Save “Rocket Man” for when you’re singing along with Elton John, ‘kay??

The world is full of bad actors, despots for whom political power is not only the Alpha and the Omega but the only reason they’re still drawing breath. Take away that power and what you’ll have is a 21st-century version of Nicolae Ceaușescu– a tired, scared, deposed tyrant dispatched to the Great Beyond by depositing a bullet in the back of his skull. No not-so-very-benevolent dictator worthy of their tyranny wants that.

American governments have an unfortunate tendency toward the delusion that they can influence the actions of rogue states like Iran and North Korea. Truth is, they’re called “rogue” states for a very good reason- they don’t follow established diplomatic norms. Their raison d’ etre is their continued existence; if they lost that battle they’ll cease to exist. The belief they can be shamed into compliance with our interests through bluster and tweets is at best delusional…and at worst incomprehensibly ignorant.

Iran hasn’t given a tinker’s damn about what American wants since 1979…and why should they? Their history of American stewardship was the corrupt and venal Shah, Reza Pahlavi. Installed by a coup financed and facilitated by the CIA, the Shah ruled over a brutal and corrupt police state which disappeared Iranian citizens frequently, sometimes for little or no reason.

The average Iranian citizen’s view of America- how much of it is fueled by propaganda is an open question- is of a country which cares only for itself and has no problem selling out Iranians. It’s a corporatist state willing to use its economic and military power to purchase a form of government favorable to American interests.

Look at 20th- and 21st-century Iran through the eyes of its citizens and it’s not difficult to understand how and why the hate The Great Satan. America has manipulated Iran for its oil and has made no effort to account- much less apologize- for undermining Iranian sovereignty.

If you want to change and/or destabilize a tyrannical rogue regime, Twitter shouldn’t be your medium of choice. No, you’re going to need to work much harder and smarter…and you need to be willing to openly display a sincere and genuine concern for the people ground under the despot’s boot heel. Egregious personal insults are never going to be effective diplomatic tools, and smug arrogance will only guarantee failure at least as bad, if not worse, than your predecessor.

Here’s a pro tip: If you’re trying to effect regime change, it helps to understand the culture and history of said regime and the country it governs. Overthrowing a despot isn’t going to do anyone much good in a country with no history of democratic institutions and norms. It would be like handing someone a Telecaster and expecting them to shred like Eddie Van Halen.

Not gonna happen, knowhutimean? (And did you EVER think you’d read a discourse on American foreign policy that would find a way to credibly include a mention of Eddie Van Halen? You’re welcome.)

Oh…and lose the “mine is bigger than yours” schtick; it’s not going to play well in North Korea…or anywhere else.

By all means keeping tweeting…if your goal is to appear to be a doddering, supercilious fool drunk on your own insatiable narcissism.

Good luck with that regime change, eh?

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