I’m of the opinion that one of the largest blunders in United States history was the handling of the Iranian Revolution of 1979. I’m looking at with thirty plus years of hindsight but it’s clear that the moment was a key point in the history of the world.
Before the revolution Iran was ruled by the Shah of Iran. The Shah was in many ways not that bad of a man in that he was largely secular and helped women’s rights but he nationalized the oil industry and suppressed dissent ruthlessly. He was viewed as a puppet for the west who wanted oil.
The Shah’s reputation is actually undergoing a revival in Iran but this is largely because of the oppressive nature of the regime that took power. I talk about all of this merely as background for my main argument.
The Iranian Revolution was the first signal of modern Islamic power, fueled by oil money, that is largely responsible for much of the war and horror we see in the world today. While the Ayatollah and his revolutionary cohorts did promulgate a theocratic state they were largely a popular uprising of the people. Certainly the communist Soviet Union provided agitation but, by and large, it was a revolt of the people.
The revolutionaries took American hostages and we’ve had an adversarial relationship with them ever since. Iran has used its money and religious fervor to influence the rise of Islamic states and terrorism all over the world. What would have happened if President Carter had pushed back from an initial knee-jerk reaction to the revolution?
What if we had told the Iranian leaders: You were right. We shouldn’t have meddled in your country’s affairs. Welcome to the world of nations. We don’t like the idea of a theocracy but we’re willing to work with you.
Would the world be better today? I think so. Perhaps Iran wouldn’t have become so radicalized and other Arabic nations would have looked to us a guiding light rather than an enemy to be destroyed.
It’s all speculation of course. There are so many other variables involved and what happened, happened.
But, I think it is an object lesson of sorts. When situations like this arise in the future, how should we as a nation handle them?
One of the leading causes for the Iranian hatred of the U.S. that continues to this day was our meddling in their affairs after World War II. This leads me to the Libertarian idea of non-interventionism. I’ll talk more about that and how it is different than isolationism tomorrow.
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Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist