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.

MORE FROM YOUNG VOICES

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

Would Glenn make a better bounty hunter or a Jedi? You'll have to find out in a new episode of the Beltway Banthas Podcast, where Glenn goes deep on Star Wars with host Stephen Kent. In this 45 minute discussion, Stephen and Glenn explore the political themes of the Star Wars franchise, Darth Vader's redemption from Return of the Jedi, Glenn's earliest memories of seeing the films and even debate elements of the latest Star Wars films.

If you enjoy the pop culture and nerdy discussions that Glenn, Pat and Stu get into on the radio show, you'll love this! After you're through, you can also check out Stu Burguiere's appearance on Beltway Banthas to talk Star Wars. You can find that here.


It's never too early to start your Christmas, Hanukah, or Kwanzaa shopping. Or even birthday gift shopping. Especially if that special someone in your life is a Democrat. Because at last count, pretty much all the Democrats are now running for president. And that means there has never been a wider selection of official candidate merchandise to choose from. Whether you're into environmentalism, feminism, classism, socialism, or just plain love, there is a smorgasbord of classy items that you and yours will treasure forever... or at least until the next presidential election.

We have browsed each of the candidates' online stores, so you don't have to (it only took us three months). We have curated only the finest items from each of the Democrats running for president of the United States of America. Without further ado, here is your handy progressive gift guide – or maybe your what-not-to-gift guide.

First, the bargain basement options. Hurry! Time is running out to grab your Beto bandana, or your Delaney pack of golf balls, because at this point Stu has as much of a chance as these guys of getting the nomination.

Tom Steyer, for example – is he still in the race?


https://shop.tomsteyer.com/collections/frontpage/products/tom-2020-pattern-tee


There's way too much Tom here. That shirt's got more Toms than a Caucasian dentists' convention.

For the slightly more moderate Democrat in your life, perhaps they'd like to join the "Yang Gang"…

https://shop.yang2020.com/collections/bumper-stickers/products/yanggang-decal


Andrew Yang is a lock for Math Club president…


https://shop.yang2020.com/collections/apparel/products/math-hat


But for actual president? Well, I wouldn't make plans for how you're going to spend your $1,000-per-month Yang allowance just yet.

If you happen to be shopping for your dog, may I suggest this lovely "Dogs for Delaney" dog collar…


https://store.johndelaney.com/products/dogs-for-delaney-collar


John Delaney's definitely going to secure the canine vote with this kind of outreach. As for any human votes, that's another question entirely.

How 'bout this tastefully understated "Natural Canvas" Michael Bennet tote to remind you he's also still here?...


https://store.michaelbennet.com/michael-bennet-for-america-natural-canvas-tote/


Then again, it's a tote. So, it'll end up on the floor of your closet and you won't have it with you until that one random moment when you're out somewhere and you really need a tote bag. Just like Democrats will really wish they had a moderate when we're in the middle of the socialist nightmare of their creation.

Captain Planet himself, Jay Inslee recently dropped out of the race, but don't let that stop you from picking up what may be the greatest single item sold by anyone in this race…


https://store.jayinslee.com/elvis-the-elves-the-mystery-of-the-melting-snow-by-jay-inslee/


A children's book called Elvis & the Elves: the Mystery of the Melting Snow. Written and illustrated by Governor Jay Inslee. Talk about a whodunnit – how could that snow possibly be melting? Spoiler alert: it's because of evil, white, patriarchal capitalism. And Donald Trump.

Then there's the candidate who thinks you're a moron that can't pronounce his last name: Steve Bullock...


https://shop.stevebullock.com/collections/apparel/products/emoji-t-shirt


Get it? Bull. Lock. Oh, so that's how you say the name that sounds exactly how it's spelled.

There's another candidate who also thinks you need help pronouncing his last name…


https://store.peteforamerica.com/collections/apparel/products/boot-edge-edge-t-shirt


And he is definitely right about that. So, thank you, Pete "Boot Edge Edge." That helps.

Just outside the bargain bin section, but just barely, are candidates like Julian Castro and his "El Presidente" t-shirt…


https://store.julianforthefuture.com/julian-castro-loteria-card-white-tee/


When your last name's Castro, do you really want to go with a weird drawing of yourself as if you're a classic Latin American dictator on a postage stamp?

If you prefer a little "dark psychic forces" battling in your candidates, you'll love Marianne Williamson's "Turn Love Into a Political Force" rally sign…


https://store.marianne2020.com/collections/signs/products/love-rally-sign


"Turn Love Into a Political Force" would be an even better title for a Marianne Williamson album of 80s cover songs. And if you think I'm joking, then you haven't heard Bernie Sanders' classic 1987 folk album, We Shall Overcome. That's not a joke. Well, it is a joke, but it's also a very real thing.

Now, just a quick pause to consider the peculiar baby-wear that way too many candidates are selling…

…including Elizabeth Warren's trans-pride flag onesie. Let me get this straight – we can't force any gender on a child, because that's just cruel. But we can force a political advertisement on a baby? How do we know that baby is actually a Biden or Warren fan? The child may not even be a Democrat or a Socialist at all. That baby might self-identify as a Libertarian, or Republican, or even worse – a moderate Democrat.

Now to the premium items from the premium candidates. Elizabeth Warren – the candidate with the most honesty in her advertising…


https://shop.elizabethwarren.com/collections/apparel/products/impolite-arrogant-women-make-history-unisex-t-shirt

-AND-

https://shop.elizabethwarren.com/collections/drinkware/products/strong-american-unions-mug


Warren's merchandise reflects the woman herself – cold and humorless (watch her "This isn't funny" clip from the last debate here at the 4:27 mark). I'm sure she's really fun once you get to know her. Then again, maybe not.

Speaking of serious women, Kamala Harris wants to be president very badly for you, the people, as you can tell from her "For the People" poster…


https://store.kamalaharris.org/poster-for-the-people/


At $29.99 though, she's sure not charging "people's" prices. Of course, she might be having to pay royalties to a certain someone for riffing on their poster. Just saying.

For the race's number one socialist, there's a whole lot of capitalism going on in Bernie Sanders' campaign. He sells so many delightful items that it's hard to choose. But we did anyway. The most random item is this hundred-dollar, black, "Art of a Political Revolution – Artists for Bernie Sanders Coaches Jacket"…


https://store.berniesanders.com/collections/apparel/products/artists-for-bernie-coaches-jacket


Coaches across the land will be clamoring for this one. You know, since coaches are such a strong Bernie-socialist demographic.

If that's a little over your budget you might consider a "Feel the Bern" fanny pack, to help store all those government freebies you'll get from Bernie…


https://store.berniesanders.com/collections/apparel/products/feel-the-bern-fanny-pack


This is the only context in which you'll ever want to hear "feel the burn" and "fanny" in the same sentence.

And finally, from front-runner Joe Biden, we have this fine "Women's Fitted Biden Polo." Which is just about the best polo description ever…


https://store.joebiden.com/collections/apparel/products/biden-polo-womens-fit


It promises the kind of snug approach that Biden loves to provide women. Even when they don't ask.

This was one of the first homesteads in the area in the 1880's and was just begging to be brought back to its original glory — with a touch of modern. When we first purchased the property, it was full of old stuff without any running water, central heat or AC, so needless to say, we had a huge project ahead of us. It took some vision and a whole lot of trust, but the mess we started with seven years ago is now a place we hope the original owners would be proud of.

To restore something like this is really does take a village. It doesn't take much money to make it cozy inside, if like me you are willing to take time and gather things here and there from thrift shops and little antique shops in the middle of nowhere.

But finding the right craftsman is a different story.

Matt Jensen and his assistant Rob did this entire job from sketches I made. Because he built this in his off hours it took just over a year, but so worth the wait. It wasn't easy as it was 18"out of square. He had to build around that as the entire thing we felt would collapse. Matt just reinforced the structure and we love its imperfections.

Here are a few pictures of the process and the transformation from where we started to where we are now:

​How it was

It doesn't look like much yet, but just you wait and see!

By request a photo tour of the restored cabin. I start doing the interior design in earnest tomorrow after the show, but all of the construction guys are now done. So I mopped the floors, washed the sheets, some friends helped by washing the windows. And now the unofficial / official tour.

The Property

The views are absolutely stunning and completely peaceful.