The Scaredy-Hawks

To justify their irrational fear of much weaker states, they are compelled to concoct ludicrous scenarios.

The Wall Street Journal editors must be trying their hand at comedy:

Reports that two Iranian frigates may be steaming into the Atlantic toward Venezuela ought to concentrate minds in the Biden Administration. So much for Iranian goodwill amid President Biden’s determination to rejoin the 2015 nuclear deal.

The editorial is referring to the two Iranian ships reported on in the silly article I wrote about earlier this week. It’s as if they want to prove my point about how ridiculous and warped the Iran debate is in this country. No one expects any “Iranian goodwill,” especially not when the U.S. continues to keep all “maximum pressure” sanctions in place while negotiations are ongoing in Vienna. If Iran and Venezuela are increasing their military cooperation, it might just have something to do with the economic wars that the U.S. has been waging against both countries. Driving targeted governments together is a predictable consequence of unremitting U.S. hostility. That said, the specter of closer Iranian-Venezuelan cooperation should not frighten or alarm us any more now than it did when Rick Santorum was peddling this same fearmongering nonsense 15 years ago.

If anything, the voyage of these two Iranian ships should underscore that Iran poses no threat to the United States and neither does Venezuela. Our government’s obsessions with throttling Iran and seeking regime change in Venezuela are irrational and serve no legitimate American interest. Hawks are desperate to exaggerate everything about the two states’ relationship to make our hostile policies seem at least slightly justifiable when they are not. The fact that we have a major newspaper editorializing about the movements of Iranian naval vessels is cause for embarrassment on their part and laughter on ours.

The editorial warns that if Iranian ships enter the Caribbean without challenge, it might encourage others to do the same:

If it sails into these waters without resistance, a precedent will be set for adversarial navies operating in the region. Don’t be surprised if Russia and China decide to join the party in the future.

This is silly on several levels. Governments don’t send ships to the other side of the planet unless they have some reason to send them there, and it’s not as if the Russian navy hasn’t already made a habit of visiting Cuba long before this non-event. Suppose that other navies “join the party” by sailing in international waters and then visiting other sovereign states. What of it? If hawks actually believed what they said about freedom of navigation, they should have no problem with this.

One thing to learn from these hawkish panics over nothing is that hawks’ constant threat inflation has them chasing after shadows and jumping at the slightest sound. To justify their irrational fear of much weaker states, they are compelled to concoct ludicrous scenarios. For example, the editorial imagines that U.S. and Iranian ships might clash over Guyanese boundaries. The same people that saw nothing wrong with the Trump administration’s belligerent, aggressive Iran policy for the last four years are suddenly worried about a “risk of confrontation.”

Unfortunately, this editorial reflects typical Republican hawkish thinking about Iran, and it shows us why we cannot have a sane policy debate.