If the United States is to learn anything about Iran it is that American foreign policy is substantially flawed and reckless. The US has a long history of a hundred years of brutal occupation, masked liberation, interventionist ideals, and proxy warring ambitions.
The fundamental question is whether United States foreign policy has truly served the national interest. Although sometimes it has, overtly interventionist policies and the meddling in intrastate affairs has often led to more enemies abroad, whether state or organization.
In regards to Iran, American foreign policy is shifting toward interventionism once again. On Wednesday, February 3rd, the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia held a hearing to discuss the United States’ prospected approach on handling the revolution in Iran. I need not mention the disasters of previous attempts to change governments in Iran on behalf of the US; however, the Subcommittee came to the same conclusion. The United States, in its ‘best interest’, would somehow support the Green Revolution in Iran.
The Subcommittee chairman, Congressman Gary Ackerman of New York, stated that comparing Iran to Europe would lead to disaster as what is happening in Iran is an entirely “indigenous movement.” The question he posed was “How can we help the Green Movement?”
Rather than asking how to avoid meddling in Iran’s domestic affairs, the entirety of the hearing surrounded the ideal of pure interventionism. What Congressmen Fortenberry, Royce, Rohrabacher, and others believed was that President Obama “hindered the Green Movement and peace of the World,” while simultaneously making the claims that he “hasn’t placed enough sanctions” on the Iranian government.
While there is no guarantee that the Green Movement will actually bring a more peaceful Iran, and placing sanctions on the Islamic Republic hasn’t made any progress in over thirty years it seems that no matter the ‘solution,’ the United States feels a continued need to intervene. The panel, which was made up of four academics in the field, suggested that whatever decision the administration made, the decision had to barrel down to intervention without any harm.
The naivety of this statement goes beyond it immediate comprehension. Dr. Khalaji, a Senior Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, testified that the United States, while forming an international alliance, must apply pressure to Ayatollah Khomeini and his military while “any policy should not influence the Green Movement in a negative manner.”
Other academics on the panel like Dr. Geneive Abdo from the Century Foundation made the claim that the US must “provide funding to keep websites against the government up,” because the Green Movement, “is dependent on social networks and the internet.”
The testimonies were music to the Congressmen’s ears. The policy was shifted as the Chairman of the subcommittee as well as many others agreed that the United States must mask its intervention under one of human rights, as suggested by Dr. Abdo. What was most trouble was the status quo that everyone in the room accepted.
Rather than questioning whether intervening was necessary at all, these elected officials questions how to intervene. This is the problem with American foreign policy. We are the country that holds the hammer and sees everything as a nail. Not only would sending American tax dollars abroad to help a revolution be an economic disaster for the US, but so is meddling in intrastate affairs.
Congressman Ackerman was right in saying that Iran is not Europe and should therefore not be treated as such. Then perhaps we should begin treating Iran like Iran and learn from history. After intervening twice with the country’s electoral system, one would have to question why the Committee is considering it once more if every moment we intervened only led to disaster for our national interest.
Barack Obama’s sanctions have only upheld the Bush doctrine and thirty years of isolation from the Islamic Republic while European businesses continue to do trade with Iran and China thrives off oil and market with Iran as well. If the United States truly wants to act in its best interest, perhaps isolation is not the best strategy and neither would be interventionism.
What these congressmen do not understand is that revolutions take their toll on their own. The American Revolution succeeded without the help of a foreign intervener (France aided us towards the very end, after the Revolution was well on its way to victory). The most our President should do at this point is wish the Green Movement the best of luck and promise trade and openness. Sanctions make enemies out of both the people and government of Iran.
The United States should seek trade and commerce, not an influx of hard power as seen in the last administration. If a nuclear weapon is a threat, perhaps Iran would never use one if its largest business partner is an American private firm. “Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations — entangling alliances with none, I deem [one of] the essential principles of our government, and consequently [one of] those which ought to shape its administration.”Published in