, in a talk that, according to the Harvard Gazette, "straddled the line between war and peace," then-professor Kouchner "criticized both [the Bush administration and his French critics] in the ongoing international debate" and "counseled [antiwar] protesters to include anti-Hussein slogans among their banners and signs in the future.". His similar position on Iran as foreign minister is providing the cover many lesser public figures need to unfairly condemn Iran's foreign policy as hegemonic.
Pretending that Iran's defense of its national sovereignty amounts to competing with Washington for regional hegemony is disingenuous. Drawing a parallel between Euro-American and Iranian "meddling" in Iraq and Lebanon would be sensible only if Iran had 200,000 troops and100,000 private military contractors in Canada and Mexico and aircraft carrier battle groups assembled off the coast of New York. Or if Iran, like the U.S., had an unbroken 150 year record of military aggression and coup plots in other nations near and far. In reality, Iran has not started a war in over two centuries.
Yes, implying that Israel and its Western backers are as much victims of an overreaching enemy as Iran is, marginally pleases our few tentative allies in the Washington establishment. But it is also a distorted characterization that is leading to wrong conclusions for "ensuring the safety of the democracies." To the extent that real terrorism is exported from the Middle East today, almost all of it comes from the international jihadi forces trained and armed during the 1980s by the none other than the United States, with the help of its Pakistani and Saudi allies, in Afghanistan.
To anyone willing to see through the fog of anti-Iranian propaganda, it is apparent that what so irritates the Western alliance about Iran is Tehran's determination to make a dent in the disparity that robs so many less aggressive nations of self determination. Iran was not consulted when the world's bullies decided "might is right." It's the United States, not Iran, that has consistently defied the will of the international community, ignored UN Security Council resolutions, and breached multilateral covenants such as the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
In the glaring aftermath of the devastating air campaign against Yugoslavia and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq - all in the space of a decade and all illegal under international law - Iran would be insane to disarm, as Iraq did under Saddam Hussein, to appease the West.
Our Iranian-American commentators who
find it expedient to draw a moral equivalence between Washington and Tehran
should consider how such confusion reduces our immigrant community to