Pursuing Regime Change Isn’t Dignified or Wise

The most useful thing that the U.S. government could do is to get out of the way of the Iranian people by suspending or lifting as many of the sanctions that throttle them as possible

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Reuel Marc Gerecht and Ray Takeyh are wrong as usual, but in this piece they are also wildly irresponsible:

The Biden administration has now run into this buzzsaw of sexual politics and faith. If the president were wise, he would throw his lot in with Iranian women. Mr. Biden wasn’t going to stop the Iranian bomb in Vienna. Aligning American policy behind the rebels at least gives the administration a chance at regime change [bold mine-DL]. It also gives the White House a chance to restore American dignity.

It is not surprising that pro-regime change zealots see every event as an occasion to agitate for regime change, but they are as deeply mistaken as ever when they insist that pursuing this goal is the appropriate role for the US government. Leave aside the nuclear negotiations for a moment and ask whether it makes any sense for the US to insert itself into these protests. The Iranian government is already casting protesters as agents working on behalf of foreign governments, and Gerecht and Takeyh would like to lend credibility to those accusations.

In many cases like this, the wiser course of action is to refrain from becoming involved so that our government does not exacerbate the protesters’ difficulties and so that it does not create false expectations of more direct intervention down the road. The US should recognize the sharp limits on its influence in a country that our government understands very poorly and where it has not had a diplomatic presence in more than forty years. The US should not seek to exploit popular protests for destructive ends. There is nothing dignified about intruding into another country’s affairs in an attempt to topple its government.

Referring to protesters seeking redress of grievances as “the rebels” is a gift to the Iranian government, which would like nothing more than to dismiss them as “seditionists” and crack down even harder. Perhaps Gerecht and Takeyh understand that they are undermining the protesters by calling them rebels, and perhaps they don’t, but that is what they are doing. Talking about these protests as a means to achieve regime change plays into the hands of the state’s propaganda.

If the US started making policy with an eye towards using Iranian protesters as if they were pawns in a regime change policy, that would be deeply wrong and also likely to blow up in our faces. While the US can and should criticize the Iranian government’s use of violence against protesters, there is very little that our government could do that would be constructive and welcome inside Iran. Trying to hijack an Iranian cause to advance a fanatical interventionist goal is exactly what the US should never do.

Read the rest of the article at SubStack

Daniel Larison is a weekly columnist for Antiwar.com and maintains his own site at Eunomia. He is former senior editor at The American Conservative. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

8 thoughts on “Pursuing Regime Change Isn’t Dignified or Wise”

  1. to advance a fanatical interventionist goal is exactly what the US should never do.

    Tough one. Since that’s numero uno in the “Fccc up everybody else’s country” playbook.

  2. Right on target article! April 15, 2022 CEASING NATO EXPANSION THE SHORTEST WAY FOR PEACE IN EUROPE

    Western countries do not seem to have realized the need to avoid the expansion of NATO. In a context of security crisis in Eastern Europe as a direct consequence of the alliance’s encroachment to the Russian border, the main global agenda for the near future should be to put the growth of this military bloc on hold and resume the stabilization of European security.


    1. The US has been interfering in other nations’ affairs no matter what the Monroe Doctrine says. The US installed the Shah after WWII and overthrew Mohamed Mossadegh which is what Britain wanted. That led to the Iranian Revolution in 1979.

      1. Thanks friend, and here’s the full history of US meddling.

        Jan 13, 2020 A timeline of U.S.-Iran relations The U.S. and Iran have a complicated history dating back decades.

        From the U.S. involvement in the shah’s 1953 coup of Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddegh, to the Iran hostage crisis in 1979, to the U.S. killing of one of Iran’s top generals in January 2020, the U.S. and Iran’s conservative religious and political leaders have often found themselves in stark opposition to one another about their visions for both Iran’s own future and larger interests in the Middle East.


  3. The US government has been and remains utterly incapable of exerting the self-control required to stay out of other peoples’ business. It’s an illness brought about by an unquestioning belief in its own myths.

  4. Pointless. “Trying to hijack an Iranian cause to advance a fanatical interventionist goal is exactly what the US should never do.” Excuse me, this is what the US always does and always has, at least during the 20th Century and since. How about the US government spend some time worrying about the US cop killings and beatings before we get another summer of 2020?

  5. And never mind the hypocrisy. Our “staunch” ally, the Saudis, treat women soooo well. Plus, if your Israel, you can shoot women journalists in the face and get nary a peep from Washington

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