Charles Pierce hits the nail on the head again!
The American history with Iran is a microcosm of everything we’ve done wrong in that part of the world since the end of World War II. Basically, we’ve treated Iran like a chess piece and not like a nation made up of living, breathing human beings. (That last bit is summed up by a remark attributed to Henry Kissinger during the sanguinary heights of the Iran-Iraq War, to the effect that he hoped both sides would lose.) We shined on the secular Iranians who begged us to stop our support of the shah. Hell, we shined on the people who warned us there would be consequences if we allowed the shah to come here for medical treatment after he was overthrown (Kissinger’s idea again. He loved the shah.), and that led directly to the seizure of the embassy. The ascension of the United States as a successor to those European imperial powers in the wake of two world wars is nowhere more clearly drawn than it is in the postwar relationship between this country and Iran.
When the United States embarked on the calamitous invasion of Iraq—which, where it wasn’t based on lies, was based on the same kind of magical thinking that always marked American involvement in the region—Iran’s influence in the region as a large, well-armed country to balance out the large, well-armed country that had just come to town was magnified. The U.S. quickly got entangled in campaigns against successive militia groups, most of them supported by Iran, and many of them ultimately directed by Soleimani. In fact, some of Soleimani’s soldiers fought against ISIS alongside U.S. and Iraqi troops. There is nothing about the relationship between these two countries that is not, well, Byzantine.
It seems impossible for the United States and Iran to disentangle themselves. We couldn’t even do it when Saddam Hussein became Our Newest Hitler in the 1990s, and this after we had supported him in his own war against Iran. But Iran was always looming in the background; the neocon fantasist who dreamed up the Iraq War famously cracked that “real men want to go to Tehran.” Whatever we may be hearing now about a “cycle of escalation” dating back to the American withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal last May, the real cycle has been going on for years.
We have a remarkable capacity for cutting loose from our own history. Those parts of it that we don’t simply ignore, we simply hand-wave into the past. Nothing ever connects to anything. Nothing ever leads to anything else. Because our intentions are always clean, and our motives always pure, nothing bad in the future can come of what we do today. How in hell could the CIA not see the Islamic Revolution coming in 1979, knowing what it had done decades earlier? Because the CIA was made up of Americans, who don’t believe that history plays the longest game of all.