Mr Krauthammer,Neoconservatives think it's all about them. More than that, they think that the clashes in Iran somehow validate them.
I never thought I would open an letter to you with a word of thanks. To be honest, I have almost never agreed with your past quarter-century of syndicated polemic in US newspapers and magazines. I respect your right to hold an opinion and your skill in writing. However, I find that your analysis is more often propelled by rigid belief rather than evidence, whether that belief is a specific objective (the unbending advocacy of Israel, whatever the circumstances) or a general aspiration, such as your call for an American “unipolar era” in which all others would bow to the dominance of the United States.
Yet I must note that, in your column on Friday, “2009: The Year of Living Fecklessly”, you ostensibly recognised the post-election demonstrations in Iran as a “new birth of freedom”. I am not sure exactly what a “new birth” is — I have found that most Iranians with whom I communicate have a long-held desire for freedom — but any acknowledgement of the public calls for justice and rights is to be welcomed.
So, thank you. And now a request: Go Away.
Please go away now and do not return to Iran as the setting for your political assaults. For — and let this be acknowledged widely, if not by you than by others — the “Iranian people” whom you supposedly praise are merely pawn for your political games, which have little to do with their aspirations, their fears, and their contests.
Let us recognise that your column begins with an attack on the “feckless” Barack Obama. The Iranian case, and specifically the US negotiations with Tehran over its nuclear programme, is the platform for another front in your continuing assault on the President. So if I agree with you that the nuclear-first approach gives “affirmation” to an embattled Iranian Government — and I do — that agreement starts from a desire not to bolster President Ahmadinead in the current domestic crisis in Iran, rather than your own domestic crisis with an American leader from a political party you do not like.
Let us recognise that your own supposed defence of the Iranian people is propelled by your own nuclear conceptions, bolstered by your emphasis on Israel: “Iran will dominate 2010. Either there will be an Israeli attack or Iran will arrive at — or cross — the nuclear threshold.” For, if this piece was completely honest, you would have informed your readers, and the Iranian people, that you have supported Israeli airstrikes. In the columns offering that support, you made no reference to how “a new birth of freedom” would be affected by missiles fired upon Iran. Your frame of vision was limited, as if this was a journalistic smart bomb, to the target of the Iranian regime.
Let us recognise that, if there is a context for you beyond this nuclear arena, it is a supposed geopolitical struggle in which an “Iran” confronts the American presence in the Middle East and Central Asia and participates in the regional battle with Israel. Thus, your support of a “revolution” is not for what it brings Iran’s people — who, incidentally, may not be protesting for a “revolution” or, more specifically, a “counter-revolution” against all the ideals of 1979 — but for “ripple effects [which] would extend from Afghanistan to Iraq (in both conflicts, Iran actively supports insurgents who have long been killing Americans and their allies) to Lebanon and Gaza where Iran’s proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas, are arming for war”.
(Had I the time and patience to dissect your geopolitical construction, I might note that US officials have been quietly talking to Iran about co-operation in the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan — strange behaviour indeed if Iran is allied with the Taliban and the Sunni Al Qa’eda in Mesopotamia —- or that Hezbollah and Hamas cannot be reduced to puppets of Tehran masters. I know, however, that this would be logic falling on your stony ground of politics and ideology.)
Let us recognise, therefore, the slip of the pen in your sentences, when you refer to the apparent silence of Washington to the call of Iranian demonstrators, “Obama, Obama, you are either with us or with them”: “Such cool indifference is more than a betrayal of our values. It’s a strategic blunder of the first order.” The slip is not your implicit confession that it’s the “strategic” that really concerns you — if these protesters were far removed from your strategy for American power, you wouldn’t hear a word they were saying — but in “our values”.
Assertion of “our” values does not mean acceptance of “their” values; it ignores them or, at most, wedges them into the framework of power that you find acceptable. Simply putting out the word “freedom” as if it were a universal umbrella for any proposal that follows does nothing to acknowledge, let alone, consider the complex negotiation of religious, social, economic, and political beliefs that has propelled movement inside Iran not just for the last six months but for decades.
Let us recognise, therefore, that you can throw out supposed solutions for “them”, not because they are considered measures but because they fit a model of “regime change” which is yours, not necessarily “theirs”. You advocate, “Cutting off gasoline supplies”, even though that cut-off might do far more harm to the “Iranian people” than to the regime you are condemning. You merrily think of “covert support to assist dissident communication and circumvent censorship”, even though overt calls of covert support play into the hands of an Iranian Government invoking the spectre of “foreign intervention”. (Far better to be open, in the name of the values of freedom and communication, in proposing overt funding of anti-censorship and anti-filtering programmes, as well as the encouragement of unrestricted media.)
Let us recognise, indeed even find common ground on, “robust rhetorical and diplomatic support from the very highest level: full-throated denunciation of the regime’s savagery and persecution”. Let us do so, however, not because that denunciation supports your strategy of regime change for the sake of American power — just as your denunciation of Saddam Hussein merely propped up your campaign for years to extend a US economic, political, and military presence through the “liberation” of Iraq — but because that denunciation fulfils a morality and ethics beyond “your values”.
Let us recognise that I could have written this letter not only to you but to a legion of others who, in recent weeks, have embraced the “Iranian people” as their vehicle for regime change. Outlets like the Wall Street Journal and the Weekly Standard put forth former Bush Administration officials and former activists for the Iraq War who now see a new platform for a US power which was not fulfilled in the military ventures of 2001-2009. Let us recognise that, in those calls, the “Iranian people” serve as pawns in a game beyond their own concerns.
After all these recognitions, let me conclude by returning to my thanks to you. For — I am certain unwittingly — you have re-affirmed this central belief:
This is not “our” regime change, “our” revolution; “our” values. This is “their” movement.Please respect it as such. If you cannot, move on. Thank you.
They don't. They never have. They never will. Neoconservatism is an outdated, discredited ideology; its only value was in, perhaps, serving as a foil to realism that broke apart the neoliberal/neorealist axis that dominated thought in international relations for so long. But all of its worthy ideas about values and mores in international security have been better expressed by the constructivists, and its views on internal organization were either totally incoherent or simply evil.
The nations of the world is not their playground, Iran least among them. You already screwed up two wars and damned near lost the Cold War; had Gorbachev not been a great man and great peacemaker, your blithering nonsense would have killed us all.
Scott Lucas is absolutely right. For the sake of all of us, GO AWAY.