Americans Should Learn From History Before Calling for Regime Change in Iran

Protests and calls for reformation of the strict theocratic government have wracked cities across Iran, prompting calls by various pundits for the US to stand with the Iranian people as they struggle to throw off the oppressive yoke of the Ayatollahs. Weekly Standard managing editor Kelly Jane Torrance took to Fox Business to excoriate the world leaders who have remained silent in the face of the clashes. On “Face the Nation,” Senator Lindsey Graham called upon President Trump to stand with the Iranian people and to renegotiate the Iranian nuclear deal.

Iran has long been targeted for regime change by America’s supposed crusaders for justice. President George Bush named Iran as part of “the axis of evil” in 2002. Bush’s former ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, has often called for the US to carry out regime change in Iran, recently arguing that the US should provide material and financial support to the Iranian opposition, to that end. Bolton epitomizes the usual approach of wanting to charge in and smash the bad guys, before we even know what is really going on. US history is littered with the failures of this approach.

While commentators eager to topple the regime and spread democracy call for the US government to help facilitate the process, the New York Times reports that the protestors currently taking to the streets of Iran differ in both ideology and demographics from previous pro-democracy protests. Writing in the New York Times, Iranian journalist Amir Ahmadi Arian notes that “demands like freedom of speech and the rights of women and religious minorities have, for the most part, been either absent or vaguely implied.” He also notes that the protesters are not from the ranks of the highly educated and the middle-class like they were in the 2009 pro-democracy Green Revolution. Instead, he notes that the protesters come from people who are struggling and are much more concerned with their own personal economic circumstances, rather than abstract rights. Also lending credence to the argument that the current protests differ from the previous ones in 2009 is that fact that former Iranian president and interventionist boogieman, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, participated in the unrest and has been arrested for a December 28th speech at an anti-government rally where he attacked the regime. Seeing how the 2009 pro-democracy protests were against his reelection, it certainly seems implausible that any movement that has him on stage will plan on transforming the country into a Western-style democracy, should they succeed.

Unfortunately, wanting the US government to charge headlong into conflicts to defeat evil, without really knowing what is actually going on, has been an American trait since the beginning of the country.

The list of well-intentioned but poorly considered foreign interventions goes on and on.

Think back to Jefferson and Paine urging support for the French Revolution against the tyranny of the Bourbon monarchy, only to recoil in horror at the torrents of bloodshed and upheaval that followed. In the past century, think of the US intervention into the First World War, pushed by, among others, progressive Protestant clergy eager to help “make the world safe for democracy” by fighting “the war to end all wars.” In contrast to the noble sentiments, the war only paved the way for an even more devastating world war 20 years later. The list of well-intentioned but poorly considered foreign interventions goes on and on: Iraq ripped apart by sectarian strife, Libya a failed state with slave markets, and Syria with its raging and bloody civil war with seemingly no end in sight.

As history indicates, Americans have favored crusading forth to attempt to vanquish evil since the founding of the country. However, America also has a solid history of restraining that crusading spirit and fighting against the impulse to march forth from what is supposed to be our shining city on the hill to save the world. Notably, there is George Washington’s 1796 Farewell Address in which he urged “harmony” and “liberal intercourse with all nations” and cautioned against entangling alliances and becoming embroiled in foreign affairs.

This sentiment was also channeled by John Quincy Adams in his Independence Day speech of 1821, in which he argued that the US “goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy.” Adams instead argued that even though the United States “is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.”

Dominion and force exercised abroad inevitably returns home and leads to intrusions on liberties.

For too long has America scorned Adam’s advice, and as he predicted the US has become enamored with imperial power, rather than liberty. It is little wonder that the United States is viewed by a majority around the world as the largest threat to world peace, according to a 2013 Gallup poll. And, as professor Robert Higgs argues in his 1987 book Crisis and Leviathan, such dominion and force exercised abroad inevitably returns home and leads to intrusions on liberties, a point easily understood by those of us living under the all-encompassing eye of the US-surveillance state.

Echoing Adam’s sentiment, Americans hope that the Iranian people are able to throw off the oppressive yoke of the Islamist regime, but it is not our job to win such freedom for them. As our track record indicates, we have too often charged into such endeavors lacking vital knowledge and understanding of the situation and its various nuances, leading to disaster. Let us, instead, attend to the monumental task of improving our own society, so that we may serve as an inspiration and example to the world.

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Zachary Yost is a Free Society Fellow with Young Voices who lives in the Pittsburgh area. Opinions presented here belong solely to the author.

A town in Sweden is under fire after denying requests to ring church bells in the 1990s and the 2000s but recently approving a mosque's request to conduct a weekly Islamic call to prayer.

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Authorities in the town of Vaxjo in southern Sweden have given the local mosque a one-year permit to recite the call to prayer every Friday for about four minutes. But Fr. Ingvar Fogelqvist of St. Michael's, the local Catholic church located about a mile from the mosque, says similar requests to ring church bells were denied.

On today's show, Pat and Jeffy talked about this story and favorable bias toward the Muslim faith. The issue isn't that the Islamic call to prayer is allowed; it's that all religions are not being treated equally.

Somebody might want to check the temperature in hell, it might be just a tad chillier than normal.

If you missed Friday's episode of The Glenn Beck Program, you missed something you probably never thought you'd see in this timeline or any other. Glenn actually donned President Trump's trademark red "Make America Great Again" hat and laid out the case for why he thinks Trump will win in a landslide in 2020.

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Bottom line: Nancy Pelosi and the mainstream media may have pushed Glenn to this point, but believe it or not, Trump's record will make this next election a walk in the park for number 45. At this point, the sitting president has done enough to earn even Glenn's vote.

Glenn broke down what he thought were the 10 biggest campaign promises that — unlike those made by most politicians — Trump actually kept.

10. Impose a 10% repatriation tax to bring jobs back to America

Not all of Trump's promises were good ones, but regardless of what the consequences may be — he did keep this one.

"Now, I think this one is dangerous," Glenn said on radio Friday. "He did it. Ten percent. Bring all of your money back into the United States. It will create jobs. Yes. It will also create inflation. But it's creating jobs."

9. Withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

This has been one of Trump's most passionate issues.

"The stop the TPP. Uh-huh. Right. Sure you are. Uh-huh. Yes. He did," Glenn admitted.

8. Withdraw from the disastrous Paris Climate Accord

Glenn found himself eating crow on this.

"I'm on record saying he will never do that because his daughter is a huge global warming person and he only listens to the family. Eh. Wrong," Glenn said with a puff of crow feathers coming from his mouth.

7. Bring North Korea to the table and rein them in

This looked impossible. Not so.

"'I'm going to bring North Korea to the table.' Are you? Everybody has tried to do that," Glenn said. "Now, they're at the table. We don't know what's going to happen. So the result of that is unknown. But has anybody else done that?"

6. Stop over-regulation and jump-start the economy

It's the economy, stupid.

"Does anybody feel like America is beginning to get on track somewhat economically? You know why? Because he fulfilled another promise," Glenn said. "Stop over-regulating the American people. Give them their money. Give the companies the opportunity to expand and bring their money back into the country, and maybe they'll build buildings. Maybe they'll build offices. Maybe they'll build new products. Maybe they'll build new factories. Maybe they'll hire a bunch of people."

Glenn went on.

"Now, I know Seattle is trying to do everything they can to make sure everybody in their city is homeless and unemployed, but the rest of the country is enjoying the feeling of, wow, maybe things are going to be okay."

5. Reverse Obama's executive orders

If you're like Glenn, you've gotten used to politicians promising "no new taxes," but you can really tell they're lying if their lips are moving. Guess what? That's apparently not Trump.

"The executive orders? Yeah. He's reversed a lot of Obama's executive orders," Glenn said. "These are outrageous promises."

4. Pull out of the Iran nuclear deal

No big deal...

"'I'm going to cancel the Iran Deal.' Yep. None of these are small. You know, I've got maybe ten minutes. I think we can get that done in the first term. And they did," Glenn said.

3. Give tax cuts to middle-class Americans

Maybe this could have been better, but we'll take it.

"I don't like the tax cut. I think he could go a lot further," Glenn said. "But that's not even his job. His job is to sign things that Congress puts in front of him. Not to design it. You Republicans in Congress, you disgust me. You disgust me. 'Imagine what we could do if we had the House and the Senate and the White House.' I can imagine what you'll do — nothing. You'll do nothing."

2. Change strategy and defeat ISIS

The mainstream media have been radio silent on this.

"How about the president's — well, I know I can defeat ISIS. I know I can do it. I'll defeat ISIS. He did," Glenn said. "And did you notice no one in the press even talked about it? All of a sudden, we're not talking about ISIS anymore. How come? Oh, I know. President Trump. That's why."

1. Recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and relocate the US embassy

This one is a true game-changer.

"Now, every president will say to you, when he's running, 'I'm going to make Jerusalem the home.' Well, really? The home of the embassy. Really, are you? Because everybody says that, nobody does it. He did it," Glenn said. "And I think that's going to go down as the biggest game-changer possibly in my lifetime. This is going — it already is — it is changing the game in Iran."

Glenn continued.

"And when it does, this president is going to come out and say something directly to those people, that we support them," he said. "And that's going to add fuel to the fire. And you might see a regime change and a collapse of the Islamic regime in Iran. And it will be 100 percent Donald Trump that made that responsible. One hundred percent. You're going to see changes because of this. He kept that promise. A promise I said, he's not going to do that. Nobody is going to do that. He did."

One chapter of ISIS has ended, but another may be starting

AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images

For the most part, ISIS has fallen in Syria and Iraq. But before we celebrate the demise of this awful terrorist group, before we let our guard down, we should zoom out a bit, because ISIS is spreading. ISIS has largely just scattered out of the region as if someone turned on the kitchen lights and they scrambled.

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The Wall Street Journal spoke with Rohan Gunaratna, head of the International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research at the Nanyang University in Singapore. “Although Islamic State's ideology has suffered, it still has a huge potential," he told them. “Islamic State has entered a phase of global expansion, very much the same way al Qaeda extended globally in late 2001."

ISIS has spread into West Africa, and throughout much of Southeast Asia, and, as is typical of ISIS, they have done it violently, with a sick venom.

The world is their potential rubble, and their fight is endless.

Again, from the Wall Street Journal: “One chapter of ISIS has finished and another is beginning," said Hassan Hassan, a specialist on Islamic State at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy in Washington. “Their resurgence is coming sooner than expected."

The world is their potential rubble, and their fight is endless.

'The Handmaid's Tale' got it right, just with the wrong religion

Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Just in case The Handmaid's Tale's heavy-handed message wasn't already heavy-handed enough, a recent episode made it clear there's always room for further hysteria. Particularly, in relation to depictions of a “patriarchal society" run by Christian doctrine and determined by men — oh those dastardly men.

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The show appropriates Margaret Atwood of the same name, depicting a totalitarian society led by Christian doctrine in which women's bodies are controlled, and they have no rights. The story sounds familiar, but not in the same way Atwood and the show's creators have so smugly assumed.

Just as tone-deaf as 4th wave feminism itself, and tone-deaf in all the exact same places. Most notably, the show's heavy-handed indignation toward Christianity. Toward the patriarchy. Toward conservatives and traditional values. And just like 4th wave feminism, the show completely overlooks the irony at play. Because there is a part of the world where women and children are being raped and mutilated. In fact, in this very real place, the women or girls are often imprisoned, even executed, for being raped, and they are mutilated in unspeakable ways.

Theirs is a cruel, bloody, colorless life.

There is a place, a very real place, where women are forced to cover their entire bodies with giant tarp-like blankets, which is all the more brutal given the endless heat of this place. There is a place where women literally have one-third of the rights of men, a place where women are legally, socially and culturally worth less than men.

They cannot drive cars. They cannot be outside alone. They cannot divorce, they cannot even choose who they marry and often, they are forcibly married at a young age.

They are raped. A lot. Theirs is a cruel, bloody, colorless life. This is the life of tens, perhaps hundreds of millions of women. And, I'll tell you, their religion isn't Christianity.