US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told a BBC journalist that Iranian “leadership has to make a decision that they want their people to eat,” dropping all pretense of caring about Iranians as he touted the latest harsh sanctions.
The BBC Persian reporter, Hadi Nili, attempts to ask Pompeo what will happen if the sanctions do not have their desired effect, but Pompeo repeatedly dodges the question, repeating that it is in Iran’s “best interest” to curb its “destabilizing influence” and clinging to the soundbite that the country is the primary sponsor of world terrorism. Pompeo attempts to pin all regional ills on Iran and paints the Iranian government’s aims as wholly at odds with those of the people.
But what if the sanctions end up hurting the people, Nili starts to ask. “No, they’re not,” says Pompeo, interrupting him.
Except they totally are, he all but admits a few minutes later – but it’s OK, because it serves American goals:
The leadership has to make a decision that they want their people to eat.
And thus, Pompeo continues his predecessors’ callous legacy of starving people in unfriendly nations and bragging about it. In January, Rex Tillerson spoke about North Korea “ghost ships” washing ashore in Japan, most of their crews dead after desperately going fishing without enough fuel for the return trip. “We are getting a lot of evidence that these [sanctions] are really starting to hurt,” he told Condoleezza Rice, herself no slouch when it comes to disdaining the fate of civilians in war zones.
Because it isn’t just hunger – US diplomats have a history of contempt for human life when it gets in the way of their political goals.
Hillary Clinton, serving as Secretary of State under President Barack Obama, gleefully chortled after NATO-backed rebels toppled Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2012: “We came, we saw, he died.” Libya has since become a failed state where people are bought and sold in open slave markets, but this state of affairs is apparently preferable to an oil-rich nation dropping the petrodollar.
Madeleine Albright, who served as Secretary of State under President Bill Clinton, famously told a 60 Minutes journalist that killing half a million Iraqi children through punishing sanctions was, indeed, “worth it” to achieve US foreign policy goals.
Regarding Iran, Pompeo’s hollow-ringing references to “what the Iranian people want” conjure up last year’s protests, which groups believed to be US-backed attempted to coopt into an Arab-Spring-style color revolution by chanting anti-regime slogans as Iranians demonstrated for economic justice. Having had their country overthrown by the US once before, in 1953, the Iranians are unlikely to fall for it twice, but that has not stopped Pompeo and the US from trying.