Sorry to stick something like this in front of you at the beginning of another week of toil and drudgery. But people need to know.
Iran hawks suddenly have a new mantra: the Islamic Republic is the Soviet Union in the late 1980s, and the Trump administration should work to hasten the regime’s impending collapse.
It’s not clear why this comparison has surfaced so abruptly. Its proponents don’t cite any tangible or concrete evidence that the regime in Tehran is somehow on its last legs. But I’m guessing that months of internal policy debate on Iran has finally reached the top echelons in the policy-making chaos that is the White House these days. And the hawks, encouraged by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s rather offhand statement late last month that Washington favors “peaceful” regime change in Iran, appear to be trying to influence the internal debate by arguing that this is Trump’s opportunity to be Ronald Reagan. Indeed, this comparison is so ahistorical, so ungrounded in anything observable, that it can only be aimed at one person, someone notorious for a lack of curiosity and historical perspective, and a strong attraction to “fake news” that magnifies his ego and sense of destiny.
The following is from a really good essay about the Iran thing, from an Iraq combat veteran.
Close your eyes for a moment and imagine a Middle Eastern country — no, not Israel — but one with a sizeable, protected Jewish community, a place where Islam is the state religion but its president regularly tweets Rosh Hashanah greetings for the Jewish New Year.
Sounds like somebody’s wild fantasy, but it’s actually Iran. In fact, the Islamic Republic sets aside one mandatory seat in its parliament for a Jew, three for Christians, and another for a Zoroastrian. It would be a mistake to conclude from such token gestures that Iran is a paragon of tolerance. But they do speak to the complexity of a diverse society full of paradox and contradiction.
It certainly is a land in which hardline fundamentalists chant “Death to America!” It’s also a country with an increasingly young, educated populace that holds remarkably positive views of Americans. In fact, whatever you might imagine, Americans tend to have significantly more negative views of Iran than vice versa. Don’t be shocked, but Iranians hold more positive views of the U.S. government than do the citizens of Washington’s allies like Egypt, Jordan, and Turkey. In reality, there’s long been a worrying paradox in the region: an inverse relationship between the amiability of a government’s relationship with Washington and the favorability ratings of this country among its people.
In other words, when it comes to Iran… well, it’s complicated. The trouble is that Americans generally don’t do nuance. We like our bad guys to be foreign and unmistakably vile, even if such a preference for digestible simplicity makes for poor policy.