Glenn Greenwald – fact-based discussion of U.S.-Iranian relations between Chris Matthews and Pat Buchanan on MSNBC Monday night, after Ahmadinejad’s speech

Glenn Greenwald writes, “it was actually refreshing to see the quite rational and fact-based discussion of U.S.-Iranian relations between Chris Matthews and Pat Buchanan on MSNBC Monday night, after Ahmadinejad’s speech. The entire discussion is worth reading, but what was most notable about it was their recognition of indisputable facts which undermine the predominant American media narrative of the Evil, Hitlerian Iranian regime hating the angelic, freedom-loving, innocent, victimized United States (why do they hate us??):

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about a couple things. I thought — you know, I’m not going to give him credit for anything big time, but he did score some interesting points. He said the United States backed Iraq in the war, the bloody horrible war with Iran that killed a lot of Iranians. That‘s going to help him back home, sticking it to us for backing Saddam all those years.

BUCHANAN: Right. . . .

BUCHANAN: Chris, to your point, he said two things. The Western nations invented chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. The Americans used them on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and they were used on our people in the war against Iraq, where you all supported Iraq against Iran. Now, all those are statements of fact, and they‘re very, very persuasive in the Arab and Islamic world in making his case.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, gentlemen, about human nature. It seems to me that the whole third world case against the first world is that we have humiliated that part of the world, manipulated their governments, used the CIA to put people like the Shah — by the way, the Shah’s not from royal blood or anything. They just created that throne for him. The CIA put him in there against the democratically elected prime minister. We have exploited that country for its cheap oil. We’ve taken advantage of that country. And now we say we want justice.

Is there not an Iranian case against the United States and the West, Mr. Weprin, or do you say they’re dead wrong, the country’s just wrong and we‘re right? . . . .

MATTHEWS: We took over their country, though, didn’t we? Didn’t we put the shah in power? Wasn‘t it Kermit Roosevelt and the CIA that put him in power?

BUCHANAN: No, it was Eisenhower. It was…

MATTHEWS: Yes. Eisenhower. It was under Kermit Roosevelt.


BUCHANAN: Yes. Yes, Chris, you‘re…

MATTHEWS: We did that.

BUCHANAN: Look, there’s an Iranian case against the West and an American case against Iran. That’s why we ought to sit down and put it all on both sides of the table. And I think we do have things where we disagree profoundly, but we have issues on which we agree. We both — neither of us wants the Taliban back. Neither of us wants the Sunni Ba’athist dictatorship back. Neither of us wants an all-out war. Those are common interests.

There really is this child-like need in American mainstream political discourse constantly to believe that we are fault-free and that when there is hostility directed at us from other parts of the world, it is always baffling and unjustified and crazy and malicious. And the accompanying cartoon-like belief is that anyone who has hostility towards the U.S. is some demented, crazed, Hitler-like monster.

It really ought not be that difficult to understand that a country which rules the world by military force; invades, bombs and occupies other countries far more than anyone else; overthrows other countries’ governments — including their democratically elected ones — and openly debates what other governments it should change; and issues endless lectures to the world about the evils of tyranny and nuclear weapons while constantly violating those sermons (and encouraging our allies to do so) with actions, is going to trigger rather intense and substantial hostility around the world, particularly in those regions where we are doing the invading, bombing, occupying and controlling. As George Washington explained quite clearly a couple hundred years ago, that is precisely why it is so ill-advised to engage in that behavior.

The idea that we are the source of all Good in the world and that all anti-American anger is irrational is just the opposite side of the same Manichean coin that holds that the U.S. is the principal source of evil in the world. But while the latter form of irrational moralism is relegated to the fringes (at least in American politics), the former predominates in virtually all political discussions. On an individual level, most people have little difficulty understanding that a refusal to recognize one’s own faults is one of the most self-destructive attributes a person can possess. But when it comes to the U.S. collectively, recognizing America’s faults — the actions we take to trigger anti-American animus — is virtually prohibited. READ ARTICLE


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