Overthrowing the legitimate Iranian government in 1953 is, unarguably, the central cause of our ongoing problems with Iran. It is hardly any surprise then when the “obvious” response by Republican John Bolton is to promote overthrow of Iranian government. That would require a “real” president, he says, lamenting that,
“We don’t have a president who’s demonstrated competence in difficult international confrontations.” Typical Republican foreign policy “expert” that he is, Bolton is confusing successful international relations with its failure; otherwise known as “confrontations.”
Watch courtesy of Media Matters for America:
MARTHA MACCALLUM (CO-HOST): What’s going on here?
JOHN BOLTON: Well I think this is yet another example of Iran’s effort to show that it is the dominant power in the Persian Gulf, pushing us around for everybody to see, letting the Arab states there know that they’re not really in the kind of defensive position with us that they want to be in. And I think we’ve now passed the point, we may have passed it some time back, where we really ought to be deciding on some kind of strategic response, not responding to this provocation or that provocation, but doing something about this to demonstrate to the leadership in Tehran it’s unacceptable. Let me just say, I have zero faith the Obama administration will do anything like that.
MACCALLUM: There was one quote, it was an unnamed source within the U.S. Navy, it said in a — I believe it was a Washington Post piece — of the U.S. saying we wanted to test the Iranian reaction. Is that wise?
BOLTON: Well I think if they thought they had some indication from leadership in the White House that they’d be backed up, that would be a different thing. I assume we’ve been flying these reconnaissance missions right close to the Iranian territorial waters for quite some time. If we haven’t been, that’s a mistake I’m glad is now corrected. But as aggravating and as potentially dangerous as the boats running against our destroyers, the threat to shoot down our planes, as bad as that is, if you escalate, you’d better be prepared to think what it means if the Iranians escalate as well and what your strategic objective is. The Obama administration’s strategic objective is to be nice to Iran. So I think you could end up in a worse situation if we escalate and then back down at a higher level. That’s why my hope is that everybody goes to sleep for the next four months and that we have a new president who’s really prepared to deal with Iran because the lesson being taught around the world here is the United States just isn’t pushing back.
MACCALLUM: You could get yourself in a red line sort of situation if you’re testing this, and as you say, you’re not prepared to take the next step, and you don’t know what that next step is. So you would recommend that we not do any sort of stronger show of force in that area with larger naval ships or aircraft carriers that kind of thing because we’re not prepared to follow through?
BOLTON: Well, if we had a real president I would be prepared to do a lot of things. I mean, ultimately I think our objective should be to overthrow the regime in Tehran, but that’s obviously not the policy we have now, and we don’t have a president who’s demonstrated competence in difficult international confrontations like this. I understand why people are irritated by what the Iranians are doing. They’re clearly advancing their interests over ours, but we need to be prepared to do it right if we’re going to respond. I don’t see that in the White House.
The 1953 coup was backed by the CIA and directed against democratically elected Iranian prime minister Mohammad Mosaddeq. The operation was aided by the British, who actually came up with the scheme (and later convinced Eisenhower to help) after Iran nationalized the British Anglo-Iranian Oil Company.
Sound familiar? The Iraq War took place after Iraq nationalized its oil industry. The 1953 response destroyed relations with Iran; the 2003 war destroyed Iraq and created a vacuum that led to the rise of ISIS. Our record of success with interventions in the Middle East is a less than sterling one, and now Bolton is proposing another.
The CIA was reluctant to admit is role, though the Iranians always knew who was behind it. The CIA did not finally come clean until 2013. The Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who benefited from the coup, was a staunch US ally until his overthrow.
Unsurprisingly Iran has been America’s implacable enemy ever since he was driven out of power. And who can blame them?
They say two wrongs don’t make a right; in this case, two wrongs cannot make it right. We alone are responsible for our current troubles with Iran. John Bolton’s plan won’t fix anything. It will just make things worse. Which, unfortunately, seems to be the Republican way of doing things these days.