In a post entitled “Iran and Leftist Confusion” on the blog DownWithTyranny, journalist Reese Erlich writes that some authors have cited him “as a source to prove U.S. meddling” in the Iranian presidential election. In his response, he includes my article “Has the U.S. Played a Role in Fomenting Unrest During Iran’s Election?”
I don’t know about the other examples he cites, but Erlich is wrong to include me in those who “cite the long history of U.S. interference in Iran and conclude that the current unrest there must be sponsored or manipulated by the Empire”.
Nowhere in my article did I “conclude” this. I merely theorized the possibility and documented a pattern of behavior that suggests this possibility shouldn’t be dismissed. The headline of my article was notably a question, not a statement of fact, and my own piece merely gave background and established an MO.
He says, “But past practice is no proof that it’s happening in this particular case.” I completely agree. Others may have argued that, but I certainly didn’t in my article. Where I cited Erlich, it was merely to establish U.S. support for the MEK and PJAK. That’s it. I can’t possibly imagine how he could have an issue with that.
Also, when naming Foreign Policy Journal he only says I “question” the view that “The large majority of American people, particularly leftists and progressives, are sympathetic to demonstrators in Iran, oppose Iranian government repression and also oppose any U.S. military or political interference in that country.” Huh? I “question that view”? How did Elrich get that out of anything I wrote. I don’t have the slightest clue where that statement is coming from. He must have gotten me confused with someone else.
He also seems to include me in saying “None of these leftists critics…” Huh? The only one making assumptions here is Erlich. Who’s a leftist? Certainly not I.
For criticizing others for making assumptions, he sure makes a lot of them himself.
He moves on to his second point: “Assertion: The U.S. has a long history of meddling in Iran, so it must be behind the current unrest.”
Then he begins his counterargument by citing me. Nowhere in my article did I employ such logic. This is a strawman fallacy. It’s interesting he cites me as employing this logic, because in my quote, I clearly say that given the U.S. record it “certainly seems possible, even likely”. The point of the article was that we shouldn’t dismiss that possibility. That’s a long way from saying the U.S. “must be behind the current unrest”. Nowhere in my article did I say such a thing.
He says, “Hammond cites my book The Iran Agenda and my interview on Democracy Now to show that the Bush Administration was training and funding ethnic minorities in an effort to overthrow the Iranian government in 2007.”
That’s almost correct. I did cite that interview. Because in that interview, he says the Bush administration was training and funding ethnic minorities. And I cited him to establish that, and nothing more. He didn’t say the point was to “overthrow the Iranian government”, and I didn’t say he said that.
He writes, “Neither the above two authors, nor anyone else of whom I am aware, offers one shred of evidence that the Obama Administration has engineered, or even significantly influenced, the current demonstrations.”
This makes me wonder whether he actually read my article before replying in writing to it. Because he obviously missed in my conclusion where I state, “There is no evidence, many have pointed out, of U.S. meddling in the Iranian election.”
His whole argument, insofar as it involves me, is based on asserting not just that I said otherwise, but that I said otherwise conclusively, that I said the U.S. “must be behind the current unrest.” This as false. Erlich should take the time to actually read articles before trying to respond to them.