The Iranian people have gone into the streets once again to protest against the tyranny of the mullahs after the death of dissident cleric Hossein Ali Montazeri. The Iranian government fears the reaction enough to ban any more memorials for Montazeri after protests erupted in Qom. Will the Obama administration finally show some support for Iranian opposition and refuse to grant any legitimacy to the mullahcracy, which has also defied global calls for an end to its nuclear-weapons program?
Sen. John Kerry has suggested becoming the first high-level U.S. emissary to make a public visit to Tehran since the 1979 Islamic revolution, a move White House officials say they won’t oppose.
The offer comes as mass protests against Iran’s regime are resurfacing and a U.S.-imposed deadline nears to broach international sanctions against Iran.
“This sounds like the kind of travel a chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee would — and should — undertake,” said a White House official, adding it would be at Sen. Kerry’s own behest. …
The Obama administration hasn’t decided whether to make Sen. Kerry its official representative if he goes, but as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Kerry can visit if the White House and Tehran both approve.
How do opposition leaders view this visit? As a betrayal, and as an endorsement for tyrants:
Many opponents of Tehran’s regime oppose such a visit, fearing it would lend legitimacy to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at a time when his government is under continuing pressure from protests and opposition figures. Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets again this week to voice their opposition to the government following the death of a reformist cleric.
Well, what do they know? Let’s ask the peace activists, the ones who believe that talking always solves problems. Surely this idea will get them excited, especially coming from the Hope and Change administration, right? Right?
“We’ve eschewed high-level visits to Iran for the last 30 years. I think now — when the Iranian regime’s fate is less certain than ever — is not the best time to begin,” said Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran analyst at Washington’s Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
“The wrong message would be sent to the Iranian people by such a high-level visit: The U.S. loves dictatorial regimes,” said Hossein Askari, a professor at George Washington University and former adviser to Iranian governments.
In other words, everyone outside of the White House and Magic Hat Land agree that this would be a bad idea.
The truth is that we don’t have any good options on Iran and its nuclear-weapon program. Sanctions won’t work, because the Russians and the Chinese conduct too much trade with Iran. The Chinese won’t agree to them, and the Russians will cheat to get around them. Military strikes sound good, but Iran has significant military capabilities of its own that can hit us in Iraq, the Straits of Hormuz, and throughout the Persian Gulf — and Iran has dispersed its nuclear program to avoid having it destroyed by airstrikes. Invasion would be almost impossible, thanks to the terrain and the 72 million Iranians that would resist it.
The best option we have in dealing with the Iranian nuclear and terrorist threats is regime change. Replacing the radical mullahs with almost anything else would improve the situation, and a popular uprising that replaced the theocracy with a secular republic like Turkey would be the best outcome. Instead, Obama seems intent on regime strengthening. We should be encouraging the democratic activists in Iran not just for the sake of democracy but also to relieve two of the greatest threats to regional stability.