02 February 2017

Again - no war in the land of Esther

You know the old saw ‘in like Flynn’? Somehow I don’t think old Errol would agree.

Or, rather, here we go ‘understanding the right of all nations to put their own interests first’ (who ghostwrote that, I wonder?). As David Lindsay rightly says, ‘Bernie would have won’.

General Mikey is now putting Iran ‘on notice’ because Yemeni Shi’ites have the temerity to defend themselves against indiscriminate Saudi attacks. Let that sink in, please.

Iran is our ally in Iraq, against the extremist ‘Islamic’ State, which in our magician’s-apprentice-like naïveté we summoned up to battle against Assad in Syria. (We actually do have an interest in fighting the ‘Islamic’ State. We have no such true interest in the Houthis either way.) Even prior to then, the ‘Islamic’ State represents a judgement upon America’s foreign-political sins. The arming of Saddam against the Iranians and both of the Gulf Wars have shown, to what ought to be a mortifying degree, our inability to learn from our political follies in meddling in the region’s affairs.

Iran, a country which never has been and never will be as anti-American as either American or Iranian hawks would like it to be, has since the dawn of its ancient civilisation been a beacon for creativity and organic spiritual unity, and one which valued the freedom of the spoken word. In its cultural infancy, in contrast to every single civilisation around it (except China, far to the East) it promulgated an ideal of just kingship – khvarenah – which blessed the right of the monarch to rule only when that monarch behaved in a virtuous and morally exemplary fashion, particularly toward his poorest and most vulnerable subjects.

When Iran forged an empire, it banned slavery and guaranteed the religious and cultural integrity of each linguistic and ethnic community it governed. When its empires fell, as under the Tatar and Mongol yokes, Iran put up an indomitable resistance. Even the form of Islam which it adopted, when Islamic Arabs overran its borders, was a radical form of Islam – best expressed in Dr. Ali Shariati’s ‘red Shi’ism’ – which placed its priorities not on attaining and keeping political power, but with speaking up for the downtrodden even at the cost of personal and national martyrdom. Iran has long integrated and infused its artistic life with its moral and spiritual life, and as its artistic traditions show, it has never had much use for or interest in modern utilitarianism. But Iran is the home of the tombs of Daniel, Esther and Mordechai (which are still in existence and under the protection of the government), was the home of the three Magi who first visited Jesus and remains one of the region’s few safe havens for ethnic Armenians and Jews.

Iran has long – and indeed, always! – been characterised by its unswerving, even martyric passion for independence. Not independence in the narrow, materialistic, bourgeois sense of the word as we take it in the United States (though economic independence from Britain and the elimination of BP’s corporate stranglehold over Iran was of great importance to Mosaddegh and to the Iranian democrats of the time). But more important in the Iranian lifeworld is spiritual independence from all false idols and ideologies. (It is no accident that Iran of Late Antiquity bore forth some of our Church’s greatest saints.) Even in the throes of its revolution, Iran never succumbed to the shadowplay of the two great falsities of communism and capitalism. And now, as we see, even in its ‘black Shi’ite’ theocratic state, it shows itself a ready ally against the extremes of political, Wahhabi Islam! Though Iran holds near and dear to its heart the principles of creativity, of spiritual unity and independence, these principles are not and cannot be held on terms amenable to bourgeois, individualistic Western-style liberalism – any more than the similar Russian principles can be.

It should indeed be clear that they have their own interests which may not coincide in every particular with our own. But it took Obama far too long to learn that; Trump cannot be afforded the same degree of leniency. We must also learn that we should not make our friendship with Iran conditional upon ideological conformity; otherwise, they will spurn us and rightly so.


  1. How do you think Trump is going to manage the inconsistency of wanting to be friends with Russia while coming down hard on Iran?

  2. He's not managing it. Nikki Haley was doing the same old neocon song-and-dance about Crimea sanctions at the UN; and there's no way Trump didn't know about it. (Questions of legality aside, Crimea is a fait accompli: a return to pre-Soviet normality, which Crimeans wanted, accomplished without bloodshed. It is hard to see how American interests are furthered by beating that dead horse.)

    As for Iran, Trump has some very dangerous and delusional people around him: particularly Flynn, Phares and Mattis; all of whom think that régime change there is possible without further destabilising the region.

    1. Are you sure that's what the Crimeans wanted?

      The referendum organised by the Russian government didn't give the option of remaining in Ukraine and being held under conditions of armed occupation hardly made it fair.

      I am aware that there are many in Crimea who would prefer to be under Russian governance, but whether that is the majority view in Crimea is another question.

      Over 50% of Crimeans voted for Ukrainian independence inn 1991.

    2. I do appreciate your response to my initial question. I'm interested in your insight into this.

      The view you seem to be articulating is that Trump is not really serious, or at least half-hearted in his willingness to reconcile with Russia. Your view would appear to be that whether consciously or not, Trump's foreign policy is reverting to business as usual, or what might be expected as business as usual from a Republican president.

      Is that correct?

    3. I don't think Trump is serious about his stance on Russia, no. And the fact that even Pat Buchanan (perhaps TAC's only enthusiastic supporter of Trump) is now wondering what the blazes the man is thinking regarding Iran given Iran's close ties with Russia, shows that I'm not the only one on the Old Right, or, for that matter, the Old Left, who thinks so.

      PS. As for Crimea, I am not a fan either of the referendum or the way it was carried out, but the facts, as they have been ascertained by Western polls, leave little room for doubt that they did in fact represent what most of the people there wanted. They were asked both directly after and one year after the referendum, and their attitudes have not changed.

      But popular legitimacy is not the only factor, as you well know. There are historical and cultural factors to consider as well as the democratic whims of the moment. And Russia, in Crimea, has history, culture, language and religion on its side.

    4. As always, though, however heartily I disagree with you heartily and thoroughly about Russia and about Iran, I nonetheless appreciate your comments!