PARIS -- When Ben Affleck's "Argo" -- a film based on the true-life, CIA-assisted Canadian operation to rescue American diplomats during the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979 -- won the Oscar for Best Picture, all I could think about was how badly Iran blew a prime opportunity to keep quiet for once.
Iranian Culture Minister Mohammad Hosseini is so incensed with the portrayal of his country in "Argo" that the government is financing a film in response. Look, Canadians took issue with some "Argo" distortions, too -- mainly because, as former U.S. President Jimmy Carter has said, "90 percent of the contributions to the ideas and the consummation of the plan was Canadian," while the film portrays the inverse. But Canada isn't going to get all insecure about something that happened more than three decades ago. Granted, Canada also has a lot going for it -- including a world of "friends" with whom to trade.
By contrast, the Iranian regime considers its image to be so fragile that a single Hollywood film must be treated as a threat. Even Affleck is more secure in his manhood than Iran. The director has called Iran's criticism "a badge of honor."
Iran could learn from Affleck, who has bombed out in the past but has learned whatever lessons he needed. He simply moves on and tries not to repeat the same bad scripts. When Iran bombs out, it never, ever lets go of the script.
Iran's grasp of diplomatic relations hasn't improved much since the "Argo" era, regardless of what Iranians want us to believe. The best image that any country can project is through its day-to-day actions, its relationships, its friends.
Sadly, Iran doesn't have many friends. Well, it has Russia and China as besties -- but someone should ask Russian President Vladimir Putin how it feels to have your friend's checks start bouncing, as Iran's did when Russia was trying to help build the Bushehr nuclear power plant.
While trying so desperately to martyr itself as a victim of the meddling West, Iran is dropping ammo all over Africa. Great Britain's Conflict Armament Research recently issued a report detailing Iranian ammunition used by "foreign-backed insurgents, rebel forces, Islamist-oriented armed groups and warring communities." Speaking of which, Israel just bombed an Iranian general who was hanging out in a Syrian conflict zone -- no doubt handing out cupcakes and balloon animals to children.