Walk into almost any market in Iraq and the shelves are filled with goods from Iran — milk, yogurt, chicken. Turn on the television and channel after channel broadcasts programs sympathetic to Iran.
A new building goes up? It is likely that the cement and bricks came from Iran. And when bored young Iraqi men take pills to get high, the illicit drugs are likely to have been smuggled across the porous Iranian border.
And that’s not even the half of it.
Across the country, Iranian-sponsored militias are hard at work establishing a corridor to move men and guns to proxy forces in Syria and Lebanon. And in the halls of power in Baghdad, even the most senior Iraqi cabinet officials have been blessed, or bounced out, by Iran’s leadership.
When the United States invaded Iraq 14 years ago to topple Saddam Hussein, it saw Iraq as a potential cornerstone of a democratic and Western-facing Middle East, and vast amounts of blood and treasure — about 4,500 American lives lost, more than $1 trillion spent — were poured into the cause.
From Day 1, Iran saw something else: a chance to make a client state of Iraq, a former enemy against which it fought a war in the 1980s so brutal, with chemical weapons and trench warfare, that historians look to World War I for analogies. If it succeeded, Iraq would never again pose a threat, and it could serve as a jumping-off point to spread Iranian influence around the region.
In that contest, Iran won, and the United States lost.
In that light, how can one not sympathize with Tucker Carlson in his current fight with foreign-policy neocons? Really interesting piece about that in The National Interest. Carlson, who was once a writer for The Weekly Standard, says he doesn’t like to use the word “neocons.” Yet:
Carlson’s recent segments on foreign policy conducted with Lt. Col. Ralph Peters and the prominent neoconservative journalist and author Max Boot were acrimonious even by Carlsonian standards. In a discussion on Syria, Russia and Iran, a visibly upset Boot accused Carlson of being “immoral” and taking foreign-policy positions to curry favor with the White House, keep up his ratings, and by proxy, benefit financially. Boot says that Carlson “basically parrots whatever the pro-Trump line is that Fox viewers want to see. If Trump came out strongly against Putin tomorrow, I imagine Tucker would echo this as faithfully as the pro-Russia arguments he echoes today.” But is this assessment fair?
Carlson’s record suggests that he has been in the camp skeptical of U.S. foreign-policy intervention for some time now and, indeed, that it predates Donald Trump’s rise to power. (Carlson has commented publicly that he was humiliated by his own public support for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.) According to Carlson, “This is not about Trump. This is not about Trump. It’s the one thing in American life that has nothing to do with Trump. My views on this are totally unrelated to my views on Donald Trump. This has been going since September 11, 2001. And it’s a debate that we’ve never really had. And we need to have it.” He adds, “I don’t think the public has ever been for the ideas that undergird our policies.”
The piece does a good job documenting that Carlson has been anti-neocon in foreign policy for a long time. This is not pro-Trump opportunism on his part. The piece, by Curt Mills, says that Carlson is paying a lot more attention to the traditional left on foreign policy, as opposed to the neocons and the Democratic Party mainstream. And he’s paying attention to Pat Buchanan. More:
Carlson’s interests extend beyond foreign policy, and he says “there’s a massive realignment going on ideologically that everybody is missing. It’s dramatic. And everyone is missing it. . . . Nobody is paying attention to it!”
Carlson seems intent on pressing the issue. The previous night, in his debate with Peters, the retired lieutenant colonel said that Carlson sounded like Charles Lindbergh, who opposed U.S. intervention against Nazi Germany before 1941. “This particular strain of Republican foreign policy has almost no constituency. Nobody agrees with it. I mean there’s not actually a large group of people outside of New York, Washington or L.A. who think any of this is a good idea,” Carlson says. “All I am is an asker of obvious questions. And that’s enough to reveal these people have no idea what they’re talking about. None.”
Read the whole thing. Don’t miss the part where Max Boot is quoted from 2003 as saying that the Iraq War may “mark the moment when the powerful antibiotic known as democracy was introduced into the diseased environment of the Middle East, and began to transform the region for the better.” Then re-read Tim Arango’s report about how American blood, American treasure, and American ideological hubris made Iraq a de facto province of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
That doesn’t make Tucker Carlson right. It does make him more credible, though.