We don’t like Russia sabotaging western democracies including our own, do we? We’re disgusted that Vladimir Putin and Fancy Bear would have the gall to cyber-hack our election processes, steal our political party documents, and hoax the American people into voting for a candidate who is possibly one of his assets or agents. We denounce such underhanded behavior. Come 2018, perhaps we will even give a election-drubbing to the Party that benefited most from all this. That would be our revenge on such Russian sabotage of our democratic processes. And it would be well-deserved.
But not so fast. While we may be right to be outraged by Russia’s deliberate attempt to sow discord and weaken our nation (and other western nations as well), it’s not the only country engaged in this behavior. Who else does it? Why we do, of course.
Witness today’s announcement by the State Department that the U.S. government will seek to sow deliberate discord in Iran. Via direct and indirect attacks on the country and its institutions, we will try to weaken the regime and lead to its overthrow. Ostensibly, the goal of the program is to pressure Iran to end its nuclear program and its support for regional proxies. That would be quite difficult since the nuclear program is widely supported in Iran. The chance of dislodging this opinion is nil. As for ending support for proxies, that’s quite rich coming from us, the country with no end of proxies throughout the world, including a major one in the region itself, Israel.
Who the hell are we to tell other countries how to behave when our behavior is some of the most egregious historically. We’ve fomented revolutions, overthrown elected governments (including in Iran itself), assassinated hated adversaries, invaded sovereign countries, etc. Who in the world cares to pay attention to a country that says: “Do as I say, not as I do.”
Here is further information about the planned campaign which definitely should instill confidence in its effectiveness:
The current and former officials said the campaign paints Iranian leaders in a harsh light, at times using information that is exaggerated or contradicts other official pronouncements, including comments by previous administrations.
I’m always happy to hear a government announce that it plans to lie, cheat or steal in order to pursue its interests. And how’s this for more lying:
In a May 21 speech in Washington, Pompeo said Iranian leaders refused to spend on their people funds freed by the nuclear weapons deal, using it instead for proxy wars and corruption.
First, Iran has had precious little ‘freed’ by the suspension of Iranian sanctions under the Obama administration. Second, even if it did, Pompeo wouldn’t have a clue on where the money was spent. But someone else in the current administration does:
…In March testimony before a U.S. Senate committee, the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency director, Robert Ashley, said social and economic expenditures remained Tehran’s near-term priority despite some spending on security forces.
Apparently, Pompeo has his signals crossed with the Defense Department, which seems to believe that Iran’s current economic priorities are to improve or at least maintain social welfare programs and ameliorate some of the economic misery brought on by Trump’s impending sanctions regime.
It’s not like this sort of sabotage campaign hasn’t been tried against Iran before. Remember Operation Olympic Games? Stuxnet? The assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists? Fomenting of Sunni rebellions inside Iran? Israel and U.S. intelligence tried all these options. The former Mossad director, Tamir Pardo admitted during an Israeli TV interview that this approach failed. Did you hear that? F-A-I-L-E-D. So why not try it again?? It might succeed the second time, right?
Pompeo told another whopper here:
Pompeo also accused “Iran-sponsored Shia militia groups and terrorists” of infiltrating Iraqi security forces and jeopardizing Iraq’s sovereignty throughout the period of the nuclear agreement.
Well, not exactly. Iran sponsored militias spearheaded the fight against ISIS. Those with short memory (like Pompeo) might forget that the Islamist Sunni militants overran much of northern Iraq and significant portions of Syria as well. Who was the bulwark that resisted and turned the tide against this onslaught? Those same Iran-backed Shia militias.
And you can be sure that native Iranians will respond favorably to Mike Pompeo sidling up to the mega-rich Beverly Hills Iranian exiles who earned their lucre during the days of the Shah (and want his family restored to the Peacock Throne):
Pompeo will give a speech titled “Supporting Iranian Voices” in California and meet Iranian Americans, many of whom fled the Islamic Revolution that toppled Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
This isn’t a plan for an Iranian future. This is child’s fantasy of turning back the clock and returning to the days of Iranian yesteryear. If this is a U.S. diplomatic planned then we’re f***ed. So here’s a possible scenario. The implosion of the current regime, economic chaos, rioting in the streets, mass bloodshed. What do you think happens in that event? Who will come to the fore? The Reformists? The MeK? The monarchists? Are you kidding? The party that has its hands on the levers of power right now: the hardliners; the IRG. They will come to power. They will bring stability. But at quite a cost. Perhaps a military junta with Khamenei at its apex. The banishment of all democratic vestiges including elections.
Is that what our own hardliners like Pompeo and Bolton want? And Bibi too? Perhaps. Because then it will be so much easier to attack Iran directly. The world will frown on attacking a democratic Iran in which moderates hold power, however tenuously. But after a military coup, the world might stand by as the U.S., Israel, Saudi Arabia and its Sunni allies launch a massive attack on Iran. To what end, I do not know. They can’t possibly believe they can overthrow the IRG and force a puppet regime friendly to the west on the Iranian people.
While I agree with your post it is important to notice that it is a joint effort together with Israel to destabilise Iran internally. https://www.axios.com/israel-united-states-pressure-iranian-government-protests-e820d144-302c-40ec-8d31-88c2abd09640.html
The obvious difference being that Putin is trying to pit ordinary Americans against each other and subvert their popular will.
The United States, on the other hand, is trying to aid the ordinary Iranian overthrow Iran’s much despised, dictatorial government,
Now do you see the difference?
Richard Silverstein says
@ Frank: YOu’re an expert on Iran why? And how? You know Iran’s government is despised how? As for being “dictatorial,” you’re just mouthing empty slogans that have little bearing with reality. Iran is as truncated and imperfect a democracy as Israel is. In fact, an argument could be made that Iran is more democratic than Israel. So dictatorial? No. Authoritarian? Perhaps. But with Israeli theocracy and an ethno state taking root in Israel that description fits Israel pretty well too.
Whatever one thinks of Rouhani, he was elected in a realtively free and fair election. I can’t honestly say Trump was elected fairly. There was considerable subversion of the popular will, especially considering what the Russians did and the fact that he actually lost the popular vote.
If you want to argue the Iranian regime is despised, then who will take its place? The monarchists? MeK? The reformists? The IRG? Certainly, the first two are more despised than the current government. The reformers don’t have a chance in hell of taking over (unfortunately). That leaves the IRG. Who do you despise more? Rouhani or Soleimani? Now, if you say there’s no difference then we’ll know you’re either arguing in bad faith or ignorant.
I do not appreciate comment that are little more than ideological grandstanding.
“As for being “dictatorial,” you’re just mouthing empty slogans that have little bearing with reality.”
“Death to the Dictator”
Empty slogans, that come from the Iranian ‘street’.
Richard Silverstein says
@ Frank: OMG, Frank. You discovered a hundred Iranians who think that either Rouhani or Khamenei are a dictator. That seals it, Frank. You’ve proven it’s incontrovertibly true.
Look, there are millions of people who believe Trump is either a dictator or well on his way to becoming one. Ditto for Netanyahu in Israel. Does that make them one? We’re not there yet. Maybe we’re getting there. But not there yet. Nor is Iran. So stop with the overdramatization. It doesn’t work here.
Linda Furr says
The USA has become sick from hypocrisy. The only people who don’t know this are Americans.
Colin Wright says
…and if it is Iran that is the concern, who is that is pushing us into a futile, evil war with that country?
It’s not Russia. It’s Israel.
To switch metaphors, if Russia if the annoying juvenile delinquent who keyed our car, it is Israel that has cut our brake lines and talked us into taking a drive on a mountain road.
We can put up with Russia for a long time. We have put up with Russia for a long time. It is Israel that is leading us to perdition.
Richard Silverstein says
@ Colin Wright: Sorry, but no. No country with nuclear weapons and a murderous tyrant for a ruler is a juvenile delinquent. Not that Israel is a pushover by any means.
We have put up with Russia. But not with a megalomaniac like Putin. Stalin perhaps was worse. But he was constrained by WWII and conquering eastern Europe. He hadn’t gotten the bright idea to sabotage all of western democracy as Putin has.