Nader Hashemi, director of the University of Denver's Center for Middle East studies, is terribly upset that Iran is (again) threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz. But his anger stems not from the dangers of such an act: harm to the world's economy, destabilization of the region, and potential war with other Gulf states and the West.
What perturbs Hashemi, you see, is that it's all Donald Trump's fault. Had the president not abandoned the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA; i.e., the Iran deal) and reinstituted sanctions, it would be smooth sailing in the Persian Gulf.
Aljazeera reported this week that Hashemi "said US President Donald Trump's hardline approach is forcing Iran to make drastic counter threats."
Hashemi's memory is as short as his record of shilling for Islamism is long. A quick review shows that over the past decade alone Iran threatened to close the Strait in 2008, 2011, 2012 (twice), 2016 (twice), and again this week.
"'What we are seeing right now is a result of unilateral American sanctions,' he said."
"'The United States has pursued this hardline policy and the Iranian leadership is starting to panic' and is pushing back, Hashimi added."
Who might Hashemi blame for the earlier incidents, which except for the earliest occurred on President Obama's watch? What could have made Iran's leaders, who remain despotic despite promises from Western authorities that moderation lies just around the corner, threaten an act of war against civilian shipping?
Since the 1979 revolution that brought the mullahs to power, Iran has both threatened and prosecuted war and spread terrorism worldwide. Its support for Islamist and terrorist allies, including Hezbollah, Hamas, and its Syrian proxies, is hardly a secret. This week's threats are simply the latest of countless attempts to bully policymakers to support Iran's interests.
Hashemi's defense of JCPOA typifies the pro-Iran stance of many professors of Middle East studies and their faculty allies. As Campus Watch has demonstrated since the Obama administration inked the agreement in 2015, its backers include some of the harshest academic critics of America, Israel, and the West: Berkeley's Hatem Bazian, Michigan's Juan Cole, Columbia's Hamid Dabashi, Delaware's Muqtedar Khan, Riverside's Reza Aslan, and many others.
In lieu of informed advice to counter Iran's aggression and relieve the Iranian people of a bloody dictatorship, these academic appeasers leverage their university positions to shield Tehran from the consequences of its actions and attack domestic political opponents. Such moral and intellectual rot should make them personae non gratae in Washington, D.C., the Middle East, and anywhere else power is wielded.
Winfield Myers is director of academic affairs and director, Campus Watch, at the Middle East Forum.