Like The Hub?
Join our community.
Join

Patrick Luciani: The West helped enable the Iranian Revolution—And we are still paying the price

Commentary

Thinking about the tragedy in Israel this past week and the slaughter of innocents by Hamas terrorists guided and supported by the deadly hand of theocratic Iran, my mind went back to the Iranian Revolution that ended a 2,500-year-old Persian dynasty and what might have been. 

The fall of any regime has complex reasons. Still, one factor was a foreign and Western press aided by their leftist academic friends and activists who were caught up in a narrative of an underdog people versus a Western-backed authoritarian oppressor. Under that mentality, they were committed to bringing down the Kingdom of Reza Pahlavi, the Shah, while ignoring the dark cloud of tyranny gathering on the horizon under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. 

The syndrome is not new. Roger Scruton, the Diogenes of Britain, identified and dissected the condition—with characteristic prescience and clarity—when he wrote in the Times in 1984: 

Who remembers Iran? Who remembers, that is, the shameful stampede of Western journalists and intellectuals to the cause of the Iranian revolution? Who remembers the hysterical propaganda campaign against the Shah, the lurid press reports of corruption, police oppression, palace decadence, and constitutional crisis? Who remembers the thousands of Iranian students in Western universities enthusiastically absorbing the fashionable Marxist nonsense purveyed by armchair radicals so as one day to lead the campaign of riot and mendacity which preceded the Shah’s downfall?

His subject was the Iranian Revolution and the clash between the Shah and the Ayatollah. He laid out clearly how the West’s gullible and self-loathing intelligentsia justified a regime of subjugation and human abuses. Scruton would not have been surprised to learn that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard is a force behind Hamas. He all but predicted it would happen and that the uncritical Left in the West would again look like Lenin’s “useful idiots.” 

And who was this malicious Persian Shah that was such a threat? Looked carefully, he was a reformer struggling to bring Iran out of the dark ages of feudalism. He returned land to the peasants, built schools to fight illiteracy, and gave women the franchise to vote and run for office. Pahlavi saw himself as the Iranian Kemal Ataturk, a progressive who wanted to bring prosperity to his people by westernizing. One could argue that the Shah was an autocrat, but he wasn’t a tyrant, and there is a difference. 

The Shah was in a death struggle with Khomeini, who fought to thwart any modernization of Iran. Khomeini showed that there was only one route for Iran: rule by religious decree accompanied by the iron-clad belief that Israel and America were Islam’s greatest enemies. 

After an attempt on the Shah’s life, Khomeini was banished to the holy city of Najaf, Iraq, and even spent the last few months of exile in France. Once there, Michel Foucault, Jean-Paul Sartre, and President Francois Mitterand greeted him as a hero, again proving the Left’s strong taste for authoritarianism.  

The Shah believed that by becoming an ally of the West, he would be rewarded by staving off the Soviet influence in the Middle East. He was wrong. France, Germany, and the United States decided they could do business with a theocratic government rather than a weakened and indecisive leader who tried to appease his enemies at home while pleasing his Western allies abroad. 

The Shah tried to warn the West through interviews of the dangers to follow if he failed to remain in power. Still, the international press, including the American and Canadian media, including the CBC, relentlessly accused him of violating human rights without understanding the political situation in a country still trapped in the Middle Ages. They had no imagination of what would come under an absolute religious tyranny. 

Journalists who once travelled freely throughout Iran under the Shah were now barred from returning after the Revolution. If they could, Scruton writes, they would have to witness “things that beggar description: the spontaneous “justice of the revolutionary guards, the appalling scenes of violence, torture, and demonic frenzy, the public humiliation of women, the daily sacrifice of lives too young to be conscious of the meaning for which they are condemned to destruction.” This last reference is to the countless children sent to their deaths to clear landmines during the Iran-Iraq war. 

Western diplomats, journalists, and B-level scholars got their wish. They helped to defeat a flawed and perhaps hapless leader, and they inadvertently aided a greater evil. They turned their heads and refused to see the tragedy of bringing the mullahs to power. What’s the use of an educated mind if not to distinguish between good and evil?

‘If we are not careful, we will be become dangerously fragmented’: The best comments from Hub Forum this week

Commentary

When news broke on Saturday morning about the deadly surprise attack carried about by Hamas terrorists against Israeli civilians the world’s attention was entirely focused on the Middle East and, at The Hub, it was no different.

We featured a new essay or podcast about the war in Gaza every day this week and Hub Forum, our new web forum for Hub members, was buzzing all week with discussion about it.

The goal of Hub Forum is to bring the impressive knowledge and experience of The Hub community into one place and with that in mind, here are some of the most interesting comments this week.

Sign up for our daily Hub Forum email newsletter today.

David Frum: ‘Hamas started the war. Let Israel finish it’

Sunday, Oct. 8, 2023

“I suggest that pundits, aside from condemning Hamas and this “aktion” as a further example of why Hamas in most places is viewed as a terrorist organization, bite their tongues for a while to see once the dust settles, what Israeli does and whether Egypt, as it has in the past, brokers a ceasefire to stop the senseless destruction and loss of innocents’ lives on both sides, and to give negotiators an opportunity to get active.”

— Jon Snipper

Janice Gross Stein on the surprise attack on Israel and the best historical analogy to the crisis

Monday, Oct. 9, 2023

“At the moment both sides in this conflict refuse to listen, to dialogue and be present to the needs and suffering of everyone. Ideology once again stands in the way, blinding both sides to peace… It was encouraging to hear a young man say that although is grandmother was killed in yesterday’s fighting, he was open to dialogue so that peace could be found. Maybe the younger generation is the hope for the way forward.”

— A. Chezzi

Shocking pro-Hamas, anti-Israel rallies lay bare the limits of Canadian pluralism

Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023

“With Canada’s growing diversity, the natural tensions between freedom and acceptance of a values-based consensus will become more challenging. This is where the role of teaching in our schools becomes more seminal than ever.”

— Thomas d’Aquino

“Sean’s point was pluralism requires principles and limits. If we are not careful, we will be become dangerously fragmented as a society. Marches in support of anything that does not cross into hate speech (from a legal perspective) should be permitted. Although unsavory, ugly, or even despicable, it is not much of a cost. Counterprotests, counter speech, and social costs for participating should also be fair game and send an important counter signal. We need to see ourselves peacefully but unambiguously not accepting these abhorrent views. The social media monetization of outrage is making this a much bigger challenge.”

— Rob Tyrrell

“Your article strikes at the heart of the most challenging aspect of Freedom of Expression, as defined in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Canadian Gov’t DOES have the ability and duty to limit hate speech. You can’t just do or say anything and be permitted, nay protected, as if this is a ‘right’. It is not. What Canadians often forget is that although we are a melting-pot of cultures, there is a fundament that Canada is built upon; a culture and set of values, and becoming a Canadian means adopting those values while honouring and preserving the culture of one’s heritage.”

— Peter Byrne

“There is no equivalence between a recognition of the rights of the Palestinian people and the slaughter of innocent people by the nihilistic Hamas.”

— Steve J. Chipman

Pro-Hamas demonstrations may be despicable, but they are still legal—And that’s a good thing

Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023

“Obviously these demonstrators don’t qualify and if they aren’t Canadian citizens, they should not be allowed to become so. Would that a person with the writer’s kind of control and thoughtfulness were in charge of the Israeli response, now clearly eroding with its attacks on civilian centres and closing the Egyptian escape hatch, whatever high moral ground in the court of public opinion Israel had regained after so much has been lost. However, signs saying “Death to Jews” seem to me to qualify as hate speech and those carrying them should be prosecuted and if they are immigrants, deported if the law so permits. Our country should not become a duplicate of the battle grounds in the Middle East.”

— Jon Snipper

“The right to free speech is very important and dare not to be suppressed or canceled just because someone else doesn’t like what you are expressing.”

— Austin Brown

‘Israel is going to endure’: Bret Stephens on anti-Semitism and Israel’s war against Hamas

Thursday, Oct. 12, 2023

“This is a beautiful dialogue, and I agree whole heartedly. I have spent time in Israel as recently as February, with a group of Orthodox Jewish women. There is no question that we are family, sisters , regardless of political leaning. It never hurts to pray to something larger than ourselves.”

— Joan Tucker

“Israeli officials keep saying they know not all Gazans are pro Hamas but they are doing nothing to show that they mean what they say. This whole situation has been covered with generations of layering of misinformation and propaganda. Neither the present Israeli government, nor Hamas will find the solution. What is needed is a wholesale change on both sides.”

A. Chezzi

Why are normally outspoken universities suddenly hesitant to condemn violence against Israel?

Friday, Oct. 13, 2023

“Universities have a lot of diverse and demanding customers/students to keep happy. Commenting on a heinous event related to a complex, multi-party, eight-decade conflict could be considered “tricky”, especially if sympathies are predominantly with one of the two primary sides. HOWEVER, when it comes to wholesale, carefully planned, and inexcusable atrocity, it is the act alone that must be condemned in absolute terms, free of all context. This includes universities.”

Rob Tyrrell

“Whether universities commenting on such situations could do so from a position of neutrality is a matter of debate but given how nuanced this particular case is I believe no public comment is the wise choice. Classroom discussions—backed by comprehensive historical research from parties on both sides—would be valuable and perhaps a synopsis of these debates and their conclusions might be a useful addition to the discourse.”

Gordon Divitt