Iranian officials have struck back at the Trump administration’s verbal attacks on Iran, suggesting the U.S. should worry about its own domestic problems before turning a critical eye towards them. According to al-Monitor, an arguably pro-Tehran media site:
“Iranian officials have condemned US Secretary of Defense James Mattis for calling for regime change in Iran. During an interview with a high school newspaper, Mattis said US relations with Tehran will have to wait ‘until the Iranian people can get rid of this theocracy.’ He also referred to Iran as ‘the most destabilizing influence in the Middle East.’ The interview, published June 20, went viral July 10 and was picked up by a number of English-language media outlets.”
Mattis’ statements reek of hypocrisy considering the most extreme theocracies in the Middle East continue to maintain close relationships with the U.S. as the U.S. singles out Iran because of its independent foreign policy interests.
According to al-Monitor, Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan responded to Mattis’ comments on July 11.
“Instead of making decisions for other countries,” he said, “the secretary of defense and the American ruling party better think about their own domestic issues and review the causes of the collapse of its administration in the not too distant future.”
There are a number of prevailing problems that come to mind when one thinks of the issues plaguing America’s domestic culture, from rampant brutality imposed by its police forces to rising inequality, staggering debt, and the fact that the country elected a racist, misogynistic, warmongering tycoon as its president.
Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman, Bahram Ghassemi, also responded to Mattis’s comments, stating “Terrorism and extremism in the region and the world have roots in America’s ill-considered policies.” Rejecting the claim that Iran sponsors terrorism, he warned that the region would not forget what the U.S. did to Fallujah and Haditha. In 2004, U.S. Marines heavily bombarded Fallujah, and the effects of this assault are still plaguing the local population in the form of dramatic increases in cancer and infant mortality rates.
The people and government of Iran also haven’t forgotten what America has done in the last century, let alone the last decade. Iran still remembers that the CIA overthrew its democratically elected leader in 1953, and this is why the country’s leaders continue to refer to the U.S. as the Great Satan. It is largely because of this 1953 interference that Iran became such an autocratically ruled country; the 1979 revolution was a result of the people’s desire to overthrow the American-backed Shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, a brutal dictator. And yet even Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has openly admitted that the U.S. is looking to try the exact same strategy again by supporting elements inside Iran in order to oust its current leadership.
Though Iran is hardly democratic by many standards, the country did boast over a 70 percent voter turnout in its most recent elections. By comparison, the U.S. barely gets over 50 percent election after election. A country where roughly half of its eligible voters don’t vote at all has little standing to criticize or attempt to interfere in any country in the world in the name of democracy — especially one that enjoys greater democratic participation than the U.S. does.
Iran’s responses to Mattis’s comments are ultimately somewhat well-founded. The U.S. should have no say in the internal politics of Iran (or Russia and Syria for that matter) and should at least address its own shortcomings before it goes on a global crusade to force countries into submission.
Even if all of the charges against Iran the Trump administration continues to present are true, it does not absolve the U.S. of its own culpability in the very same allegations it hurls at Iran, nor does it absolve America’s allies, who continue to wreak havoc across the Middle East.