On May 21, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a speech that outlined our new Iran strategy, in wake of withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal. Prior to this statement, he referred to anti-government demonstrations in the southern Iranian town of Kazeroon; he teased some of the contents of that speech, when he later tweeted, “We stand with the Iranian people who are demonstrating against and oppressive government.”
The address made more than passing reference to the Iranian people, declaring proactive American policies are intended to “bear fruit for the long-suffering people of Iran.”
The significance of these remarks: They amplify by much the same as earlier statements delivered by President Trump on Twitter and in his formal speeches.
Think of the May 8, 2018, speech announcing withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Trump declared “the future of Iran belongs to its people,” and, “the United States stands with those people in their struggle." He ended saying, “great things can happen,” for the Iranian nation soon.
Here is a declaration of our overall goal of an emerging Iran policy, confirming that for Trump, the long-term vision for the future of Iran involves regime change. Such change may be an alarming prospect for some who feel committed to the status quo; but that commitment has always been misguided. And Pompeo referred to in his tweet, the fallacy of “business as usual,” is more obvious than ever.
Neither Pompeo’s speech nor any previous statements by Trump have made any hint at support for military intervention. Nor should we ever express such support; doing so, would court another quagmire, while delegitimizing any subsequent change of regime. There is a difference between overthrowing a government and impeding its repressive infrastructure, while supporting established voices calling for change.
Prior statements about Secretary Pompeo are relevant for understanding his remarks to the Heritage Foundation on May 21. Consider the following:
The scuttled Trump administration ambassador to South Korea, Victor Cha, told a small crowd in Washington Pompeo had been given the North Korea “portfolio,” while new National Security Advisor John Bolton has been given the same for the Middle East and Russia, per Curt Mills.
Moreover, On March 13, Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton, agreed with president Trump’s position: the nuclear deal should be renegotiated or scrapped before the May 12 deadline, which is mandated by the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015.
“Bolton is a believer in the robust use of all instruments of American power,” and “perhaps the perception that Trump, Bolton and…Pompeo are willing to use these instruments will make it less likely they have to be used. (Ayatollah) Khamenei, Kim Jong Un, (Vladimir) Putin and others become more — not less — aggressive when they perceive American weakness,” said Foundation for Defense of Democracies CEO Mark Dubowitz.
On Oct. 10, 2017, Pompeo said, “There is a long history of proliferation ties, as between North Korea and Iran.” Proliferation partners share technology, making it easier for both to test and produce ballistic missiles and miniaturized warheads capable of being fitted on long-range missiles. They are proliferation partners.
Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), said in a statement coinciding with Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal, “Democratic change in Iran is inevitable and a free Iran is within reach.” And, “The end of religious dictatorship in Iran is a requisite for regional peace, democracy, security, and stability.”
The main constituent of the NCRI, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, (PMOI/MEK), plays a key role in fomenting unrest in Iran, as it has been acknowledged by Iranian authorities repeatedly during the period beginning December 2017, through the present.
If there were any doubt among the people who can shape or emulate our emerging Iran strategy, it bears mentioning: Madame Rajavi and dozens of speakers from throughout the world will be elaborating upon the regime change position of the NCRI and its supporters at their annual Iran Freedom rally in Paris, Jun. 30, 2018.
There’s no doubt these voices will give our leaders and Europe a better sense of how to pursue an Iran strategy that has domestically-driven regime change as its goal. It remains to be seen whether the White House will do more than simply hint at the pursuit of that strategy, in wake of Pompeo’s speech.
It is less clear whether Pompeo’s European counterparts will have the courage to follow in that venture. But in view of the opportunities being created by the Iranian people, even if regime change were not the stated policy of Washington and our allies today, that prospect is more tangible than ever before, and U.S. policy should reflect this reality.
The Way Forward
As Secretary Pompeo said in his address, there are several steps in our New Iran Strategy, only some of which are enumerated here.
First, we’ll continue to work with allies to counter the regime’s destabilizing activities in the region, block their financing of terror, and address Iran’s proliferation of missiles and other advanced weapons systems that threaten peace and stability. We will also ensure Iran has no path to a nuclear weapon — not now, not ever.
Second, we will apply unprecedented financial pressure on the Iranian regime. The leaders in Tehran will have no doubt about our seriousness.
Third, we’ll work closely with the Department of Defense and our regional allies to deter Iranian aggression, and we will also advocate tirelessly for the Iranian people. The regime must improve how it treats its citizens. It must protect the human rights of every Iranian.
In short, regime change of Iran is now the official strategic goal of U.S. national security policy.
Prof. Raymond Tanter (@ProfRTanter) served as a senior member on the Middle East Desk of the National Security Council staff in the Reagan-Bush administration, Personal Representative of the Secretary of Defense to international security and arms control talks in Europe, and is now Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan. Tanter is on the comprehensive list of conservative writers and columnists who appear in The Wall Street Journal, Townhall.com, National Review, The Weekly Standard, Human Events, The American Spectator, and now in Newsmax. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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