Sparked by exploding food prices, high unemployment, and rising dissatisfaction with Iran’s corrupt plutocracy and the mounting incompetence of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Seyed Ali Khamenei, the most significant protests in eight years are rocking Iran. While the prior Administration cowered before Iranian Mullahs, deliberately ignored anti-regime protests in 2009, and derailed Project Cassandra designed to block Hezbollah, Iran’s proxy terror organization from selling drugs in the United States, President Trump has courageously reversed the Obama doctrine on Iran.
Rather than appease this appalling regime, President Trump has taken a hardline approach in support of freedom, a move that may accelerate regime change, and, one that undermines the world’s leading state sponsor of terror and its terror allies. Regime change will require the implementation of an Iranian constitution that respects human rights, freedom of the press, and the freedom of movement of peoples rather than a focus on exporting terror.
To be sure President Trump’s support for human freedom has sparked condemnation and commentary from the former Administration’s policy advisers. Indeed, it appears that the President’s critics are prepared to strengthen rather than weaken the Mullahs’ grip on power.
First, former national security adviser, Susan Rice, who recently told the President to be quiet on the world’s stage. She offered her advice despite the former Administration’s efforts to downplay the Iranian regime’s response to the 2009 demonstrations, a spineless move that left dissenters dead in the streets without serious repercussions. She also ignored the Obama Administration’s abject failure to do anything once Bashar Al-Assad crossed former President Obama’s so-called “Red Line.”
Second, ignoring her own troubled history, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton audaciously tweeted her support for the protesters and called upon the Iranian regime to respond peacefully to their demands.
Three things are missing in Ms. Clinton’s attack on President Trump’s policy goals.
First, the absence of humility regarding the former Administration’s participation in propping up this rogue regime as well as the one in Syria. Second, these comments represent a failure to understand that by putting America first, President Trump actually advances the interest of the beleaguered people in Iran, the cause of peace, and the rule of law. Regime change has the added advantage of possibly weakening Russian influence in the region and weakening North Korea’s power and influence by likely ending Iranian collaboration with both these devilish states. Third, these statements by former Obama Administration officials indicate that they fail to understand that regime change rather than simply the regime’s response to the legitimate protests is what is desperately needed.
While small scattered protests focused on economic grievances have been percolating in multiple Iranian cities since September, the demonstrators have rightly turned their attention to regime change as many protestors are openly calling for the Supreme Leader to go, chanting “Death to the Revolutionary Guards” as well as “We will die, but we will take Iran back.”
Risking life and limb, the protests have escalated with state media reporting Tuesday that the death toll from clashes between demonstrators and security forces had reached at least 20.
Offering his first comments during the six days of unrest, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday accused the “enemies of Iran” of meddling in the country’s affairs. At the same time, it appears that hundreds of people have been arrested, while many activists are taking the rare step of publicly criticizing the country’s religious dictators as part of the largest protests since the country’s disputed 2009 presidential election – which triggered the “Green Movement.” Of course, he ignored his role in deceiving the Iranian people by claiming that the Iranian Nuclear Deal would provide economic benefits that have yet to materialize. Instead, the unemployment rate hovers near 30 percent with youth unemployment approaching 40 percent.
Against this backdrop, this question presents itself and demands an answer: what should the United States do? The answer is readily apparent: we should help the Iranian free themselves from the tyranny of theocratic rule by the Mullahs, rather than stand idly by and try to appease the world’s leading state sponsor and exporter of terror.
First, we call for a bipartisan effort to support the Iranian people. It is time for a bipartisan consensus to join with the President, who has weighed in to strongly support the Iranian people. This consensus should ignore the so-called elite opinions of former Administration officials who sold out American and Israeli interests in favor of a flawed Iran Nuclear deal. As Bloomberg’s Eli Lake argues, it is “Time to end the expert class nonsense that there are hardliners and moderates in Iran. Javad Zarif and Ayatollah Khamenei are on the same side, the side of clerical tyranny.”
This means that the American people should refrain from relying on elite opinions like those offered by Fareed Zakaria, who wrongly claimed that the Iranian regime can be characterized by “considerable debate and dissent.” Although Mr. Zakaria is free to see what he wants to see, he is not entitled to his own facts. Indeed, the blood on the streets of Iran deny such claims.
Second, consistent with the mounting evidence of Iran’s failure to comply with the Iran Nuclear Deal, the current Administration should once more decertify the Iran Nuclear Deal on January 11, 2018, which is the next 90 day deadline specified under statute. In addition, on January 12, 2018 and January 17, 2018 the temporary waivers of US. Sanctions on Iran are up for renewal. Renewal should not be granted. Moreover, to the extent that a bipartisan consensus emerges in support of the Iranian people, new targeted sanctions, on Iranian leaders rather than the Iranian people, ought to be imposed. This process, taken together, would amount to a canceling of the Iran Nuclear Deal and the placement of additional economic and financial pressure on the Mullahs and their allies.
Third, consistent with President Trump’s speech before the United Nations, in September of this year, Americans should not expect diverse countries to share the same cultures, traditions or systems of government. Instead we should expect all nations to uphold two sovereign duties: to respect and cherish the interests of their own people and the rights of every other sovereign nation. This means that the Persian people, after regime change, should be free to create their own form of government, perhaps one that incorporates the best aspirations of Persia’s 1906 Constitution, grounded in the consent of the governed and equality before the law.
At the same time, a new Persian government must respect the rights of every sovereign nation to choose its form of government, rather than attempt, to impose its view of the world on others. While the current regime has sought to advance its Islamic Revolution through terror and lawfare, and has tried to impose Sharia—an authoritarian political and theological idea—on the world, a Persian government worthy of the world’s respect must refrain from imposing its values on the rest of us. A renewed focus on the legitimate interests of Persian people rather than a focus on the interests of theocrats, may blaze a new pathway for peace and prosperity in the Middle East.
Fourth, consistent with the third principle, a new Persian government must immediately and unconditionally remove its troops and terrorist proxies from Syria, Lebanon and other theaters in the Middle East, immediately cease support of Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations, and stop collaborating with the rogue regime in North Korea. Since Iran reportedly has more than 523,000 personnel on active service, comprising 350,000 in the army, including 220,000 conscripts, and since the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, viewed as the most loyal guardians of the ruling system, has a further 150,000 soldiers, the removal of its troops, and the elimination of support for terror and collaboration with North Korea, would free up Iranian financial resources to be deployed to advance the interests of average working-class Persians rather than the hegemonic interests of corrupt Mullahs who reportedly live in luxury.
Fifth, consistent with the notion of universal human rights, the new Persian regime must respect the rights of its people to be free from terror imposed by members of government. This includes, or should include, freedom of speech, the free movement of people, freedom of religion, and the right to trial before their peers rather than the Mullahs and an open and free press.
Advancing these goals furthers principled peace efforts in an increasingly troubled world. To the extent that the United States rejects the elite opinions of former Obama Administration officials and builds upon these principles the world over, it prepares the way forward for the Trump Administration to advance its sovereign duty to put America’s interests first and the rights of every other sovereign nation to do the same.
It is time for change.
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