The recent news out of Iran is stark. In the wake of the shooting down of a plane of innocents by Iran’s military, renewed protests have sprung up. Protests by those seeking freedom in Iran, of course, are met by vicious crackdowns on those Iranians that participate.
Prior to that, Iran attacked U.S. interests a dozen times in the past several months. For decades before those attacks, Iran’s dictators have used the threat of the United States and its culture as a foil to maintain total control over Iranians.
Sadly, Iran’s dictators use the United States to maintain that control.
It’s a law of history, as historian Will Durant taught us, that “internal liberty varies inversely as external danger.” In other words, a civilization that achieves security for its people generally permits the greatest amount of freedom. On the other hand, a country that is insecure often restricts the freedom of its people.
Dictators understand that law of history very well. Indeed, throughout all of history, those seeking power over people have used internal and external threats—real and often those imagined—to justify their actions of suppressing a people. Perhaps the most famous example of that abuse is Adolf Hitler.
During his rise to power, he insisted that Jews and capitalists within and without Germany were a threat to the German state. In order to counter that threat, Hitler took away the rights of all Germans in an ever-escalating manner to ensure their safety—or so he claimed.
Long before Hitler, during Rome’s failed experiment with socialism, in A.D. 301, the power-hungry Emperor Diocletian blamed capitalists among the Romans and others—along with the threat of barbarians at the gate—as to why he took away the rights of Romans and imposed additional socialist controls over the economy. Again, according to Durant, “the socialism of Diocletian was a war economy, made possible by fear of foreign attack.”
The Iranian dictators understand the above quite well.
The Iranian Revolution followed the fall of the U.S.-backed Shah of Iran. The first dictator that arose in the wake of the fall of the Shah was Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Slowly but surely, Khomeini was able to consolidate his power and reduced the government of Iran into a theocracy that severely restricted the rights of Iranians.
As he consolidated power and took away freedoms, Khomeini popularized the chant of “Death to America” and branded the United States as the “Great Satan.” He regularly decried what he termed as the corrupt culture of the West, and the United States specifically. He warned his people that Western influences would fatally undermine the greatness of the Iranian culture.
It wasn’t until later that the Iranian dictators would add to their use of the United States as a foil that the American presence in the Middle East was a threat. It was no coincidence that as Iran started to use that reason as they sought to take away the rights of others in the Middle East.
Today, Iran seeks to rule not only its own people, but the entire Middle East. The mullahs want their brand of Islam to be dominant, if not exclusive. In their minds, that requires political control over the various governments in the region.
They have had and continue to have forces, including Gen. Qassem Soleimani before he was killed, throughout the Middle East. For instance, the Iraqi government is dominated by Iranian influences that include Iranian-backed terror groups. Iran founded Hezbollah and continues to finance it to the severe detriment of Israel and peace in the Middle East. In Yemen, Iran uses its proxies to foment discord and military action against Saudi Arabia. The same can be said of Syria. Within the Middle East, that list can go on and on.
To achieve its goals, Iran wants to drive the United States out of the Middle East altogether. To get America out of the Middle East, Iran continues to poison the minds of those in the Middle East with false claims about the United States—often using the Western media to deliver those messages.
In short, Iran needs the United States as an enemy in order to suppress people.
Those in the West need to plainly understand the means the regime in Iran is using to justify its dictatorial ways when watching it and, more importantly, as policy is developed. In the final analysis, Iran’s leaders are both evil and smart—a truly dangerous combination in the nuclear age.
Thomas Del Beccaro is an acclaimed author, speaker, Fox News, Fox Business, and Epoch Times opinion writer and the former chairman of the California Republican Party. He is the author of the historical perspectives “The Divided Era” and “The New Conservative Paradigm.”
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.