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Which Country Do You Prefer? Putting Iran's "Evil" In Context

(To read the rest of our series, “The Case Against War with Iran”, please click here.)

According to Israel and America, Iran isn’t just opposed to America’s interests in the Middle East. Iran isn’t just a rival power in a regional battle for hegemony. It turns out Iran is actually...

Evil! (Please read “evil” as if you were imitating Dr. Evil.)

I mean, Israel’s President Shimon Peres called their leaders evil, Isreali Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the Syria-Hezbollah-Iran nexus evil, and Iran was an inaugural member of President Bush’s Axis of Evil. But probably most importantly, Tucker Carlson has called Iran itself straight-up evil.

So let’s go to the tape, how evil is Iran, the nation Mitt Romney calls our, “most severe security threat”? Since we can’t define evil in a vacuum, let’s compare Iran to another not-so-random nation in the Middle East.

Consider the following two countries, asking yourself, which is more "evil"?

Both country A and B surreptitiously supported insurgents in Iraq.

Both country A and B surreptitiously support insurgents in Afghanistan.

Both Country A and B have access to vast amounts of oil and natural gas.

Country A is an monarchy with no democratic elections.

Country B is an Islamic republic that cannot elect its Supreme Leader, but elects its President and legislature, though vote rigging definitely occurs.

Country A enforces sharia law on its streets.

Country B does not.

Wealthy millionaires financially support Al Qaeda in Country A.

In Country B, none do.

17 of the 20 hijackers on 9/11 were from Country A.

0 were from Country B.

The last two comparisons should give it away: Country A is Saudi Arabia, Country B is Iran.

Comparing the two countries, I can’t help but ask, what is so bad about Iran that Saudi Arabia doesn’t already do? Iran crushed elections in 2009, but Saudi Arabia doesn’t even have elections to crush. Iran had “Neda” a symbol of oppressed Iranians, but Saudi Arabia doesn’t even let women drive. Iran’s military supports Hezbollah financially, but Saudi Arabia birthed Al Qaeda and wealthy Saudis currently support terrorist organizations. Not to mention, Saudi support for authoritarian governments like Bahrain, Qatar and Yemen encourage regional insurgents that eventually spawn international terrorism.

Yet Saudi Arabia supplies America with oil. Because of that and its friendly relationship with the U.S., it gets a pass and America might go to war with Iran. Would America go to war with Saudi Arabia if it developed nuclear weapons?

Some realist foreign policy academics have suggested that in a true recalculation of America’s interests around the globe, that Iran, not Saudi Arabia, would be the smarter choice for an American ally. This is a vital point to inform the debate over Iran, America and nuclear weapons. And tomorrow it will inform my solution to the Iran problem.

three comments

Though it’s true that the US does purchase oil from Saudi Arabia, and a decent amount of it, it’s not as much as you might think. The US still produces a fair amount of its own oil (Alaska, off-shore, etc), and imports quite a bit from Canada and Mexico.

Mexican importas vary considerably, but in 2011, the US imported more oil from Mexico than from Saudi Arabia.

Great point. We actually have the outlines of a “Facts Behaving Badly: Oil Myths” that mentions this very thing. America (depending on the exact statistic) has about 50 of our domestic supply has a huge impact on prices.

Your point though has an ironic twist, if we don’t even important that much Saudi Oil, then why do we value them so much as an ally? Their citizens support al Qaeda and they are an authoritarian dictatorship with no value of human rights. Again, what does Saudi Arabia provide that Iran doesn’t?

Very amusing. Well done.