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Harrak, we agree at last.

Reader comment on item: White House Nonchalance toward the Middle East
in response to reader comment: The failure to promote democracy and the western need for dictatorship (Stupidism Manifesto)

Submitted by Pat (United States), Mar 23, 2006 at 17:11

"Why 70 or 80 Millions USD to change the regime in Iran Vrs No cent to a bit pressure Arabia for instance"

Great point. If it were up to me, I wouldn't spend one penny "freeing" the people of Iran. They had a revolution and they chose Islamism. It's theirs. If the people want to be freed, they can always overthrow the mullahs, just as they did the Shah. Likewise, if they want nukes they can have them, as long as they accept the responsibility and risk that come with being a nuclear power. (See my response to "Islamism and Nukes".) The Iranian president's behavior doesn't fill me with hope on that score.

I notice though, that you still evade the question and you pose it here too:
you keep saying we are hypocritical whether we are butting in (Iran) or butting out (Saudi Arabia) of other countries' internal affairs. Before you brought up Algeria and when I challenged you on Algeria, you switched to Saudi Arabia and Iran. I have no problem with giving my opinion, so here it is.

The one difference between the two that probably justifies two different policies is that the Saudi government itself has never directly threatened the US and it also doesn't have the ability to attack us militarily, while Iran does. Iran also has a history of direct anti-American aggression. They invaded the US in 1979 when they took over our embassy, which by international law was not Iranian territory. They attacked US Marines in Lebanon in 1983 (using Hezbollah), when the US was serving in a peacekeeping capacity.
If I remember correctly, analysts and reporters told us then that the Saudis were mainstream (Sunni) while the Iranians were radical (Shiite) and so our alliance with the Saudis was okay. Saudis didn't believe or practice the same things we heard from Ayatollah Khomeini. Probably that lack of understanding of Islam only added to our problems.

Today, many of the Saudi people are anti-American, but I would handle that in a different way: given the power, I wouldn't let a single Saudi into this country while Osama is at large.

We have two policies between Saudi Arabia and Iran: is there one that you approve of or are we wrong in both cases? If the latter is the case, then is there anything the US can do that will satisfy you? (I think that was MY point with Algeria.)

I have one more observation on US inconsistency for you:
I hear many opponents of George Bush here in the US question our motives in the Middle East and they always cite 1953, when a democratic government was effectively overthrown by a US-backed coup.
I've read a book whose authors say that the US feared that Mossadegh's government was being overtaken by Communist forces (1953 was early in the Cold War) and the coup enjoyed considerable support, even among Iran's Muslim clerics. This would make sense given that the Soviets were hostile to religion and such a regime would probably be anathema to most Muslims.
Are they wrong?

Also, many of the contradictions you cite were based on Cold War alliances. The Arab nationalist countries were pretty much the only non-Communist countries aligned with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The US courted even radical Muslim governments in an effort to prevent them from siding with the Soviets, in an effor to maintain a balance of power. There's a saying: politics makes strange bedfellows. This was never more true than in the Cold War. That should explain some of our support for the Shah. It didn't always work. Egypt (until the 1970s), Syria, Iraq and others aligned themselves with the Soviets while Saudi Arabia and Iran (until 1979) were among our Cold War allies. Our reasons for supporting even quasi-totalitarian regimes should have gone away after the Cold War, but when relationships are built up over decades then old habits become hard to break.

I appreciate it when you answer. Thanks.

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