Strengthening Iran’s Moderates Is a Fool’s Errand

Jan. 28 2021

As the Biden administration considers how it can revive the 2015 agreement to restrain the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program, those who favor such a move will no doubt argue that Washington can use its position to bolster the “moderates” in Tehran while undermining the “hardliners” who oppose any sort of deal-making. With Iran planning a presidential election in June, the reasoning goes, a conciliatory American stance would help ensure the victory of a moderate. Such a strategy, however, is based on a fantastical view of the Iranian political system, as Jason M. Brodsky explains:

Would-be negotiators in Washington should recognize that whatever the goals of a Biden-led deal might be, empowering moderates is unlikely to succeed. The regime has already seen to it that they are sidelined in the most sensitive state organs.

The United States must understand the limitations of its power in trying to influence a system that is built on anti-Americanism. The ideological successors of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei are entrenched. Rushing to rejoin the [nuclear deal] before Iran’s next presidential election won’t change that dynamic, as it’s the supreme leader and not the president who has the final word on foreign-policy decision-making. The mythical moderates just don’t occupy the positions that matter.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at New York Daily News

More about: Ali Khamenei, Iran, Joseph Biden, 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.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at 19FortyFive

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