Home/Daniel Larison/Iranians Aren’t Going to Help the U.S. Overthrow Their Government

Iranians Aren’t Going to Help the U.S. Overthrow Their Government

Jennifer Rubin makes several unwise proposals for Iran policy, but this one jumps out for being the laziest and most underdeveloped:

Fifth, regime change in Iran must be the official policy of the United States. We need to provide ample rhetorical and logistical support to the opposition. The notion that this will “discredit” these groups seems increasingly untenable given the regime’s brutal crackdown on its people.

I call this the laziest proposal because it has become a default hawkish recommendation that the U.S. support such-and-such an adversarial authoritarian state’s opposition to facilitate regime change. It doesn’t seem to bother the people making this recommendation that they can’t point to an example where this has worked. This is the most underdeveloped of the proposals because it doesn’t bother to identify what Rubin means by “the opposition.” If she is using the definition of pro-MEK advocates, “the opposition” includes a cultish terrorist group, but all members of the legitimate Iranian opposition absolutely reject that group and any other like it. If she has the remnants of the Green movement in mind, she would need to account for Majd’s assessment that there is currently no longer much of a Green movement to speak of, and she would need to explain why a movement that didn’t want and couldn’t use U.S. help before would want it now. A regime crackdown doesn’t make support from a foreign power less discrediting in the eyes of nationalists and others suspicious of American intentions.

Regime change is a misguided policy as a general rule. It isn’t the business of the United States government to depose other states’ governments. Even if there were good reason to pursue a policy of regime change in Iran, Iranians aren’t going to aid the U.S. in toppling their own government. As Nader wrote the other day:

However, Iranians are not going to overthrow their rulers due to economic hardships alone, and certainly not at the behest of the United States.

The issue is not so much one of discrediting the opposition by providing support as it is the Iranian desire not to be indebted or subservient to the U.S. as a result of any political change.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. 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.

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