I saw this post on social media the other day:
It must be possible to try to understand what is going on in North Africa, the Middle East and South-West Asia without trying to blame just one person for anything. With all due respect to Cangal48 and to Representative Kevin McCarthy, it is clear that we are in a “chain of events.”
Prime Minister Trudeau is correct: had the United States not killed General Qassem Soleimani then it is highly unlikely that a trigger happy Iranian would have aimed what appear to be two Russian made missiles at Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 just as it took off from Tehran.
But Justin Trudeau and Kevin McCarthy are also oversimplifying.
The US would not have killed General Soleimani had Iran, often at his instigation, not launched murderous terrorist attacks on Americans and on America’s friends and, most recently, on the US Embassy in Baghdad.
General Soleimani and Ali Khamenei and Hassan Rouhani would not be in power had US (and European) policies towards the Middle east been different in the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s.
We are, all of us, Americans, Canadians and Iranians trapped by history. There is little to be gained by trying to parse current events and assign blame to someone. To whom? Eisenhower? Atlee? Eden? Mohammad Reza Pahlavi? Or shall we go all the way back to Ali, the Prophet Muhammad’s son-in-law? Because the problems that beset the region go back that far, to the year 632, and they still matter, a lot, today.
As I have said, too many times to count, the problems in the Middle East are hideously (or delightfully, take your pick) complex and, in my opinion, they need a reformation, a counter-reformation, a brutal series of internecine regional wars and some sort of enlightenment to sort out. I’m not sure that Ali Khamenei and sundry other regional despots actually understand the wider world, or if they do, that they accept it. That’s their problem. Our problem is: how to prevent their ancient, internecine disputes from spilling over into our world?
Perhaps the most encouraging thing out of all this is this image (from The Economist) …
… of an Iranian lady wagging an accusatory finger at a police officer. Iranians lost family members in that tragedy, too. They are unhappy with their government, as they should be. Will the anger grow and spread, à la Hong Kong? Or will the Iranians crackdown, brutally, again?
No individual, not even when he represents a country, is to “blame” for the loss of so many innocent lives. History is playing its own hand. Justin Trudeau and Kevin McCarthy need to stop looking for people to blame and start worrying about their respective countries’ vital interests. I talked about some of Canada’s vital interests a couple of days ago. I hope for the former; the latter will not surprise me.
Of course, Iran (Khamenei and Rouhani) is to blame; and, of course, Donald Trump (the USA) is to blame, too. But, really, who cares? The blameworthy are many and varied and not mutually exclusive. What matters is why do we, all of us, do to protect and promote our countries’ vital interests … remember Lord Palmerston dictum:
Our, the US-led West’s, overarching goal needs to be to contain the Middle East, indeed to contain the whole Islamic Crescent, until the peoples there (the plural matters) there can sort themselves out. Assigning blame is just pointless, partisan, political posturing.