Friday, July 12, 2019

Regime Change In Iran?

Fair enough, the Trump administration is not calling for regime change in Iran. But still, its policy of maximum pressure seems largely designed to do just that.  Official policy favors negotiation, thus, a renegotiation of the nuclear deal, but most people feel that the mullahs will never give in.

As for policy-making by an administration that has been having some difficulty staying on message, not calling for regime change makes some sense. It was predicting the overthrow of the Maduro regime in Venezuela and … how is that working out. We would not call it a great success… up to now. 

Anyway, the Iranian regime is becoming increasingly desperate. For instance, as Roger Simon writes:

Despite warnings from practically everyone, five Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps gunboats tried to seize a British oil tanker in the Persian Gulf Wednesday. They apparently backed off only when they realized the Brits were serious about defending themselves and had no interest in being held hostage, a standard Iranian tactic. Good for them.

Holding hostages… might Simon be referring to the time when the IRGC humiliated America by holding sailors hostage in the Persian Gulf. You remember, it happened right after we approved the JCPOA. We recall that the ever submissive John Kerry thanked the Iranians for not harming our hostages. Humiliating them and the nation did not count as harm in his eyes.

As of today, the Democratic Party line is that everything was going swimmingly with Iran until the big bad Trump administration pulled out of the nuclear deal. Simon replies with some evidence:

That deal was always an extreme head-scratcher, that the agreement prevents entry to Iranian military installations by nuclear inspectors was only the tip of an absurd iceberg. And when the Mossad lifted a ton (!) of nuclear documents from a Tehran warehouse showing that Iran had lied about practically everything, the whole thing seemed ridiculous, even though that should have been obvious from the outset.

While international bodies affirm that Iran has been complying with the terms of the deal, the inspection regimen is riddled with loopholes. Who do you trust, the mullahs or the Mossad? 

As for the explicit Trump policy, the president wants to negotiate with Iran, just as he has been negotiating with North Korea and China. Obviously, you cannot compare Iran to North Korea… because the latter is basically controlled by Beijing. As for the trade deals being negotiated with China… how is that going?

Again, in these cases, outcome matters more than intermediary steps. We certainly hope that these situations can be solved through negotiation. Trump gets credit for engaging these nations diplomatically, but I suspect that he did not think it would be as difficult as it is.

Simon explains that the Iranians are zealots and fanatics. They believe that history and religious prophecy is on their side. One doubts that they will ever surrender to pressure:

By contrast, the Iranians have an ideology (Khomeinist Islam) that aims to take over the world for their version of Allah and automatically makes them imperialists of the most extreme sort. Who knows how many of their leaders truly believe all the Twelfth Imam, end days mumbo-jumbo, but enough to make it the guiding light of a deranged culture. It's worth paying attention when they shout "Death to America! Death to Israel!" as they have since most of their populace was alive. And it's worth remembering what Elie Wiesel said when asked what was the most important thing he learned from the Holocaust (paraphrasing): "If someone says he wants to kill you, believe him."

Obviously, the Obama administration believed that Iran would never give in on any negotiating points, so it chose to submit to Iran’s terms. John Kerry was probably too impressed by Iranian intransigence, so he did what he always did, he submitted.

On the other hand, the Obama administration went crawling under the carpet when Iranians took to the streets to protest in 2009:

One of the saddest moments in American history occurred just a few years ago when the demonstrators in the streets of Iran were shouting "Obama, Obama, are you with us or are you them?" and were met with silence from the American president. We learned later that even before he took office Obama was signaling to the mullahs and Ahmadinejad that he wanted to make a deal with them. We know where that led — billions of dollars, some millions in cold cash, being turned over to the mullahs to kill as many people as possible and fund their own Revolutionary Guard, Assad's thugs, Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Houthis, not to mention, as Spyer indicates, a host of other bloodthirsty Islamic gangs with new names every week. Good job, Barack.

Would Obama having given full-throated verbal support to the demonstrators instead have helped? It's hard to say but it might have. Ignoring them undoubtedly made them feel isolated. Would it do good now for Trump to jump on the regime change wagon? It's also difficult to say as well, but what we have been doing is useless. It's worth a shot, anyway.

In principle, it would have cost very little to support the protesters. It would at least have signaled strength. And signalling strength helps when negotiating. Showing oneself to be weak suggests a willing to cave… which tells your negotiating partner not to compromise.

And surely, the Obama administration should be denounced for financing anti-American and anti-Israeli and anti-Saudi terrorism. What did they think that the Iranians would do with all that cash. Few people ever will, but still….

Simon is obviously not advocating war with Iran. And yet, he is correct to say that there are other ways to influence the situation, without going to war.

He explains:

And before people start screaming "NEOCON!" and shooting darts in my direction, I am not at all advocating war — "going kinetic" in the parlance — with the Islamic Republic. I'm talking about giving moral support to the Iranian people against a regime of greedy, fascistic religious fanatics that is oppressing them. This can be done in a whole variety of ways, starting with making them know we care about them and have no interest in talking to or negotiating with their oppressors who just want to play for time.

It’s a thought. 

1 comment:

Sam L. said...

"Simon explains that the Iranians are zealots and fanatics." The Donald has dealt with Democrats before.