Yesterday, Hillary Clinton went as far as any American diplomat has in recent history to encourage political upheaval or even revolution in Iran. “We see that the government of Iran, the supreme leader, the president, the Parliament is being supplanted and that Iran is moving toward a military dictatorship,” she told students at a university in Qatar, seemingly encouraging young people and Iran’s political and religious factions to stand up to the Revolutionary Guards. Prince Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister who was with Clinton at the time, went so far as to say that new sanctions planned by the United States may not come swiftly enough to stop upheaval in the region sparked by Iran’s nuclear progress.
Iran responded this morning, lashing back at Clinton using the rhetoric it always reserves for the United States and the West, which politicians refer to as “the global arrogance.” “We are regretful that the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tries to conceal facts about the stance of the U.S. administration through fake words,” Iranian foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki said, referring to what he called America’s “military dictatorship” in the region. He accused the United States of interfering with nations in the Middle East by undermining their “scientific and technological achievements.” (Code for, apparently, Iran’s nuclear program, which its leadership maintains is only for peaceful energy purposes.) “Those who have been the very symbol of military dictatorships over the past decades, since the Vietnam war until now, see everyone else in the same way,” Mottaki added.
This sharpening of rhetoric on both sides is part of efforts to convince countries — particularly China and Russia — to take sides, either backing or opposing new sanctions suggested by the United States. It’s serious stuff, enough to make us wish it was more like the last time Clinton used her words on an enemy state, when she compared North Korea to “small children and teenagers” after a (non-nuclear) missile test, and the Asian nation’s leadership snapped back: “Sometimes [Hillary Clinton] looks like a primary schoolgirl and sometimes a pensioner going shopping.” That’s how political trash-talking is really done, people.