Iranians Need American Support, Not American Silence

John Kerry, the former secretary of state, has recently echoed the new conventional wisdom that the U.S. government would do best to keep quiet about the demonstrations in Iran. This “wisdom,” writes Reuel Marc Gerecht, is dead wrong:

This reflexive belief that the United States is more apt to do wrong than right in Iran is today reinforced by a palpable anxiety on the American left that any serious support for the pro-democracy demonstrators could slide into new sanctions that could threaten Barack Obama’s nuclear deal. To put it another way, a (temporary) suspension of the clerical regime’s nuclear ambitions is [considered] more important than the possibility that democratic dissidents might win their struggle against Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his religious dictatorship.

Fear for the survival of the nuclear deal dovetails with an entirely mistaken idea about Iran that has driven much American and European policy since the 1990s: that the Islamic Republic can evolve from theocracy to a more traditional, nonthreatening authoritarian regime or even to democracy. This hope reinforces the view that Washington needs to keep its distance from dissidents or risk compromising their position in Iranian society. “Authentic,” politically viable Iranians are thus anti-American since they have to negotiate with and cajole the “hardliners” into accepting reform. . . . But . . . gradual change isn’t in the offing. The demonstrators in the streets of Iran today instinctively know this. . . .

These brave men and women deserve America’s rhetorical and material support. . . . The president’s tweets in support of the protesters were a good start. Washington should also let loose a tsunami of sanctions against the Revolutionary Guards, the linchpin of Iran’s dictatorship.

Read more at New York Times

More about: Barack Obama, Iran, John Kerry, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy


The Right and Wrong Ways for the U.S. to Support the Palestinians

Sept. 29 2023

On Wednesday, Elliott Abrams testified before Congress about the Taylor Force Act, passed in 2018 to withhold U.S. funds from the Palestinian Authority (PA) so long as it continues to reward terrorists and their families with cash. Abrams cites several factors explaining the sharp increase in Palestinian terrorism this year, among them Iran’s attempt to wage proxy war on Israel; another is the “Palestinian Authority’s continuing refusal to fight terrorism.” (Video is available at the link below.)

As long as the “pay for slay” system continues, the message to Palestinians is that terrorists should be honored and rewarded. And indeed year after year, the PA honors individuals who have committed acts of terror by naming plazas or schools after them or announcing what heroes they are or were.

There are clear alternatives to “pay to slay.” It would be reasonable for the PA to say that, whatever the crime committed, the criminal’s family and children should not suffer for it. The PA could have implemented a welfare-based system, a system of family allowances based on the number of children—as one example. It has steadfastly refused to do so, precisely because such a system would no longer honor and reward terrorists based on the seriousness of their crimes.

These efforts, like the act itself, are not at all meant to diminish assistance to the Palestinian people. Rather, they are efforts to direct aid to the Palestinian people rather than to convicted terrorists. . . . [T]he Taylor Force Act does not stop U.S. assistance to Palestinians, but keeps it out of hands in the PA that are channels for paying rewards for terror.

[S]hould the United States continue to aid the Palestinian security forces? My answer is yes, and I note that it is also the answer of Israel and Jordan. As I’ve noted, PA efforts against Hamas or other groups may be self-interested—fights among rivals, not principled fights against terrorism. Yet they can have the same effect of lessening the Iranian-backed terrorism committed by Palestinian groups that Iran supports.

Read more at Council on Foreign Relations

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror, U.S. Foreign policy