Home/Daniel Larison/The Ugly Smear Attack on NIAC

The Ugly Smear Attack on NIAC

Senator Ted Cruz at the American Enterprise Institute. Credit: AEI/YouTube Screenshot

Fresh from his disgusting smear attack against the Quincy Institute last week, Tom Cotton has joined with two other senators, Ted Cruz and Mike Braun, in launching an even more alarming attack on the National Iranian American Council (NIAC). Cotton, Cruz, and Braun have written a letter to the Attorney General in which they falsely accuse NIAC of acting as agents of the Iranian government. NIAC has issued a response to their attack:

The slanderous accusations from Senators Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz, and Mike Braun have zero merit. It is yet another sign that warhawks are seeking to intimidate pro-peace voices, starting with Iranian Americans, from halting the push toward war, which Cotton and Cruz have long championed. We have already seen the coordinated efforts, such as the U.S. government funded “IranDisinfo” project that slandered groups like Human Rights Watch, as well as Iranian-American journalists, analysts, academics, and civil society organizations like ours who dared speak out against the Trump Administration’s Iran policies. This is the latest attempt to silence NIAC and other pro-peace Iranian Americans from having a voice in this debate that impacts us and our community. We will not let that happen.

NIAC and NIAC Action are independent American organizations. We do not receive money from any government, are not agents of any government, and take great pride in our transparency. We are funded by reputable U.S. foundations, ordinary Iranian Americans, and American allies who support peace and civil rights. We routinely condemn the Iranian government for its gross violations of its international human rights obligations, including amid the November crackdown and this past weekend over protests following the government’s downing of a civilian aircraft.

Iran hawks have attacked NIAC with similar false accusations for many years, but this letter represents a new low by trying to involve the Department of Justice in their campaign against the organization. The accusations are not just false but malicious, and these senators are flinging these accusations in an attempt to harass and intimidate American supporters of diplomatic engagement and deescalation. NIAC is being targeted because they speak for Americans that oppose the reckless and destructive Iran policy of the current administration, and they are coming under attack because they stand for peace, diplomacy, and restraint in U.S.-Iranian relations at a time when our government stands for the exact opposite. It is a tribute to NIAC’s work that Iran hawks are coming after them like this, and it shows once again that hard-liners have to resort to smear tactics and intimidation because they cannot possibly win policy debates on the merits. This is a disturbing and outrageous attack that fair-minded Americans of all political persuasions should condemn.

The attack on NIAC is a symptom of a deeper pathology in our foreign policy debates. Supporters of hard-line policies routinely accuse critics of taking the side of other governments because those critics consistently best them in argument and demonstrate that those policies are harmful to the United States and the affected country. It is no coincidence that this latest attack comes in the wake of the complete failure of the Trump administration’s Iran policy. Sens. Cotton and Cruz in particular have been some of the loudest supporters of that policy, and its failure will expose them to considerable ridicule.

Hard-liners seek to impugn the integrity and loyalty of their critics, but in their ham-fisted attempts to attack their opponents they simply demonstrate their own lack of integrity. Advocates of a more peaceful and restrained foreign policy are no strangers to being falsely accused and misrepresented. We should stand with NIAC when they are being insulted and maligned in this way.

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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