As Protests in Iran Spread, Americans Continue to Misunderstand the Country

June 27 2018

In the past several days, protests in Iran have grown in size and intensity, with crowds now chanting “Death to Palestine!” (an alternative to the usual “Death to Israel!”) and even “Death to the Dictator!” (in reference to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei). Meanwhile, writes Amir Taheri, there remain many Americans in positions of influence who refuse to believe the Islamic Republic is a brutal dictatorship and thereby perpetuate false alternatives for dealing with it:

The pro-Khomeinist chorus builds its case on [the] notion [that] in dealing with the Islamic Republic, the choice is only between surrendering to its every whim or total military invasion. In her latest book, Fascism: A Warning, the former U.S. secretary of state Madeleine Albright reduces policy on Iran to a simple question: “Do we want to repeat the adventure in Iraq?” . . . Ben Rhodes, a former national-security assistant to President Barack Obama, [sees] Iran . . . as a model for the Middle East. . . .

Successive American presidents have worked hard to persuade the Khomeinist regime in Tehran to modify aspects of its foreign policy, so far with no success. The reason may be the inability or unwillingness of successive U.S. presidents, and a good part of the American political and cultural elite, to . . . understand the nature of the Khomeinist regime.

Jimmy Carter believed the Khomeinist seizure of power represented the return of religion to the center of public life. Members of his administration described Khomeini as “a holy man” and “the Gandhi of Islam.” . . . President Bill Clinton saw the Khomeinist regime as “progressivist,” a view shared by many American liberals who think anti-Americanism is the surest sign of progressive beliefs. . . .

This regime has executed tens of thousands of Iranians, driven almost six million into exile, and deprived the nation of its basic freedoms. It has also killed more Americans, often through surrogates, than al-Qaeda did on 9/11. Not a single day has passed without this regime holding some Americans, and others, hostages. . . .

The same lobbyists [in the West who portray the ayatollahs as benign] discourage any attempt by the major powers to adopt a policy aimed at helping, persuading, and cajoling Iran into restoring its identity as a nation-state and behaving like one by closing the chapter of a revolution that has plunged Iran and a good chunk of the Middle East into conflict and uncertainty.

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Read more at Asharq Al-Awsat

More about: Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Iran, Jimmy Carter, Madeleine Albright, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy

Will Tensions Rise between the U.S. and Israel?

Unlike his past many predecessors, President Joe Biden does not have a plan for solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, his administration has indicated its skepticism about renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. John Bolton nevertheless believes that there could be a collision between the new Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government and the Biden White House:

In possibly his last term, Netanyahu’s top national-security priority will be ending, not simply managing, Iran’s threat. This is infinitely distant from Biden’s Iran policy, which venerates Barrack Obama’s inaugural address: “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Tehran’s fist is today otherwise occupied, pummeling its own people. Still, it will continue menacing Israel and America unless and until the internal resistance finds ways to fracture the senior levels of Iran’s regular military and the Revolutionary Guards. Netanyahu undoubtedly sees Iran’s growing domestic turmoil as an opportunity for regime change, which Israel and others can facilitate. Simultaneously, Jerusalem can be preparing its military and intelligence services to attack Tehran’s nuclear program, something the White House simply refuses to contemplate seriously. Biden’s obsession with reviving the disastrous 2015 nuclear deal utterly blinds the White House to the potential for a more significant victory.

To make matters worse, Biden has just created a Washington-based position at the State Department, a “special representative for Palestinian affairs,” that has already drawn criticism in Israel both for the new position itself and for the person named to fill it. Advocated as one more step toward “upgrading” U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, the new position looks nearly certain to become the locus not of advancing American interests regarding the failed Authority, but of advancing the Authority’s interests within the Biden administration.

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Read more at 19FortyFive

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Joe Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship