With the Islamic Republic in the twelfth week of unrest, Matthew Continetti argues, the White House must formulate a different, and coherent, approach:
President Biden and his officials, to their credit, have said that they stand with the Iranian people against the oppressive regime. Biden has levied sanctions on Iranian government officials and organizations associated with the brutal crackdown on demonstrators. It’s a start. Otherwise, Biden has wasted time.
Iran is vulnerable. . . . The application of external pressure could cause it to collapse. If all goes well, military force won’t be necessary. But for all to go well the ayatollah, his army, and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps need to take the threat of force seriously enough that it scrambles their calculations and spooks them into concessions. Thus, the first step toward defeating the Islamic revolutionaries in charge of Iran is reviving America’s defenses and demonstrating America’s commitment to the security of the Persian Gulf.
The next step is repairing America’s alliances with Saudi Arabia and Israel. The Saudis must understand that America supports the anti-Iranian coalition. And America must recognize that criticism of Israel’s incoming government should take second place to more important priorities such as expanding the Abraham Accords to include Saudi Arabia and coordinating both covert and overt actions against the Iranian nuclear program.
Then comes the ideological offensive. President Biden can no longer afford to treat foreign policy as a distraction from his domestic goals. He needs to make the case, directly and frequently, not only for continued American assistance to Ukraine but also for supporting the domestic opposition to a pariah regime that endangers the world. And he needs to do it using the same rhetoric as Ukrainians and Iranians who resist subjugation because they desire freedom.