The presidential advisor for press affairs to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has an interesting op-ed in the Los Angeles Times today. Pointing out that Barack Obama’s offer to talk to the Iranian regime is nice, Ali Akbar Javanfekr pointed out that words alone are insufficient, especially if the U.S. government persists in conducting an aggressive and interventionist foreign policy.
Javanfekr specifically pointed to (1) the U.S. government’s surreptitious 1953 coup in which it ousted the democratically elected prime minister of Iran, Mohammed Mossadegh, from office and installed a cruel and brutal Iranian U.S. puppet in his stead, who proceeded to terrorize and torture the Iranian people for the next 25 years, with the support of the U.S. government; and (2) the U.S. government supported Saddam Hussein in his war of aggression against Iran, a war which caused the deaths of one million Iranian people.
What is fascinating to me is how so many conservatives, neo-cons, and liberals fail to recognize the morally degeneracy of U.S. foreign policy. It’s as if they have just resigned themselves into accepting that the U.S. Empire is now a permanent feature in American life and the life of the world and, therefore, that anything it does should automatically be considered good and moral.
I recently witnessed this phenomenon in a debate on Afghanistan that was sponsored by the Donald and Paula Smith Foundation in New York City. (The video of the debate has not yet been posted but when it is, I’ll let you know in a blog post.) If you’ll watch it, I think you’ll be as fascinated as I was by the reaction of neo-con Max Boot, formerly of the Wall Street Journal and now a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, to my charge that U.S. foreign policy is “morally degenerate.”
I blogged on one aspect of Boot’s angry reaction to my “moral degeneracy” charge immediately after the debate. That was in reference to my pointing out the apparent willingness of pro-Iraq War supporters to sacrifice any number of Iraqis, no matter how high, to achieve “democracy” in Iraq, even while simultaneously supporting the brutal non-elected military general in Pakistan who took power in a coup and who refused to permit elections in the country.
Boot reacted by interrupting me and angrily stating that he was deeply concerned about the plight of the Iraqi people. He pointed out that Saddam Hussein, the brutal dictator that he was, would have killed many more Iraqis than the U.S. government has.
Yet, during the Q&A session Boot’s response to one of the questions was fascinating and revealing. Someone asked him about the U.S. government’s support of Saddam Hussein during the 1980s. Boot blithely responded that the U.S. government was supporting Saddam to help him defeat Iran, which the U.S. government was then opposing.
How about that? On the one hand, Saddam is an evil dictator who needs to be ousted from power, even if it costs the lives of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, and, on the other hand, he needs to be supported when he’s killing Iranians as part of his war of aggression against that country.
Why were U.S. officials helping Saddam to kill Iranians? In 1979 Iranians had the audacity to oust the cruel and brutal Shah of Iran, who the U.S. government has installed into power with a coup in 1953.
Foreigners aren’t supposed to do that to the U.S. Empire. They are expected to accept the ruler that the Empire selects for them and submit to his control, no matter how cruel and brutal such control is. When the Iranian people ultimately ousted the Iranian ruler that the U.S. Empire had selected for them, that marked them for punishment, including sanctions, isolation, condemnation, animosity, war, and death.
If you ultimately watch the NYC debate, you’ll see that my description of all this as “morally degenerate,” obviously struck a sensitive chord within neo-con Boot. Throughout the debate, he mocked the use of the term, even while doing his best to ignore the substantive argument behind the term.
Contrary to the hopes of Iranian officials, the solution to America’s foreign policy woes lies not with Barack Obama. It is obvious that he is stuck in the morally degenerate foreign policy of empire and interventionism that has held our nation in its grip for decades. Instead, the key to getting our nation back on the right track — the track toward freedom, peace, prosperity, harmony, and morality — lies with us, the American people. When a critical mass of Americans finally decides to restore a constitutional republic to our land, that monumental shift in a positive direction will follow.