Why Are Western Liberals Defending Iran’s Regime?

Western liberals downplay Iran’s malicious influence in wake of Soleimani killing as part of senseless anti-American crusade.

Iran rally
Iran rally (Photo: Hosein Charbaghi/Unsplash)

Social media discussions about the killing of Qasem Soleimani feature an odd spectacle: Liberal, left-wing Westerners defending or downplaying the actions of Iran’s ultra-conservative regime. Such sentiments raise some troubling questions about the essence of the liberal worldview.

The response from the left largely falls into one of two categories. One group claims that there is no “evidence” that Soleimani ever engaged in wrongdoing or terrorism. The second group briefly concedes that he was not a “good guy,” only to lash out at the United States for being much worse.

Some members of the first group are generally aware of Soleimani’s history but argue that his actions are part of a standard foreign and defense policy. Hence, they tend to use neutral, almost clinical language to describe his track record.

Such reactions stress that Soleimani was a “senior official” rather than a non-state actor, as if this grants his sordid work an aura of legitimacy. They further emphasize that he was merely “advancing Iran’s interests” just as any other patriotic civil servant would do.

Yet these types of comments are both disingenuous and shameful. They are particularly hypocritical coming from supposed human rights proponents claiming to care about the plight of Arabs and Muslims in the Middle East.

Iran Enemy of Liberalism

To state the obvious, Soleimani was a key member of an autocratic religious regime that just recently crushed popular protests by killing, wounding and torturing thousands. Moreover, Iran is a notorious oppressor of women and an avid executioner of gays. How could any liberal justify a man whose mission was to advance such illiberal regime and ensure its survival?

Yet beyond the regime’s horrendous acts at home, it is also dedicated to spreading mayhem and death abroad. Indeed, Iran is unique in the Middle East in its desire to expand its influence and control to large swaths of the region by aggressive military means.

Soleimani’s key task was to destabilize and destroy any semblance of normalcy elsewhere. He particularly preyed on weak nations struggling with domestic troubles like Syria, Iraq and Yemen. His modus operandi was to train and arm terror groups and militias that advanced Iran’s interests by spilling blood across the region and turning the lives of millions into hell.

In other words, Iran and Soleimani represent everything that Western liberals loathe at home. Leftists would never defend religious, conservative fundamentalists in their own countries espousing imperial aims and ultra-militaristic policies. Somehow, such unsavory characters are treated with much greater leniency elsewhere.

How could this be? The second type of reactions make this clear. They argue that Soleimani was indeed unsavory, but that his efforts pale in comparison to US deeds. Such critics tend to quickly gloss over Iranian actions while focusing their attention and wrath on condemning what they see as a uniquely evil America.  

Endless Anti-US Tirades

The most notable aspect of the anti-US rationale is how reflexive and readily acceptable it is. Such comments hardly provoke any debate or make any note of positive US actions in the past century. While America is by no means perfect, it has made huge contributions to mankind.

The US defeated some of history’s most murderous regimes, including Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Moreover, America lifted post-war Europe out of utter devastation and helped turn it into a wealthy, peaceful region by offering huge economic and military support. The US also laid the foundation for unprecedented prosperity in Asia.

America bankrolled a variety of noble causes worldwide and continues to do so today. It often promoted freedom and hope abroad, while opening its gates to millions of immigrants at home. It has also welcomed many foreign students, including some from hostile countries, into its world-class universities.

Yet there is hardly a mention of this in any of the endless anti-US tirades. Predictably, there is also no reflection on the absence of any noble aims in Iran’s belligerent agenda. All that remains are thoughtless cliches, burning hostility toward America, and little actual interest in Soleimani or Iran.

Overall, this outlook suggests that the hierarchy of good and evil in some leftist circles has been distorted beyond repair. Ironically, such leftists use the prosperity, technology and freedom provided by the West to constantly criticize it. In parallel, they tend to ignore, defend or support the enemies of the Free World.

Ultimately, liberal reaction to the killing of Soleimani is an especially blatant reflection of the state of the modern left. Far from being a staunch defender of liberalism, it often finds itself on the side of the enemies of freedom.