Washington Post columnist and former George W. Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen is often wrong. He wrote a book enthusiastically defended the Bush administration’s torture regime that, as Jane Mayer diplomatically put it, was “better at conveying fear than at relaying the facts.” His criticisms of the Obama administration’s foreign policy are often flagrantly, laughably dishonest. And when he’s not telling easily debunked lies, Thiessen indulges in hysterical fearmongering – during the Ebola panic he warned of Islamic terrorists infecting themselves with the disease, flying to the U.S., and blowing themselves up (after licking your doorknob). For all this lying and overwrought panic, he’s rewarded with column space at one of the nation’s most influential newspapers.
This morning, Thiessen used that prized column space to defend the “open letter” Tom Cotton and the 46 other issued to the Iranian government advising them that any nuclear weapons deal Iran strikes with Obama won’t necessarily be honored by the next president. The letter was a transparent effort to derail the six-party talks with Iran, but Thiessen objected to critics who attacked the letter as a breach of protocol:
To hell with protocol. Iran is on the march across the Middle East. The regime in Tehran is turning Iraq (a country thousands of Americas died to liberate) into an Iranian proto-satellite state. It is propping up the murderous regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria that has killed some 200,000 people. It is using proxies such as Hamas, Hezbollah and the Houthis in Yemen to conduct jihad against the West. And President Obama is trying to turn Iran into a partner in peace — promising that if Iran cooperates with the United States, it could become “a very successful regional power.”
Iran already is “a very successful regional power.” And it believes it could become even more successful if it had a nuclear weapon.
And right here, in these two short paragraphs, we see once again why it’s so very problematic for media outlets like the Washington Post to hire Bush administration veterans to comment on foreign policy. Thiessen is livid at Obama over the fact that Iran’s influence over Middle Eastern affairs is growing, and he reduces the primary reason why – his former boss’ invasion of Iraq – to a mere parenthetical.
Any discussion of why “Iran is on the march” must begin with the fact that George W. Bush eliminated Iran’s major regional rival and then left a vacuum that Iran filled with money, violence, and political pressure. The Bush administration assumed that the two countries’ hostile shared history would hamper Iranian attempts to exert influence in a Saddam Hussein-free Iraq, but, as with just about everything else, they got it completely wrong. Almost immediately after Saddam’s government fell, Iran began arming and supporting the insurgency and backing Iran’s Shiite political leaders. Tehran has been “turning Iraq… into an Iranian proto-satellite state” for over a decade because Marc Thiessen’s boss gave them the opportunity.
Thiessen, of course, can’t acknowledge that. He’s wedded to the self-serving notion that the Iraq war was just and good and only turned into a real problem once Barack Obama came into office. So he treats the issue of Iran’s regional ambitions as somehow distinct from the war that set this whole process in motion. Treating the matter honestly would be tantamount to admitting that he lacks the credibility to attack the current administration’s foreign policy.
Anyway, it’s a pretty sweet racket Thiessen has going. He was on the team that pursued the failed policies that empowered Iran to begin with, and now that Iran is exerting its influence, Thiessen is attacking Obama for not doing enough to contain the threat the administration he worked for helped to create. Nice work if you can find it.