History is supposed to teach us things. Perhaps Obama's silence on Iran's election is him looking at history and realizing that when we involve ourselves in governments and elections that we don't agree with, the long run result is almost always disastrous. One needs only to look at Latin America to see that.
We have this tendency to go into the world and use our military might to shape countries into what we believe they should be. Our CIA was involved in the student massacre in Mexico in 1968 during the worldwide student protests of 1968. This story repeats itself again and again in Latin America, and now we are seeing it repeat in the Middle East.
We put Saddam Hussein in power. Then we took him out. Hmmm.
I read an interesting article today. Iran Had a Democracy Before We Took It Away, which you can read here.
It was Washington that orchestrated the 1953 coup to topple Iran’s democratically elected government, the first in the Middle East, and install the compliant shah in power. It was Washington that forced Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh, a man who cared as much for his country as he did for the rule of law and democracy, to spend the rest of his life under house arrest. We gave to the Iranian people the corrupt regime of the shah and his savage secret police and the primitive clerics that rose out of the swamp of the dictator’s Iran. Iranians know they once had a democracy until we took it away...
"...in the 1980s, the U.S. sided with Saddam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq war, providing him with military equipment and intelligence that helped make it possible for his army to kill hundreds of thousands of Iranians,” Kinzer said. “Given this history, the moral credibility of the U.S. to pose as a promoter of democracy in Iran is close to nil.
Especially ludicrous is the sight of people in Washington calling for intervention on behalf of
democracy in Iran when just last year they were calling for the bombing of Iran. If they had had their way then, many of the brave protesters on the streets of Tehran today—the ones they hold up as heroes of democracy—would be dead now.”
Washington has never recovered from the loss of Iran—something our intelligence services never saw coming. The overthrow of the shah, the humiliation of the embassy hostages, the laborious piecing together of tiny shreds of paper from classified embassy documents to expose America’s venal role in thwarting democratic movements in Iran and the region, allowed the outside world to see the dark heart of the American empire. Washington has demonized Iran ever since, painting it as an irrational and barbaric country filled with primitive, religious zealots. But Iranians, as these street protests illustrate, have proved in recent years far more courageous in the defense of democracy than most Americans.
It's an interesting read, and interesting for any student of history. We have time and time again intervened in foreign governments, only to later come to regret going there in the first place, and on occasion we go back, only this time at the cost of thousands of lives.
I'm not proposing going back to complete isolationism. But we should return to a bit of it and stop trying to use our military to change the world. Let's return the military to what is was supposed to be: the greatest national defense force in the world.