Pence's Despicable Shilling for the MEK

The willingness of so many prominent politicians and ex-officials to embrace such a group reflects how warped and toxic the debate over Iran policy is in this country.

Mike Pence joins the long and growing list of current and former elected officials and retired officers to discredit themselves by shilling for the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), the deranged cult and “former” terrorist organization that seeks regime change in Iran and pretends it is a legitimate opposition group:

Pence described the MEK as "a well-organized, fully prepared, perfectly qualified and popularly supported alternative" to the current government in Iran. Rajavi, he said, is "an inspiration to the world."

It isn’t surprising that some former Trump administration officials have become pro-MEK shills since they left government. Even if they weren’t lacking in integrity and apparently willing to take money from anyone, they share the MEK’s hostility to Iran and they are presumably only too happy to cheer on a group that almost all Iranians everywhere despise. Fortunately, there are no longer MEK boosters in charge of U.S. policy right now, but the MEK’s extensive network of bought-and-paid-for cheerleaders in both parties means that their baleful influence will continue to be felt in our Iran policy debates for years to come. MEK shills have already demonstrated that they have no shame if they’re willing to endorse a group like this in public, but it is important to keep explaining why their support for this group is so damning. This is a group that has American blood on its hands, and it routinely abuses its own members. It is an oppressive and fanatical organization, and it would be a nightmare if it ever managed to gain power over a larger population. There is a reason it has sometimes been likened to the Khmer Rouge.

In terms of its support inside Iran and among the Iranian diaspora, the group is hated and little more than a bad joke, but thanks to the funds it can lavish on its propagandists it has been able to buy support in Washington. In other words, it is irrelevant to internal Iranian politics, but it has considerable influence among our political class. They are an exile group with no support at home, and so they seek to enlist other governments, especially ours, to do their dirty work for them. There is some reason to believe that the MEK receives funding from Saudi Arabia, and former Saudi officials have spoken at MEK events in recent years, and that would account for how the group can throw around such exorbitant speakers’ fees.

Any former official or retired officer that throws in with the MEK proves beyond any doubt that he hates the Iranian people and wants to cause them harm. In Pence’s case, we already knew that from the policies he supported in Congress and as Vice President, but it is useful to have it confirmed. Anyone that embraces this awful group as though it represented a credible alternative to the Iranian government also proves that he doesn’t understand the first thing about Iran and his views on Iran policy should be dismissed out of hand. The willingness of so many prominent politicians and ex-officials to embrace such a group reflects how warped and toxic the debate over Iran policy is in this country. It is not a coincidence that a political culture that legitimizes a cruel organization like the MEK will also support cruel and inhumane policies that punish tens of millions of ordinary people in Iran with economic warfare.

Legal corruption in Washington is often pretty brazen, but the ongoing campaign to promote a brutal and totalitarian cult as the future of Iran may be one of the most despicable examples I have seen.