Iranians’ revolt against the Islamic republic is here to stay
Iran, said President Carter in 1978, “is an island of stability in one of the most troubled areas of the world.” It didn’t take long for this confident avowal to prove erroneous. Just over a year later, Iran’s shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, would be forced into exile, with a clutch of hysterical mullahs led by Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini taking his place. Iran’s vaunted stability turned out to be a mirage, and the Islamic revolution has been a source of trouble in the region ever since.
A little more than 40 years later a similar conviction has taken hold regarding the staying power of the regime seated in Tehran. This fashionable fatalism claims that, whatever its problems or the designs of its enemies, the Islamic republic is here to stay.
But there is ground for skepticism about this reigning complacency, and not only because the stability of an autocratic government is fiendishly difficult to gauge. Continue reading
Justice was served to Soleimani, but its strategic payoff is uncertain
In my latest article I registered deep ambivalence concerning last week’s operation that eliminated Qasem Soleimani, Iran’s chief imperial strategist whose career was devoted to the violent export of the Islamist revolution. The dilemma at hand is that the Islamic republic is manifestly incompatible with a civilized order in the Middle East while President Trump’s deranged character is incompatible with inspired or effective U.S. global leadership. Continue reading
The Hellfire missile that dispatched Qasem Soleimani has been a mighty long time in coming. At the direction of the American president, a drone strike outside the Baghdad airport has killed the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force commander and another senior Iranian-linked figure in Baghdad, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, an Iraqi militia commander. Continue reading
Since the 1979 Islamic revolution, it has not been meddling by outside powers but domestic insurrection that has posed the greatest threat to the mullahs’ continued rule. Three decades into its life, in June 2009, it was not a “regime change war” (with apologies to Tulsi Gabbard) but a nationwide protest that nearly felled the Islamic republic. No less a figure than Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei later admitted that during the Green revolution the Islamist regime suffered a near-death experience. Continue reading
America’s traditional bipartisan consensus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is unraveling
It did not go unnoticed that President Trump’s October decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria brought Republicans and Democrats into rare alignment in foreign policy. The bipartisan outrage that greeted Trump’s betrayal of America’s Kurdish partners who bled for us in the fight against the Islamic State was as politically remarkable as it was morally justified.
It’s a shame and a scandal that no such bipartisan opposition arose last month after another solemn moral and strategic interest was violated and traduced by the perverted executive branch of the American government. I refer to the announcement by the Trump administration, in contradiction of decades of official U.S. policy, that Israeli settlements in the West Bank don’t violate international law. While the vast majority of Republicans cheered, most Democrats howled in righteous indignation since the settlements Israel has built in the territories it captured in 1967 are widely assumed to contravene the Fourth Geneva Convention, which says “the occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” Furthermore, the long-reigning bipartisan consensus in favor of a two-state compromise has been torn asunder, yet another casualty of the Trump era. Continue reading
Tension in NATO has flared into the open, presaging the death of Pax Americana
As NATO leaders gathered in London this week to mark the 70th anniversary of history’s most venerable military alliance, it has been widely forgotten that not so long ago the specter of armed conflict haunted the European continent. When the Washington treaty establishing NATO was signed in April 1949, the Soviet Union occupied the captive nations of Eastern Europe and an invasion of Western Europe by the Red Army was not a remote possibility. On current trends, the Atlantic alliance may well suffer a premature demise as the world moves into another great power rivalry that is also an ideological contest between democracy and autocracy. Continue reading
Iranians are making a brave stand for freedom. They deserve American support
It was a little over a decade ago, in June 2009, that the Islamic republic of Iran endured what the ayatollahs, including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, subsequently described as a near-death experience at the hands of the Green revolution. Continue reading