Home/Daniel Larison/Thirty People On A Boat Can’t Be Wrong, Can They?

Thirty People On A Boat Can’t Be Wrong, Can They?

On the contrary, the 30 or so conferees–Iranian-born intellectuals, Middle East scholars, journalists and former officials from Democratic and Republican administrations and foreign governments–could agree on little other than that Iran is a uniquely aggressive regime intent on becoming the predominant power in the Middle East [bold mine-DL]. ~Bret Stephens

So the one thing all could agree on happens to be only half true, if it is that.  Is the Iranian government intent on becoming the predominant power in the Middle East?  Probably.  That is not an unreasonable conclusion to draw from its actions over the last few years–that doesn’t mean that it will happen or that Iran can actually achieve its goals, but it is at least within the realm of the possible.  Is it a “uniquely aggressive regime”?  Obviously not.  To the extent that it is aggressive at all, it is so in the very commonplace way of funding proxy fighters.  For the most part, the Iranian government is not terribly aggressive by the standards of some other governments. 

To say that it is uniquely aggressive is to say that it is aggressive in a way unlike any other state on earth.  This is a sorry abuse of language.  The absurdity of a contributor to the Wall Street Journal editorial page complaining about a foreign government’s unique aggressiveness is simply too perfect.  You cannot exaggerate the bizarre, grotesque and strange ideas that appear in that paper.  Today Iran is uniquely aggressive (though it does not illegally occupy someone else’s territory), and the other day Libby was declared a “fallen soldier.”  What could be next?

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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