History Rhymes in the Middle East

Twain was reported to have said “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes.” He may not have said it, but it’s a useful metaphor.

For over thirty years we supported a dictator in the Middle East. He was our ally, and was important to our policies in the region. His military had a lot of US equipment, and benefited from American training.

A Republican president, trying to buy peace in the region, actually increased aid to the repressive regime. His Democratic successor made noises about human rights and democracy, which misled those who chafed under the rule of our ally into thinking that America would intervene on their side.

Like a pressure cooker with the safety valve tied down you had to know where to look to see the signs that it was more than just a small group of malcontents. Then the lid blew off. People who wanted freedom took to the streets. A banned Islamist group called the Muslim Brotherhood joined in. Many of the police and military started taking off their uniforms and joining the rebellion. A nation burned.

The year was 1979, the dictator was the Shah of Iran, and the president was Jimmy Carter.

Cross Posted from Beregond’s Bar.