Steve's Blog

A Chance for Iran

Iran has been a thorn in the side of the United States since 1979. That’s the year the Ayatollah Khomeini overthrew the Shah of Iran, overran the American embassy there, and held 52 Americans hostage for the following 444 days. (It’s also the year I first ran for Cincinnati City Council as an independent – I lost. But I digress.)

Since 1979, Iran has been the world’s leading supporter of terrorism. They’ve fomented instability in the Middle East, and around the globe. They’ve brutally suppressed their own people. They’ve threatened to wipe our ally, Israel, off the map. And they’ve been determined to develop nuclear weapons for years now. (Obama defenders will claim that the Iran Deal will keep that from happening, but if you believe that, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you.)

Back in 2009, the United States missed a golden opportunity to assist the overthrow of this brutal, anti-American, corrupt, thuggish regime. After the Ayatollah had clearly stolen the election that year, hundreds of thousands of mostly-young, peaceful protesters took to the streets demanding human rights, and free and fair elections.

This peaceful so-called Green Movement (or Green Revolution) sought American support. Barack Obama was President then, and rather than support, what they got was the back of his hand. He basically sided with the corrupt mullahs who ran Iran rather than with the reformers. The result was that this peaceful movement was brutally put down by the government of Iran. (I spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his office in Tel Aviv several years later about this matter. He told me that the unknown story is that the Iranian government had been video taping the protesters, and that for months they systematically murdered entire families of those who had participated in the protests.) Even Hillary Clinton later acknowledged that “we were too restrained in our support of the protests in June 2009, and in our condemnation of the government crackdown that followed.”

We now have in Iran a similar uprising against the repressive regime. There’s at least a chance that this anti-American government could be overthrown. Unlike Barack Obama, Donald Trump is, at the very least, saying the right things. Rather than support the Iranian regime against the people, President Trump said “oppressive regimes cannot endure forever. The people of Iran are finally acting against the brutal and corrupt Iranian regime.” And Trump’s UN Ambassador, Nikki Haley, also weighed in strongly, saying “the people of Iran are crying out for freedom. All freedom-loving people must stand with their cause.”

Thus far the Trump Administration is handling this latest situation in Iran quite well. My recommendations for maximizing a positive outcome would be, first of all, the President keeping in mind that everything he says will likely be given great weight, so he must be very careful with his communications, be they tweets or otherwise. Thus far he’s been spot on.

The ability of the protesters to communicate with each other is critical. Currently this is principally done by cell phone, texting, email, etc. The mullahs will attempt to shutoff this means of communication in order to prevent the protesters from organizing. The appropriate American agencies, secret or otherwise, should be working with the protesters to assist them in overcoming this obstacle. The Iranian regime will accuse the American government of interfering in their internal affairs, but we are going to be accused of that whether we do so or not, so we might as well do so, and increase the chances of a positive outcome.

We should work with our allies in the region (the Saudis, the Gulf states) and our allies around the globe (the Europeans principally) and encourage them also to at least verbally support, and ideally assist on the ground, the protesters. These brave demonstrators are risking their very lives in speaking out against a brutal Iranian regime. The chances of success are elevated if they are not alone and know the world is watching, and hopefully helping, even if at a distance.

And finally, we should get the Iranian-American community, and the Iranian diaspora around the world, to support the protesters. They after all know better than anyone how their fellow countrymen have been repressed by a brutal, authoritarian regime for decades now. They have a unique point of view which could help ensure that the Iranian uprising ends well – this time.

So for what it’s worth, those are my thoughts on Iran. Let me know what you think.

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