Weekly Standard founder and Iraq War booster Bill Kristol has emerged in recent days as a self-styled defender of the Iranian people as their country's anti-regime protests continue to intensify. But during a panel discussion on MSNBC Tuesday, National Iranian American Council president Trita Parsi questioned how much Kristol really cares about Iranians, given his long record of calling for military actions that would potentially leave many thousands (or even millions) of them dead.
Reacting to Kristol's call for the U.S. to "respect the Iranian people's desire for freedom," Parsi said: "With all due respect, Bill, you've been arguing to bomb Iran for so long that I don't know if you're really respecting the Iranian people. You've been advocating killing Iranians."
MSNBC host Stephanie Ruhle attempted to come to Kristol's defense, insisting that he is "not advocating to kill anyone, let's make that very clear."
"No, on the contrary, there has been all of this argument for taking military action against Iran instead of actually having the nuclear deal that has been working," Parsi responded.
A reminder of why Bill Kristol shouldn't be on MSNBC— Lis Power (@LisPower1) January 2, 2018
Kristol: Let's be more respectful of the Iranian people's desire for freedom
Trita Parsi: With all due respect Bill, you've been arguing to bomb Iran for so long, so I don't know if you're really respecting the Iranian people pic.twitter.com/fMHIfv8sr2
Stephen Miles, director of Win Without War, argued following the exchange that Kristol's history is enough to show that he "is no more qualified to speak about freedom in Iran than an arsonist is to promote fire safety."
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Kristol is just one of a number of American neoconservatives who have jumped at the opportunity to call for U.S. intervention in Iran in the midst of growing internal tensions.
"There's a lot of interest in terms of agitating for instability in Iran from people who are pretending to care about the Iranian people, but who actually couldn't care less about the Iranian people."
—Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept
Often portrayed as an effort to "help" the Iranian people—just as the Iraq War was framed as a fight for "democracy"—critics have argued that hawks like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton are simply looking to exploit Iran's domestic turmoil for their own war aims.
"Going back to 2005, 2006, the neocon slogan, after they toppled Saddam Hussein, was 'real men go to Tehran,'" noted The Intercept's Glenn Greenwald in an interview on Democracy Now! Tuesday. "They were really most eager to facilitate regime change in Iran."
As Common Dreams reported on Monday, President Donald Trump appeared to echo Republican warmongers in a tweet on Monday, writing emphatically, "TIME FOR CHANGE!"
Like Parsi, Greenwald interpreted this feigned concern for the freedom of Iranians as a cover for steps toward military action.
"There's a lot of interest in terms of agitating for instability in Iran from people who are pretending to care about the Iranian people, but who actually couldn't care less about the Iranian people," Greenwald concluded. "Lots of Western commentators who are posturing about being concerned about human rights in Iran are people in think tanks funded by other dictatorships and repressive tyrants in the same region. So I think we ought to be extremely skeptical when it comes to people like Donald Trump or people in Washington think tanks pretending that they're wanting to intervene in Iran out of concern for human rights or for the welfare of the Iranian people."