Charles Krauthammer’s Distorted View of US-Iran History

“No Moral Equivalence”, Again?

Arash Norouzi
The Mossadegh Project
| June 29, 2009                         
[Updated June 22, 2018]

Charles Krauthammer's Distorted View of USA and IRAN relations

Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) was a widely syndicated columnist, veteran television commentator, and leading neoconservative ideologue whose writings appeared in Time, The New Republic and The Weekly Standard. In 1987, his weekly column for The Washington Post earned him the Pulitzer Prize.

During an April 2003 panel at the American Enterprise Institute, Krauthammer was absolutely certain about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, arguing “Hans Blix had five months to find weapons. He found nothing. We’ve had five weeks. Come back to me in five months. If we haven’t found any, we will have a credibility problem. I don’t have any doubt that we will locate them.”

Credibility problems notwithstanding, Krauthammer never relented in his views on the U.S. approach to the Middle East. Immediately following President Barack Obama’s televised speech to the Muslim world in Cairo [June 4, 2009], Krauthammer attacked the President for being “exceedingly weak” on Iran as a panelist on FOX TV’s live Special Report with Bret Baier.

Next, Krauthammer slammed Barack Obama’s brief reference to the American role in the 1953 coup in Iran:

“But the real damage is philosophical. There was, once again, over and over again apologies and moral equivalence. At the beginning, he apologizes for colonialism and imperialism. The United States was never a colonial power or even the holder of the League of Nation mandate in the Arab or the Muslim world.

And then he goes into the moral equivalence. I’ll give you one example. He speaks about, with Iran, how, on the one hand, we had a hand in a coup in 1953, and on the other hand, they have been involved in some nasty stuff over the last 30 years.

So on the one hand is American involvement in an action by Eisenhower executing a Truman plan 55 years ago. On the other hand, you’ve got 30 years of ongoing terrorism against the United States and the world, the taking of hostages, the proxy killing of Americans in Iraq and elsewhere, the developing of nukes, and the threatening of allies with nuclear weapons. So these are to be balanced.

. . . . . It’s not exactly morally equivalent”.

Krauthammer elaborated on this in his June 12th column for the Washington Post, "Obama Hovers From on High". Peppered with Biblical quotes and accusations of Obama’s “messianic” posturing, Krauthammer wrote sarcastically:

He told Iran that, on the one hand, America once helped overthrow an Iranian government, while on the other hand “Iran has played a role in acts of hostage-taking and violence against U.S. troops and civilians.” (Played a role?!) We have both sinned; let us bury the past and begin anew.

Krauthammer later continues:

Charles Krauthammer's Distorted View of USA and IRAN relations That’s the problem with Obama’s transcultural evenhandedness. It gives the veneer of professorial sophistication to the most simple-minded observation: Of course there are rights and wrongs in all human affairs. Our species is a fallen one. But that doesn’t mean that these rights and wrongs are of equal weight.

A CIA rent-a-mob in a coup 56 years ago does not balance the hostage-takings, throat-slittings, terror bombings and wanton slaughters perpetrated for 30 years by a thug regime in Tehran (and its surrogates) that our own State Department calls the world’s “most active state sponsor of terrorism.”

Below is our response to Krauthammer’s statements, sent to the editor of The Washington Post:

Letter to the Editor

June 14, 2009
The Washington Post
Re: "Obama Hovers From on High", June 12, 2009

Charles Krauthammer’s June 12th column commits the same “sins” he accuses Obama of committing — “hovering from on high” and “distorting history for political effect”. Among his many “distortions” and God-like pronouncements, Krauthammer claims that the 1953 CIA coup that overthrew the peaceful, secular, democratically elected government of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh “does not balance” with the crimes of the “thug regime in Tehran”. In this statement he “distorts” and trivializes a colossally destructive act and fails to acknowledge the severity of this crime against the Iranian people.

Krauthammer knows that history is a continuum and if one looks at it without prejudice, one must recognize that the bloody 1953 coup shattered the hopes of a nation’s long struggle for independence and democracy. Mossadegh’s overthrow was followed by a quarter century of brutal dictatorship, supported by the misguided American foreign policy. It took a tumultuous revolution to get rid of the Shah, which resulted in the establishment of a theocratic government.

Operation AJAX was a crime against humanity and Krauthammer’s denial of the significance of the coup does not serve the interests of America or the cause of peace and reconciliation. Obviously, reconciliation is not the “political effect” for which Krauthammer is proselytizing.

Ebrahim Norouzi, MD
The Mossadegh Project


Related links:

Columnist George Will: 1953 Coup in Iran Was A “Success”

John Bolton Shamelessly Defends 1953 Coup, Bombing Iran

Self-refuting Ray Takeyh Calls CIA Coup in Iran a “Myth”

MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

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