Monroe Doctrine Under Siege by Iranians

Remember when Ronald Reagan warned more than 20 years ago that Soviet- and Cuban-backed revolutionaries were just “two days’ driving time from Harlingen, Texas?” Well, the folks at Commentary, now under the editorship of John Podhoretz, are busy raising a similar specter, only it’s Iran this time.

Check out this week’s post by the incredibly prolific Gordon Chang entitled “Iran in Latin America,” in the magazine’s online blog, ‘Contentions,’ in which he recounts the various strategic inroads by Tehran among Washington’s Latin neighbors, particularly in the Andes and, most recently, Nicaragua, whose president, Reagan (and Elliott Abrams) nemesis Daniel Ortega, hosted the director of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), Ezzatollah Zarghami, just last Sunday! According to one of Chang’s sources, Bill Samii, currently with the Center for Naval Analyses, “Iran is trying to create a geopolitical balance with the United States,” presumably by forging ties with friendly states in what used to be called America’s “soft underbelly” or “backyard.” As additional evidence of Iranian penetration, Chang cites a recent feature article from Nicaragua’s Atlantic Coast that ran in the Hearst newspapers. Among other things, it suggests — with the help of a former senior FBI official — that Iran’s embassy in Managua could become a base for terrorist operations against the U.S. In fairness, the article also quoted Peter Rodman, Rumsfeld’s assistant secretary for international security affairs as pooh-poohing such a scenario.)
“There is nothing left to the Monroe Doctrine.,” lamented Chang, suggesting that the Bush administration is “abandon[ing] Latin America to Iran and that country’s terrorist allies…” To meet the threat, however, Chang was somewhat restrained in his policy advice, calling for the quick ratification of the various free-trade agreements with Latin American countries (currently Panama and Colombia) that are now languishing in Congress.
Not so, another ‘Contentions’ contributor, David Hazony, who suggested that stronger measures were necessary to deal with Iran’s inroads in the hemisphere in a follow-up post titled “Cold War II.” “Iran is replicating the Soviet Union’s efforts to build global power and confront the United States on multiple fronts,” he wrote.

“…[T]herefore the proper response by the West is, as with the cold war. to confront and rollback Iran at every turn. Nor is it reasonable to respond that Iran is much smaller and weaker than was the USSR, and therefore should not be taken so seriously; It is through these methods that Iran becomes stronger and more powerful over time. The proper response to determined, implacable enemies (no matter how unpopular this may sound during election season) is to defeat them, especially when they are relatively weak, rather than waiting for them to become intolerably menacing.”

None of this particularly new; Frank Gaffney has been warning about the Ahmadinejad-Chavez-Ortega axis in apocalyptic terms since before the Sandinista leader reclaimed the Nicaraguan presidency last year. But, nonetheless, the neo-conservative compulsion to see in the visit of an Iranian broadcasting executive to one of the hemisphere’s poorest nations (and made much poorer as a result of Abrams’ efforts 20 years ago) a harbinger of an existential threat on a par with the Soviet Union is truly a sight to behold.

Jim Lobe

Jim Lobe served for some 30 years as the Washington DC bureau chief for Inter Press Service and is best known for his coverage of U.S. foreign policy and the influence of the neoconservative movement.



  1. Let there be no mistake about this JOHN PODHORETZ and his friends are
    finding it harder and harder to make up stories that we can take seriously
    they belly ache absurdities to convince the rest of America to do the Israeli dirty work. But like a pair of worn out smelly sneakers they are rejected time and again mostly because they build their plans on faulty foundations.
    It is far easier to deal with an enemy after he has actually done something to
    us/against us. look at Iraq the proof is there.
    now look at Afghanistan we are alone in Iraq because Iraq did nothing to nobody.
    The Idea of attacking Iran to make sure Israel is the supreme power of the middle east is not going to happen anytime soon.If anything the belly aching of the American Zionists will bring condemnation of Israel and them if they choose to continue to belly ache . So the best they can achieve from here on out is to shut the hell up and go away. The Zionist cards are on the table they are holding a pair of deuces better to fold and wait for a better hand. like the song says you have to know when to hold em and when to fold em.

  2. With the present day influence that prominent neoconservatives have in government and in media, what will it take to stop them? What will be an effective opposition to the neoconservative movement?

  3. “Frank Gaffney has been warning about the Ahmadinejad-Chavez-Ortega axis…”

    I’d worry about Ahmadinejad and Chavez. They have already publicly pledged to work together to bring down the U.S.

    Only, I’d include China and Russia – or let’s just say the SCO – in the axis, too.

    Chavez is a declared communist. China is ruled by a communist government. Putin is waiting for the day in the near future when he can reveal his never-forsaken communist colors.

    I’d say the U.S. has something to worry about.

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