A leftover from last night that got pushed back by Comeymania. Many a liberal foreign-policy wonk’s teeth were gnashed on social media when the White House dropped this bon mot about yesterday’s attacks in Tehran, never mind that “blowback” is a point made ad nauseam against U.S. interventions by anti-war types of both the left and right.
We grieve and pray for the innocent victims of the terrorist attacks in Iran, and for the Iranian people, who are going through such challenging times. We underscore that states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote.
If you go blowing things up in foreign countries, don’t be surprised if the enemies you make start blowing things up in yours. That’s Anti-War 101. No reason why it shouldn’t apply to Iran’s adventures in Syria as much as to America’s adventures in Iraq. The White House even made a point of distinguishing, wisely, between the Iranian people, for whom it has sympathy, and the policies of the Iranian regime.
Knowing a good propaganda opportunity when he saw it, though, Iran’s foreign minister attempted to seize the, ahem, moral high ground:
Repugnant WH statement & Senate sanctions as Iranians counter terror backed by US clients.Iranian people reject such US claims of friendship
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) June 8, 2017
He and his bosses have backed sectarian cleansing for the better part of 15 years, first in Iraq and now in Syria, and have sponsored terrorist outfits from Shiite Hezbollah to Sunni Hamas but somehow the idea that Sunni fanatics might predictably attempt to strike back in the heart of Tehran is simply too much. Our nuclear partner-in-peace certainly is a delicate flower.
Liberals note that Iran’s government was quick to offer condolences to the U.S. after 9/11. Right, but that was partly out of fear that a wounded superpower would behave unpredictably in lashing out at enemies in the Middle East afterward. Iran actually provided safe haven to some of Al Qaeda’s biggest fish after the attack. They helped fund AQ operations in Pakistan according to the Obama administration and ended up releasing some top operatives two years ago as part of a prisoner swap with Al Qaeda in Yemen. Osama Bin Laden himself discouraged attacks on Iran because it might jeopardize the quiet nonaggression pact the group had made with Iran’s leadership. Is scoring points on Trump so important that we need to whitewash the terrorist degenerates in Tehran to make it easier?
If you want to knock the White House statement, you have two grounds. One: Per Dianne Feinstein, a you-had-it-coming communique about terrorism maybe isn’t optimally timed when Iranians just chose the more “moderate” option in the recent presidential election. To sell that argument, you need to believe that Rouhani really is meaningfully more “moderate” than the alternative rather than a glorified PR guy for the Supreme Leader and the IRGC. But even so, if average Iranians perceive the White House statement as condoning terrorism against them rather than as a critique of the regime — and Iranian propaganda will emphasize that, of course — then you’re going to have an even more anti-American population than you had before. Two: The “blowback” counter to U.S. interventions has been used for ages and will be used until the end of time, but if Trump himself is embracing it then he’s going to mainstream it to a degree that it hasn’t been mainstreamed before. Every act of terror on U.S. soil will be aggressively justified by foreign and domestic critics by pointing to this very statement and claiming that America had it coming by the president’s own logic. Is enabling that worth scoring a point on Iran? I don’t think so but oh well.