Iran – The Fallacy of Blowback

August 20, 2012 at 4:12 pm (tWP) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

In this outlet we are in favour only of a conditional intervention against Iran: provided the Arab states participate.

Thus, not toeing the neoconservative line of ‘harder, better, faster, stronger’ as far as an attack on Iran is concerned, there should be no suspicion of our being belligerent tout court.

It is important though to analyse the liberal-libertarian-marxian case against an attack on Iran and dispel the myth of blowback.

It is said for example that the reason why Iranians today hate America is due to the Anglo-American subversion of the Mossadegh government and their installing a repressive regime thereafter. According to this logic, not only has Western policy towards Iran been flawed through the years but so would more belligerence today lead to additional negative results.

First of all it should be said that Iranians don’t hate America – in fact they are one of the most westernised peoples in MENA – that British and Americans wanted only more control over the Iranian government and that they were not behind the repressive tactics – albeit having provided the training – that Iran prospered to become a major regional geostrategic power under US sponsorship and most importantly that the decision to separate Iran from the West geopolitically was taken by the revolutionary regime and not by the Iranian people.

In fact, the assertion that the Islamic revolution was detrimental to the West because Iranians as a people were enraged against Western interference is ludicrous: the Arab states financed Iraq’s war against Iran, Russia had attempted to annex parts of northern Iran during the Allied occupation of World War II, and yet there were no chants of ‘Death to Russia’ or ‘Arabs are the middle Satan’ after the ‘people’s revolution’. The truth is that the regime conducted anti-Western indoctrination and even if the average Iranian would not approve of external interference in Iranian domestic politics then and now, it is also true they realise Iran has been playing with fire unnecessarily for a long time – even though they support the nuclear programme, only the regime’s puppets go on marches to shout ‘death to America’.

American and British resolve to remove Mossadegh came about quite simply because Mossadegh offended his patrons in the Cold War by nationalising the Iranian oil industry. Undoubtedly his intentions were pure and patriotic but they were also misguided for Iran was not strong enough to stand on its own in a bipolar system dominated by the superpowers. It was Mossadegh’s foolhardiness that brought about the end of his government, not gratuitous interventionism on the part of the West – the only blowback was that of his policies against the West.

It is also not as if Iran was alien to interfering in the affairs of its neighbours. Its designs over the Persian Gulf and the Mashreq have been well known for centuries and surely the Iranians, knowing their own history are not blind to the routine of intervention in an anarchic international system.

The coup that removed Mossadegh bought the West an additional quarter century of control during the dangerous period of the Cold War. True statesmen always plan on the long-term but the plans are made to defend national interests, not those of any other state. It is too bad if interference in Iran causes Iranians to blindly rally to the flag in favour of an irrational regime but if one were to always wait for the right timing, nothing would ever get done.

Additionally, it is also false that blowback is an inevitable consequence of intervention. Given enough time and resources, an intervention can manage to legitimise itself. We have but to think of Iranian subversion of Lebanon, of Pakistani operations in Afghanistan, Israel bombing of Iraq, Russian intervention in Georgia, etc. 

Finally one must weigh the pros and cons of bombing Iran’s nuclear programme. What is more costly? To allow a fanatical regime to acquire all the invulnerability it needs to destabilise a pro-Western MENA? Or to spend a few millions in bombs and temporary high oil prices, and incur the also temporary wrath of the people of one single country who don’t even appreciate the regime that rules them?

Ultimately the logic of Liberals is that democracy is more important than the West, that regime is more important than state. The logic of Libertarians is that market forces will take care of a state’s interests and that non-interference will miraculously take care of those forces that are prejudiced or interested in thwarting Western interests. The logic of Marxians is that developing-countries inherently carry more moral authority than developed ones and whatever they do or risks they take, the outcome must always ‘justly’ benefit them in detriment of developed countries so as to equalise the world.

Liberals do America and the West a disservice because as democratic as any country may be, democratic peace theory is a fallacy and does not necessarily bring with it automatic sympathy towards or peace with the West. Libertarians are also counter-productive because without force and hard-power, many parts of the world would succumb to forces more influential than money. Marxians keep advocating a utopia with no practical incarnation and would find it difficult to justify an inevitable ‘levelling’ down of developed societies’ living conditions in favour of developing ones’.

This blog stood against the intervention in Iraq, it condemns any conventional attack on Syria and it also criticised the Libyan adventure. Iran is different and this is not an endorsement of an immediate attack on Iran but rather the apology of a consequential and rational debate, based on facts rather than myths: is it in the West’s interest to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons? Absolutely! Should the West attack Iran to accomplish this? Debatable. Should it be one of the possible options? Always.

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