There is no particular reason to believe Iran has been chastened, but it might have been tempered, reminded that there are limits. For the first time in 40 years, since the hostages were taken in the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, the Iranian government took a hard jab from America right in the face. This appears to have left them surprised, rocked back on their heels.
It’s not terrible that that government be put on the back of its heels.
All this had me thinking about the poignant pictures that flood the internet whenever Iran is in crisis. They are of men and women on the streets of Tehran before the shah fell and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini came to power in 1979. They all look so modern, it’s all Western dress—men in sharp suits, women in bouffants driving cars. No one looks feudal or shrouded. They could have been in America. Iran has never figured out how to be both modern and moral—well, no one has—and chose a particularly reactionary and clenched form of nonmodernism. Iranians are a brilliant people from a dazzling culture saddled by the cultural stylings of medieval clerics.
The Russians have lost respect for America but maintain form and are businesslike. They’re also more fun than they once were. Their old defensiveness about America is gone because they don’t think we’re great anymore, which has relaxed them.
If the past few decades have taught us anything it’s that you should never accuse those who question a U.S. military action of lacking patriotism. Sometimes the greatest patriotism is to stand against the crowd to protect your country from ill-thought-out actions. That is one of the harder forms of patriotism. Nikki Haley, a former ambassador to the United Nations, charged Monday ”leading Democrats” were “mourning” the loss of Soleimani. No one mourned his loss, everyone knows he’s a bum, and that was cheap. They questioned the decision and the reasons behind it.
I am extremely gratified that Noonan called out Nikki Haley’s cheap shot, which dropped Haley’s stock about 50% in my estimation.