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Another Stupid Hawkish Panic About Iranian Ships
Treating this as if it were anything more than a port call is phenomenally stupid even for Iran hawks.
While their preferred policies have brought war closer in the Middle East, it is not surprising that Iran hawks want to talk about something else. The Wall Street Journal editors fume about two (count them, two!) Iranian ships docking in Brazil:
The arrival of two Iranian warships in Brazil on Sunday is unsettling for democracies in the Western hemisphere. Worse is that the Biden Administration seems to have been complicit in trying to bury the news.
The editorial goes on to claim that “President Biden’s domestic political agenda trumped security in the Americas.” That would be a damning charge if it weren’t devoid of merit and made in bad faith. No one seriously believes that the presence of two Iranian ships in our hemisphere threatens “security in the Americas.” This is nothing but cynical fearmongering designed to fault Biden for alleged “weakness” and to sour relations with a Brazilian government that hawks already despise for other reasons. There is no news to “bury” because there is nothing more to the story. We are all stupider now for having listened to the hawks’ arguments.
Ted Cruz was the first out of the gate with his own ridiculous overreaction to the news, calling the docking of the ships a “direct threat to the safety and security of Americans” and threatening Brazilian firms with sanctions. It would almost be funny if Cruz weren’t trying to demagogue this non-event into an excuse for damaging relations with one of our largest hemispheric trading partners. Threatening Brazilian firms with sanctions over nothing is a useful reminder of how unhinged hardliners are by even the slightest hint of Iranian influence. It is no wonder that so many other governments resent U.S. sanctions overreach.
The appropriate reaction to the arrival of Iranian ships in a Brazilian port is indifference. It does not matter that Brazil permitted them to dock, and it does not matter that they are there. They pose no threat to anyone in North or South America. Regional security is not at risk, and it has not been compromised. Treating this as if it were anything more than a port call is phenomenally stupid even for Iran hawks. It is a measure of how awful the Iran debate is in our country that people engaged in such absurd alarmism are still taken seriously. I had thought that there couldn’t possibly be anything stupider than the panic two years ago over Iranian ships sailing in the Atlantic, but now I can see that I was wrong about that.
One thing that this episode proves is that hawks like Cruz think that other states are not really sovereign and have to submit to U.S. dictates in all things, and if they dare to step out of line they should be punished. Brazil must obey or some of its people will face sanctions. It is the same imperialist mentality that has defined bad U.S. policies in Latin America for more than a century. The U.S. will continue to struggle in improving its relationships with our hemispheric neighbors when there are so many hawks in our country that view other states in the Americas as our vassals rather than equal partners.