These questions are rude, politically incorrect, and naive. But they pop into my brain from time to time, and I honestly don’t know the answers. Help me out.
- The Iranian Green Revolution seems to be withering in the face of the mullahs’ brutality. It’s hard to topple a regime with rocks when it has AK-47s and tanks. Question: Why haven’t we been arming the Iranian opposition? Why didn’t the people in the streets have AK-47s, grenades, rocket launchers, anti-tank weapons, and other arms of the kind that Iran has been channeling to the Iraqi resistance? What do we have a CIA for, anyway?
- The mullahs started their war against the United States in 1979 with the seizure of the American embassy. Once the hostages were released on January 20, 1981, we could have struck back at them without endangering Americans. There would have been overwhelming public support for such a move. (I remember the bumper stickers: “The Ayatollah is an assahollah.”) Why didn’t we? Why are the mullahs still alive? Have we no cruise missiles? Drones? Have we, over the past 28 years, had no idea where they are?
- “No blood for oil.” I used to see that bumper sticker on a certain car all the time on my way to work. It betrays an utter lack of understanding of the Iraq War. (Where, I used to think, was all this oil supposed to have gone? Why was gasoline over $3 a gallon?) But from one point of view it’s a good idea. We have transferred trillions of dollars to our ideological enemies over the past forty years, turning them from backward wastelands into world powers. Why? We and the British developed their oil fields. They then unjustly seized them, taking over the oil companies and seizing the profits. Why did we let that happen? Why don’t we take the oil fields back?
- The Saudis have been financing radical Wahhabi Islam and terrorism for years. Most of the 9/11 terrorists were Saudis. Why haven’t we retaliated? Why haven’t we killed or imprisoned the Saudi royal family, seized their wealth, and taken over the oil fields?
- Why did George Bush wait a full year before attacking Iraq in the vain hope of getting France and Germany on board? It only heightened the bogus “acting unilaterally” meme. Why did we then stop in Iraq? Why didn’t we topple the government in Syria? To get back to question 1, why weren’t we actively trying to undermine the government of Iran? Why didn’t we remake the map of the Middle East?
I realize that all these courses of action would have been risky. They would have risked American lives. They would have generated significant hostility in the Muslim world. They would have been denounced as aggression. Given that the Iraq War already generated most of those consequences, however, it isn’t obvious that we had much more to lose in the realm of international politics.
American lives are another matter. There might be good military reasons why these options were infeasible or too costly to contemplate seriously.
But why are they never even discussed in polite company? Why do I have to be very tired to dare to raise them in this blog?