It seems that the “echo chamber” created by members of the Obama administration and the Iran lobby is still alive and kicking and trying desperately to keep support flowing to the Iranian regime in light of increasing calls to get tough on Iranian regime because of its continued support for terrorism, brutal human rights abuses and flagrant violations of international sanctions with ballistic missile launches.
The Iran lobby, especially the National Iranian American Council, has been especially busy making excuses every time Iran hangs a dissident, puts down a protest or sentences a dual national to prison.
Many of those “experts” sympathetic to the regime and preserving the nuclear deal at all costs continue to push false narratives like a used car salesman pushing a clunker with a rolled back odometer.
One example is a piece authored by Jeffrey A. Sinclair in Foreign Affairs in which he argues that President Trump needs to strengthen Iran’s “moderates.”
“The goal should be to guard against any further escalation of hostilities. After all, unless the administration is willing to wage war with Iran, this confrontation won’t achieve anything useful for the United States. What it will do is further strengthen the hardliners in Tehran, a process that is already underway, and undermine moderates such as President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif less than three months before Iran’s presidential election,” Sinclair writes.
Rarely has a paragraph been loaded with more inaccuracies than that one.
First of all, Trump has made it clear with his criticisms of the war in Iraq during the campaign that he is not in favor of nation-building by military force, but he has also made clear he was not going to offer a blank check to regimes such as Iran and Syria to do whatever they wanted since the end result of those kinds of actions has brought chaos to the Middle East.
Trump has laid out a belief that ignoring Iranian regimes’s militant actions does little to ensure regional stability and peace. Confronting the regime on issues such as human rights, proxy wars or provocative military acts are the right policy if Trump’s administration takes up that road, but saying that such a path only leads to war is one of the boldest falsehoods of the echo chamber.
Trump has at his disposal of plethora of tools, many used successfully by previous administrations, to force Iran to the bargaining table which is exactly what happened recently. The only problem was that the Obama administration fumbled the ball by caving in to every demand the Iranian mullahs had and getting little in return.
Contrary to Sinclair’s missives, confronting Iranian regime is exactly the right course of action since to do nothing except issue paper condemnations does nothing to rectify the situation. Using harsh language as Iran’s Quds Forces supply Houthi rebels in Yemen with arms so they can destabilize the country and risk a regional war between Saudi Arabia and Iran breaking out is not only bad foreign policy, it’s stupid.
Also, when Sinclair calls Rouhani and Zarif “moderates” the only polite thing to do is to keep from laughing hysterically out loud.
The only real moderates in Iran sit in Iranian prisons or have been driving out of the country as political refugees. As a religious theocracy, Iran’s mullahs maintain an iron grip on power. Rouhani did not become president to push a liberalizing agenda for reform. He was hand selected by Ali Khamenei to present the West with a more benign face in order to trigger negotiations to ease crippling sanctions.
The world is not going to see any competition during these upcoming presidential elections in Iran. Nothing is left to chance by the mullahs, which is why the vast majority of political dissidents, journalists, artists, filmmakers, students and anyone else stepping out of line has already been rounded up in advance of the elections.
“Because other U.S. and Western sanctions relating to Iran’s alleged terrorist activities remained in place, and because international banks remained highly skittish when it came to dealing with Iran, economic relief did not come quickly enough,” Sinclair said. “Overall, the administration made too few efforts to help Iran economically, as other terrorism-related sanctions were kept in place. The Obama team, it seemed, had taken its eye off the ball. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and others knew that Iranian moderates needed a post-deal economic boost to secure their position.”
This is another fallacious argument being made that the U.S. somehow was responsible for jumpstarting an Iranian economy that ranks almost dead last in the world in transparency and corruption. Also, since sanctions related to terrorism were not part of the nuclear deal, the U.S. and Trump are under no obligation to lift them, especially since Iranian regime regularly supports terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and Shiite militias responsible for wholesale slaughter of Sunni villages in Iraq.
Sinclair also criticizes discussions to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization and contends such a move would “escalate tensions.”
It’s hard to imagine how much worse tensions can get when Iranian regime’s navy detains American sailors, American citizens are being held in Iranian prisons and Iran’s proxies are causing the biggest refugee crisis since World War II.
Sinclair—and the rest of the Iran lobby—seems to place its collective hopes on the few wispy strands of less intensive anti-American actions than in the past as positive signs for change.
“For now, signs from Iran are somewhat positive. The yearly celebration of the founding of the Islamic Republic (expected to be a bonanza for the hardliners) turned out to be muted—excessively so, which was a clear sign of at least momentary moderation from the top leadership,” he writes. “In addition, a series of prominent hardliner clerics—including some of the leading clerics in Qom—have in recent days publicly expressed their support for keeping the nuclear deal in place.”
The claimed positive step is at a time that the Iranian regime test fired another Ballistic missile during this period and of course the mullahs are going to express support for the nuclear deal since its amounts to a giant ATM card the regime has been using to buy billions of dollars in new weapons from Russia.
These are not encouraging signs no matter what the echo chamber says and it’s about time we ignore it.