A January 3 op-ed in the Los Angeles Times advocates that the Biden administration partially lift U.S. government sanctions on Iran to enable Iran to buy Covid vaccines. The op-ed is written by John W. Lambert, a former professor at the U.S. Navy Academy and a former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for Iran, and Bahman Baktiari, the executive director of the Baskerville Institute.
Why, isn’t that so nice? What a beautiful proposal that is. Why, doesn’t it just perfectly reflect how good and generous the American people are? The authors write, “If the Biden administration works out a COVID deal that facilitates shipments of vaccines to the Iranian people, it will win over the hearts and minds of millions in that country, strengthening the deep but frayed bonds of friendship between ordinary Americans and Iranians.”
What a crock! The U.S. government has been killing Iranians with its evil, illegal, immoral, and illegitimate system of sanctions for decades. And all that Lambert and Baktiari can do is call for a partial lifting of this deadly and destructive act of aggression against the Iranian people?
In fact, the op-ed serves as a valuable lesson for libertarians who advocate reform-oriented, gradualist, or piece-meal measures to achieve liberty. By focusing on only the Covid consequences of the U.S. sanctions system, people could well get the impression that the rest of the sanctions system is morally acceptable, for no where in the op-ed do the authors condemn the overall evil nature of the entire U.S. sanctions system against Iran.
The authors open their op-ed with this revealing paragraph:
The Islamic Republic of Iran has been a recurring problem for every American administration since 1979. Seeing how previous administrations’ policies failed, every new administration has wrestled with how to confront, contain, persuade or negotiate with a country that has remained constantly hostile.
Do you notice anything that is missing in that paragraph? What’s missing is why Iran became a “problem” in 1979. That was the year that the U.S. government, operating though the CIA, intentionally, deliberately, and maliciously destroyed Iran’s experiment with democracy and replaced it with a U.S.-supported evil, brutal, tyrannical regime under which the Iranian people were made to suffer for the next 26 years.
In 1953, the CIA instigated a coup in Iran that succeeded in ousting the democratically elected prime minister of the country, Mohammad Mossadegh, from power and reinstalling the brutal tyranny of the Shah of Iran.
Why did the CIA do that? CIA officials maintain that it was because Mossadegh was leaning toward communism, a philosophy (and a supposed international conspiracy supposedly based in Russia) that, they said, posed a grave threat to U.S. “national security.” Another possible reason was to enable British oil companies to regain their oil interests in Iran after Mossadegh had nationalized them.
Oh, but that wasn’t all. The CIA then proceeded to train the SAVAK, the unelected Shah’s domestic police force that was a combination FBI, CIA, NSA, and Pentagon. The CIA trained this domestic force in the arts of torture, oppression, and other aspects of tyranny.
Oh, but that still wasn’t all. For the next 26 years, U.S. officials flooded U.S. taxpayer money and U.S.-provided weaponry into the coffers of the Shah, thereby enabling him to maintain his evil, iron grip over the Iranian people. Anyone who dare to speak out against this U.S.-supported evil quickly found himself in a dungeon and subjected to the tools and training provided or funded by the U.S. government.
According to Lambert and Baktiari, that pre-1979 period was one of “friendship” between the America and Iran, no doubt because of the close relationship between U.S. government officials and the Shah and his henchmen. But the Iranian people who were made to suffer under this U.S.-supported tyranny did not find it so friendly. In 1979, the Iranian people had had enough of this “friendship.” Risking their lives at the hands of the U.S.-supported Shah, many of them violently revolted and succeeded in ousting the Shah from power. Unfortunately, however, they were unsuccessful in reinstating the democratic system that the CIA had intentionally destroyed.
You don’t get this 1953-1979 history in the Lambert-Baktiari op-ed. All you get is how the U.S. government has tried so hard to deal with a “country that has remained constantly hostile” since 1979.
Does it not occur to Lambert and Baktiari that Iran has had reason to remain “constantly hostile” toward the U.S. government, especially since the aim of the CIA and the rest of the U.S. national security establishment since 1979 has been another regime-change operation in which another evil and tyrannical pro-U.S. regime is installed, like that of the Shah?
And why shouldn’t a country be hostile to a regime that has imposed economic sanctions for decades that knowingly and deliberately target innocent civilians with death and economic privation as a foreign policy tool? Who wouldn’t be hostile to such a regime, especially those millions of Iranians who have been impoverished or suffered the death of loved one owing to U.S. sanctions?
The fact is that the U.S. government has no legal or moral authority to inflict sanctions on Iran at all, including but not limited to preventing Iran from acquiring the Covid vaccine. In fact, there is no constitutional or moral authority that justifies any U.S. intervention in Iran, dating all the way back to 1953 and continuing to this date.
The U.S. government has killed, tortured, impoverished, and otherwise tyrannized people in Iran long enough. It should not simply engage in some sort of pseudo-beneficent act of permitting Iran to get some Covid vaccines. It should instead immediately lift all sanctions against Iran, butt out of Iranian affairs permanently, come home, and leave the Iranian people alone.