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How the United States Can—And Cannot—Help Iranian Protesters: Podcast

Friday, January 12, 2018 20:10
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“There are just millions of Iranians who don’t want to live under a corrupt clerical fascist state,” says Bloomberg View writer Eli Lake about the current protests in Iran. That may not mean Iran is fed up with theocracy, just that they’ve had it with corrupt theocracy—the current protests started over the price of eggs. Reason’s Nick Gillespie spoke with Lake about the protests and what they mean for Iran moving forward.

America has dabbled in regime change in Iran before. In 1953 the democratically elected Mossadegh government wanted to nationalize Iran’s oil industry, prompting the United States and Great Britain to sponsor a coup and install a Western-friendly ruler. That ended in 1979 when a coalition of Islamists, Marxists, and students coalesced around the Ayatollah Khomeini, who became the head of the republic (and promptly oppressed his revolutionary comrades).

Lake, who writes about national security and foreign affairs, charts options America can pursue to help protesters without either delegitimating their movement or resorting to a military intervention.

Audio production by Ian Keyser.

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This is a rush transcript. Check audio for accuracy.

Nick Gillespie: This is the Reason podcast and I’m your host, Nick Gillespie. Please subscribe to us at iTunes and rate and review us while you’re there. Today we’re going to talk about Iran, what’s going on there, why is it happening now, and what if anything the United States should do to address this issue. I’ve turned to Eli Lake. He’s a columnist who writes about national security and foreign affairs for Bloomberg View, and he’s written for Reason over the years as well. Eli, thanks for joining us.

Eli Lake: It’s great to be here. Thanks for having me, Nick.

Gillespie: Let’s get to it. What is happening in Iran? And I hate to say ‘Iran,’ but that’s the time that I grew up. What’s happening in Iran right now with the demonstrations against the Islamic government there?

Lake: Well first of all, we have less of a window because the government shut down most Internet functions, so we’re finding that when we get videos they’re usually a couple days old at this point and it’s not like it was 11 days ago when all this started, but we’ve seen rolling protests throughout the country as opposed to 2009 where we just largely saw this in Tehran, and they are not from the upper middle class, the elites in Iran. They are really from the working class and they were originally protests that were about the kind of economic inequality but in the Iranian system really it’s about just how the henchmen of the dictator, the Revolutionary Guard Corps run a lot of the Iranian economy like the mafia, so there was a frustration and some of it was because there had been banks that had failed, pension funds that were failing and they saw that there were a lot of regime figures who were raking in tons of money and so this was a part of it, but-

Gillespie: Do we know if the demonstrations all over the country are about the same thing? Or you were talking about Tehran which, it’s the largest city and it’s the hub of the cultural and economic power, but then as you start moving out into smaller and smaller areas or regions, are they protesting against the same issues?

Lake: There has been a common theme which is that they started off literally about the price of eggs, but then like we saw in 2009 almost in an instant turned into chants against the dictator and the regime, and this confirmed something that we should have known since the late 1990s which is that there are millions of Iranians. They’re not just students we know anymore. There are just millions of Iranians who don’t want to live under a corrupt clerical fascist state, which Iran is and there have been efforts at reform starting with the election in ’97 of Mohammad Khatami as president. He was stymied by the permanent deep state of Iran to implement any of the reforms, even though he objected to them. He could do nothing to stop the crackdown in 1999 against Tehran University students who were demonstrating then, and by the way who was the person who authorized this crackdown and these arrests? It was none other than Hassan Rouhani, the magical moderate who Obama promised us was a reformer, which he is not.

We saw it in the 2000s with a figure that I wrote a lot about at the time named Akbar Ganji who now lives in Toronto, but he was in jail and he got a lot of attention because he wrote an open letter to the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khomeini saying, ‘You should stand for an election.’ We saw it again in 2009 when they were chanting ‘Death to the dictator’ after they stole the election of what was known at the time as the Green Movement.

And then we’re seeing it again in 2017/2018 with again, it starts off as a sort of concern about where are the benefits of this Iran deal? Why are we economically less secure than after the big deal with the Great Satan, but they quickly turn to what is the common theme in Iran around 20 years now which is, ‘We don’t want to be ruled by an unaccountable, corrupt system that is able to stay in power through mass arrests and fear and these kinds of things,’ and one of the most extraordinary things is that they’re saying, ‘I’d give my life to Iran.’ Not for Gaza, not for Lebanon, not for Syria.

Now that’s very interesting, because the assumption many analysts had was that these foreign predations from the Iranians that we’ve seen in the last few years were widely popular because Iranians are a proud people. They’re sort of saying, ‘What are you doing? We got all these problems-’

Gillespie: And not simply that Iranians are a proud people, but that Muslims are transnational one way or the other, right? That Islam is not … I’m laughing as I say it. Unlike say Roman Catholicism, Islam is a transnational phenomenon so of course Iran is going to help Syria out, et cetera.

Lake: That’s the propaganda of the regime, but what ended up happening is that in order to … Of course Iran will help Syria out. Assad and his father were allies and now I would say Bashar is a client of the Iranians, but that prompted other Muslim powers in the region, namely Saudi Arabia to say, ‘Wait a second. You’re on the side of a dictator who’s gassing his own people.’ And that is another thing we should never lose sight of. That in the moment of this diplomacy with the Iranians under Obama, they were underwriting and they were the lifeline for a dictator committing the worst atrocity of the 21st century so far. Let’s hope it’s-

Gillespie: How does the Iran deal play into this? Because on one level obviously the promised delivery of those planes full of cash of various kinds of currency has not made it to the Iranian people so they’re kind of pissed off, but did brokering a deal with the Great Satan actually remove one of the props that the regime was able to say, ‘Oh, this is why … Just simmer down and settle down. This is not a time for change.’ Or, ‘Don’t mess with us because we’re locked in a twilight struggle with the Great Satan.’

Lake: That’s an argument that I’ve been seeing from some of the Obama administration alumni and mainly Wendy Sherman made this point in a Time Magazine piece, and I don’t think it’s correct because of a couple things. The first is that Khamenei has been blaming the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Israel for the unrest anyway. Second of all, the Iranian people have not wanted to be ruled by Khamenei as the supreme leader now for some time long before the Obama administration, or for that matter the George W. Bush administration.

It has been a widely, I think much more popular sentiment than a lot of analysts have said, and finally you could argue perhaps that there was an expectation that was raised by Rouhani, but Rouhani also promised in this campaigns to free political prisoners and to focus on human rights and he hasn’t done any of that. Recently he said that there was going to be I guess a sort of reform to the moral police, but he has not been able to do any of these kinds of domestic reforms and has instead largely focused on trying to get this large amount of European investment in Iran but again, that investment goes to the economic elites. The people who are connected to the Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Gillespie: So what you’re saying, and this seems to me to be a problem with certainly post-World War II 20th century diplomacy or foreign policy. What you’re saying is that what’s happening in Iran mostly has to do with people who live and work and oppress people within Iran. It’s not to say the larger geopolitical situation doesn’t matter, but that it’s fundamentally what we’re looking at here is a people who have been under a consistently awful, repressive, economically idiotic government since 1979 and at various points they’ve said, ‘Come on. We want something different. We want something different.’ And that’s what’s happening again here.

Lake: Right. I don’t think Iranians are on the street saying, ‘America, please invade us,’ or, ‘We can’t do this without your help, Donald Trump.’ That’s not what’s happening. What I think they have been saying is, ‘We want to be a normal country already,’ and that they can’t be a normal country when their leadership are these crazed, greedy fanatics.

Gillespie: Can we talk about that a little bit?

Lake: Sure.

Gillespie: How much of it is that … And I realize it’s certainly a mix of things, but would they be okay with theocrats if the theocrats weren’t hypocrites? Or is it more that they don’t want to be ruled by theocrats, especially corrupt ones who are somehow making bank while they have to suffer degradations and morals police?

Lake: I’m going to say I don’t know the answer to that and I don’t think there is an easy answer to that. I think that there’s certainly plenty of educated Iranians who want to be able to watch whatever movies they want and not have to worry about a knock on the door if they have some liquor in their home or something like that. That I know. I was there in 2002 and I talked to Iranians who told me about this all the time, and there’s sort of an attitude there where it’s like yeah, well you know, it’s technically forbidden but it’s permissible. There’s a kind of look the other way, but that is the basis of any kind of corrupt system. When you have a bunch of rules that are enforced arbitrarily, that’s a hallmark of a corrupt system and I think it erodes confidence overall.

I don’t think that there’s that many Iranians besides the fanatics in what’s known as the Basij that really believe in the revolution with the same fervor as certainly supporters of the Iranian Revolution in 1979. I think that that’s petered out, but on the other hand it’s a very religious country and the notion that you could maybe have a scenario where there would be some kind of respect for Islamic law but not having the kind of corruption. Maybe that would be very popular in a different context, but I think right now they’re just sort of looking around there saying, ‘This system is rotten to a core and we’re not getting what we want out of it so we want a change.’

Gillespie: Before we get to the question of how this might play out or will it catch this time, is there a way when these kind of moments happen to understand that this one is different, or why they’re happening now? Because say it’s not really related to the Iran deal. It’s probably not really related to Syria or Saudi Arabia. Is it related to the collapse of Iraq as a regional adversary? In Tunisia when the Arab Spring started there was that horrifying moment when a fruit vendor lit himself on fire because he was frustrated, and that was the match that lit a broader revolt. Hosni Mubarak getting old and sick in Egypt. It allowed for an opening for an uprising which may or may not have really accomplished anything, but is there any reason or is it worth trying to pinpoint what is different this time? Or is it just when you oppress people for a long time, it’s like a flint hitting a piece of steel. It’s constantly throwing off sparks and every once in a while those just catch into a bigger conflagration.

Lake: I think you hit it. To quote the Mighty Mos Def, ‘Why did one straw break the camel’s back? Here’s the secret: the million other straws underneath it.’

Gillespie: And of course there he was talking about his controversial opinions about 9/11.

Lake: 9/11.

Gillespie: Right, and for those who don’t know, the very talented actually Mos Def. Very good actor as well-

Lake: Great rapper.

Gillespie: Who is a 9/11 truther. So it really is kind of like, ‘That’s all I can take. I can’t takes no more’ type of thing.

Lake: I think that we’re going to learn more about this over the next year. The one thing I would say as a matter of how to approach it is I think it’s the beginning of a moment. It’s not like the regime is going to fall tomorrow, and it’s impossible to predict those kind of tipping points. There’s just too much information that we can’t possibly know. I have reason to believe that some of this is a little bit more organized nationally than it appears, but it looks like it’s a leaderless movement.

Gillespie: Now, you say that. Why do you believe that? Do you actually have sources or are you playing a hunch? And I know like a rogue cop you play by your own rules, but we’re talking about reporting here. This isn’t the Michael Wolfe show. This is the Reason podcast. Okay, Lake?

Lake: I don’t want to get too much into it because I’m still working on it, but I have covered the Iranian opposition now for some time, and by the Iranian opposition I don’t mean the monarchists or the MEK. I mean the people who I would consider to be sort of the liberal opposition, and I just believe that there’s more behind the scenes but I think it’s also true that there isn’t a leader of it the way there was is the Green moment where everybody got behind Mousavi and Karroubi who were the two political leaders running for president who they believe had the election stolen.

I want to just go back to something you said earlier which I think was a really good point which was, it requires some analytic humility that it’s not always about us, and I think that as I drift closer to libertarianism in my middle age I have really come to appreciate that the triumphalism of neoconservativism, which is to say our interventions can change a country, the flip side of that is like the Obama view that, this negotiation can transform the politics. And we have to have a little bit of humility that there is a dynamic in these countries independent of America despite what the leadership says or however much they want to use America as a foil in their own propaganda, and that is an important thing. It doesn’t lead me to say that we should never intervene or that we don’t have a stake in this.

I think that there’s a lot that regular people but plus the governments in the West can do to support and show solidarity with the Iranian freedom movement, but at the same time we should understand that we’re not the decisive factor. It’s going to be ultimately people on the ground and how they organize and whether they can persuade elements of the regime to ultimately defect by convincing them that it’s safe. We’re not going to chop your head off if you come to our side.

Gillespie: What are the lessons that we might learn from failed attempts to overthrow the regime, or at least heavily alter it in 2009 and 1999? Are there-

Lake: I don’t think we did anything really in ’99 or 2009.

Gillespie: Right. No, but I’m saying within Iran. What are the lessons that the rebels themselves might learn about what is necessary or what is likely?

Lake: The first they appear to have already learned, which is that you need to have a national movement. It can’t just be centered in Tehran, and that’s practical because it’s harder for the dictator … One of the reasons why the democracy movement in Beijing sadly petered out in Tiananmen Square was because the entire demonstrations and protests were focused on one very small piece of real estate so it was easy for the Chinese to bring their military to bear and ultimately crush it. This time it’s much harder to put out these fires all over the country, and it means that you’re not able to concentrate the forces that you would use to beat people and arrest them, et cetera.

That’s one lesson I think that they’ve learned. The one that I hope they learn and I’ve written a little bit about this is that we’ve seen some arson. We’ve seen certainly there have been some people on the outside who’ve called for you should kill members of the Revolutionary Guard Corps. And while I certainly would say that given the brutality of the organizations like the Basij or the Ministry of Intelligence and things like that that in some ways you could argue it’s justified, it’s very poor tactics. If it’s a violent struggle, if it’s a violent revolution then the regime will win because they have more guns, and the most important strategic thing is not amassing a million people in one place, although that’s very impressive and it’s important to get the rest of the world to see that you’re doing that, but it’s much more important to get a local Revolutionary Guard Corps commander or a Basij militia person to basically disobey orders to disperse the crowds.

That is very important is you want to create as wide a coalition as possible. Because you’re going to have to live with most of these people. You got to … The next day. And then finally I’m a big believer in nonviolent direct action in this respect, sometimes known as ‘people power.’ The other big thing why it’s important is that when you have a vanguard, an armed vanguard, they almost always turn into after independence or the revolution.

Gillespie: This is Cromwell. This is Bolivar. This is the Sandinistas. Here’s a question for you. In a Middle Eastern context, and in an Islamic context, have we seen people power work in the way, and using that term loosely more as a … I wouldn’t say pacifistic, but a civil disobedience based movement which you saw in, you mentioned Tiananmen Square obviously didn’t work in China, but that footage was widely circulated throughout eastern Europe and everybody agrees that the footage of the demonstrations in the spring of ’89 helped lead to the tearing down of the Berlin Wall in the fall of ’89 and ultimately revolts in the Baltic States. Which were marvelously and incredibly and unpredictably bloodless. With the exception really of Romania, the entire communist world collapsed, in Europe anyway. Has there been a case of that either in an Islamic country or in an Arab country where peaceful revolt has actually been successful?

Lake: Well Tunisia is one example where I think we could say there’s success, and although I wouldn’t call it success because Ayatollah Khomeini turned violent and purged his allies but you can say that they threw off the shah through largely a people power movement although there were certainly violent elements of it. They took the Americans hostage and things like that. And also, very important. Persians who are the majority ethnicity of Iran are different than Arabs, and they’re going to be-

Gillespie: Yes. Absolutely, yeah.

Lake: And the Iranian people I think are … There’s more of a tradition of this kind of thing in Iran than there is say in Saudi Arabia, not to say that someday there couldn’t be something like that in Saudi Arabia but there’s not the same sort of history.

Gillespie: Well in terms of history, what is the role that the United States historically has played in Iran, and how did that feed into at least the rhetoric if not the reality of the Islamic revolution in 1979?

Lake: Listen, in ’79 there was certainly an argument to be made, and listen, this is fact. The US … Kermit Roosevelt, the nephew of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, along with his British counterpart who I’m forgetting organized a coup against a populist Iranian president, Mossadegh. And in that coup, and this is very important, there had already been a bit of a showdown so that he dissolved the Iranian Majlis, their parliament. So there was a vying for power and it was in the beginning of the Cold War. I’m not making excuses for it, but-

Gillespie: Right, right. No.

Lake: But that ended up securing the Pahlavi dynasty.

Gillespie: Right. And it is in the context again … And I think I’m probably more sharply critical of it than you, but we both, we understand that there was a land grab essentially after World War II that was related to the Cold War where the Soviets and their allies, which at that point included communist China, were looking for countries that they could move into and influence and the free world, NATO and the United States were doing exactly the same thing and Iran, not only was it a huge country but it was a relatively wealthy and relatively forward country.

Lake: Yeah, and extremely important in terms of oil which was the name of the game at the time.

Gillespie: Was Mossadegh, was he religious in a way that the Ayatollah Khomeini would recognize? Because it seems in a weird way that the Islamic world is getting more and more hyper-religious, or at least the ruling classes are in a way.

Lake: No, and this is the great irony that you never hear. First of all, I don’t want to say that I’m defending—

Gillespie: Oh no, no. I don’t think you were at all.

Lake: But at the time the the cleracy was basically brought into this coup plan and supported the assertion of Pahlavi as the shah, so it shows that that clerical class was a very different kind of thing. Khomeini represented a different strain of Shia Islam, and we can go on, but the point is that there’s always been the clerics in Iran. Well not always, but since the advent of Islam, and they play a part in that society, and Mossadegh himself was not particularly religious. He was however saying he wanted to nationalize the oil companies, and that was in some ways a redline for the UK and the US at the time. That’s the history and—

Gillespie: The US was heavily involved by 1979 when you’re looking at a very different … It’s almost difficult to recapture that even though those of us who lived through it remember it very well where the Soviet Union was starting to move into Afghanistan in 1979. The Cold War looked like it was going to last forever. The United States itself seemed to be in a very weakened position globally as well as domestically, and it made sense … There was also a lot of huge actions within the Islamic world and in Saudi Arabia.

Lake: Right. There was the seizure of the holiest mosque. Right.

Gillespie: Yeah, yeah. And the Sauds ended up calling in French commandos to clean it up. So it would be easy, and I guess most people if they remember anything about it it’s from the movie Argo, but it was relatively easy for the Ayatollah Khomeini to demonize the shah’s regime, not simply as awful in itself which it certainly was repressive and it was a police state, et cetera, but also as a puppet of Western regimes.

Lake: Right, but the shah made what I think is the mistake that Sisi is making right now in Egypt which is that he failed to distinguish between what should be an opposition that would lead to a democratization versus an existential threat to the order of things, and because of that the original Islamic revolution in ’79 had Marxist allies in Iran, liberals, people who just wanted the same thing I think many Iranians want today which is to be a normal country and live under a much less corrupt and more open society.

All of that said, as soon as Khomeini comes in, his forces start by purging the Marxists, who become what’s known today as the MEK or the Mojahedin-e Khalq, and they have assorted history. They side with Saddam Hussein in the Iran/Iraq war. Their leader Maryam Rajavi now is based in Paris, much like the way that Khomeini was based in Paris before the ’79 resolution. And I don’t think they have as much credibility as they claim in terms of the Iranian opposition today. In fact everybody I talk to who’s not part of the MEK says that to me, but the roots of this opposition start with the purges after the revolution, so I think it gets back to another reason why it’s important if we can to lay out basic, a bargain if you will from Europe and America which is to say, ‘We’re with you, opposition, but as long as you remain a nonviolent movement, and we will not continue to engage the Iranian regime if they suppress with violence what is largely a nonviolent movement.’ That is an important thing that the Europeans have yet to say, and that’s extremely disheartening. I just wrote a column about that.

Gillespie: Have the Americans said that yet?

Lake: Trump has not said it in his tweets, but that I believe is the message that you’re getting from other elements of the administration, but that’s an important message. The other thing I think the United States can do right away is to place communications satellites over Iran and to work with trying to get around the regime’s ban on the Internet. That’s something that the US has some experience with and that would be a quick way to undermine the regime without …

First of all, the CIA and coups and paramilitary stuff, that absolutely should not happen. That’s going to make matters worse. It’s not our revolution. It’s their revolution. But as I said, we should think of it as ways to show solidarity, and I think the biggest thing is in civil society which is, we shouldn’t forget the political prisoners the way we did after 2009 and it should be an ongoing campaign the way that we see in the academic left against Israel that if a major European energy concern like Total wants to do a big deal with the Iranians for the Pars oil and gas fields or something, they should pay a kind of social price for that if there are still lots of political prisoners in-

Gillespie: And of course those tactics were also used in South Africa against South Africa, right?

Lake: Right, the Soviet Union who didn’t allow Jews to emigrate. That’s a very successful thing that happens in the West that’s largely independent of a government and just is about activating civil society to show solidarity with people, and that to me you could be doing a lot more. I wrote a column last week recommending that nominating if you will Barack Obama would be a good candidate. Somebody who understands community organizing, although I have since been told by a lot of Iranians that he’s damaged goods and should stay out of it, but anyways.

Gillespie: Let me go back to something that you touched on briefly and talking about why the US and the UK in particular were very, very interested in Iran after World War II, as were the Soviets. It had to do with oil. Oil is starting to creep up again towards $70 a barrel on the world market, but energy costs have been historically low for a very long time and we’re seeing some destabilization in countries that are oil rich including places like Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and Iran. Is it going too far to suggest that perhaps because oil is worth less than it used to be on the world stage that this time it might be different because what the regime can rely on, or any regime that relies on oil wealth, it’s tougher to make a buck doing that? And actually if you’re losing the economy, ultimately you also lose the whip as well.

Lake: I don’t know if I would go that far. We’re not seeing massive instability in Norway or Russia.

Gillespie: Well, that’s true but we are seeing increasing poverty in Russia and Norway is a very small country with more people, but for instance the United States is effectively energy independent and that also means that we’re going to be less interested in parts of the world that are oil rich that we used to be interested in.

Lake: Right. Well, I think we’re going to remain interested but for different reasons, and the reason that we are going to continue to be interested in the Middle East is because of this broader trend of what we talked about before which is Islamic fundamentalism and how that is a destabilizing force that is on the edges of the Islamic world, and that is something that we do have an interest in because at least last time I checked America wants to be … Not the world policemen I like to say, but-

Gillespie: Well, you want to say the indispensable nation, right?

Lake: Well, but I mean that we have an interest in just stability, which is a fuzzy concept at times, but the idea that you don’t want to see … And it’s a quick way to break out into wars when you have religious fanatics claiming a lost empire, which is what a lot of the activities on the extreme end of Jihadism are doing and have been doing now since the ’70s.

Gillespie: Well we won’t re-litigate the Iraq War, but it doesn’t quite fit that pattern, but here then besides the kind of shows of support or rather what the US would do and what we can learn from recent engagements in the 21st century that have not turned out particularly well for either the US or the people that we are trying to help, we should be doing things like civil society organizing, some technological interventions like communication satellites and things like that. What else? Are there any world bodies whether it’s a NATO which did not show its best face in Libya for sure, but like NATO or the UN or any other … The Arab League, things like this? Is there any hope there for useful interventions?

Lake: Again, I don’t think that military intervention is called for at all in Iran.

Gillespie: Yeah. And by that I mean … When I say intervention I don’t mean military intervention. I just mean engagement somehow.

Lake: The most important thing that we need to do is we need to recognize that the diplomacy around the Iran nuclear deal was basically conceding the shakedown of the Iranian regime which was that you are going to lift sanctions and you’re going to free up capital for us and we are going to put on pause what was already an illegal nuclear program. And instead the diplomacy should generally follow the rule of linkage which is that our most … This is me speaking and I don’t know if catch on, but I think the most important thing is, the big ask from the Iranians is that you can’t brutalize your own population. You cannot keep lawyers and students and activists in your prisons and you can’t just exile and kill your most talented citizens, and if you continue to do that then you will continue to find yourself isolated and with that in mind, I don’t think that the approach to sanctions should be we want to nuke your entire economy so to speak, but instead it should be very much focused on making it impossible to spend money that is ill-gotten from the regime.

So if you are one of these newly minted billionaires from their Revolutionary Guard Corps then you can’t go on shopping sprees in London or Paris or New York. You can’t send your kids to American or European universities. But also to find and try to seize that … I’m talking about the money that is used to enrich that elite class. There is a multi-billion dollar slush fund controlled by the supreme leader which is largely comprised of assets that are basically seized from many Iranian people like homes and things like that. Well that’s a perfect target for the Treasury Department, and it does two things.

One, it’s a real penalty to the people who are benefiting most from this unjust regime, but it’s a message to the Iranian people that we’re not trying to impoverish you. We’re trying to impoverish the people responsible for your impoverishment, and that would really require a sea change in how we do our policy and I hope we can do that and listen, I’ve been very critical of Trump as you have. The one maybe good thing about Trump is that he doesn’t have much caught up in the old ways of thinking about a lot of these things and so he might be open to something like that in a way that Obama or George W. Bush or others maybe wouldn’t be, although I don’t want to say George W. Bush because I think George W. Bush understood the imperative to support freedom movements when they arose, but let’s leave him aside.

My point is that what I just described to you is something that the policy community on Iran from the right and the left don’t talk about, but that is I think the third way that we should try to pursue.

Gillespie: Alright, we’re going to leave it there. Thank you so much Eli for talking-

Lake: Or we can talk about the Plastic Ono Band.

Gillespie: We’re going to leave that for … For a second there when you were talking about the Ayatollah Khomeini I thought you were going to bust into a version of, ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’ by Billy Joel which I believe also name checks-

Lake: The Bard of Long Island.

Gillespie: Yeah, of Hauppauge, Long Island or whatever. Well we will leave it there. We’ve been talking with Eli Lake. He’s a columnist at Bloomberg View. Check him out every week multiple times a week at Bloomberg View. Eli, thanks for talking to the Reason podcast.

Lake: Thanks so much for having me.

Gillespie: I am Nick Gillespie, your host. Thanks for listening and please rate and review us at iTunes. Subscribe to us there as well. Thanks so much.



Source: http://freedombunker.com/2018/01/12/how-the-united-states-can-and-cannot-help-iranian-protesters-podcast/

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