The Land of the Free, but Not the Home of the Brave

Ask any elementary school child what the founding principles of the United States of America are and they will answer without hesitation: Freedom and Bravery. They are taught to value these principles at a young age, as they are embedded in American society and recounted daily in the singing of the national anthem when they chant “oh say does that Star – Spangled Banner yet wave, over the land of the free and the home of the brave”.

But freedom, as we have learned, does not come free. The cost of freedom is bravery, which can be defined as acting courageously and in-spite of fear. This virtue has allowed the US to pioneer technology, fight diseases, protect human rights and hunt global menace.

Yet, when it comes to today’s biggest threat to world freedom, that of Iran’s extremist Islamic regime acquiring a nuclear weapon, the US seems to have forgotten the bravery it so highly values, and the inherent link between that bravery and America’s subsequent freedom.

Aside from its hidden nuclear agenda, blatant human rights abuses and disregard for international obligations, the Iranian Regime transparently endorses global instability: sponsoring proxy terror networks worldwide (i.e. Hezbollah, Hamas), supporting groups like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and aiding leaders like Bashar el Assad in Syria. In this regard, the Obama Administrations policies have fallen short of acting bravely to come up with a comprehensive solution to the Iranian problem.  Therefore, the time has come for the US to daringly express the truth , that the time has come for this oppressive, corrupt, mismanaged, racist and backwards Regime to “meet its maker” – the Iranian people.

The US has opposed extremist rogue elements in the past, openly calling for and actively participating in regime change by hunting down leaders like Saddam Hussein, Qaddafi and Noriega in Panama.  So what makes Iran’s Supreme Ayatollah “demigod” any different?

Perhaps the US feels that the status quo is preferred to conflict, as the shadow of Iraq/Afghanistan still darkens its periphery; or perhaps the US feels that negotiations are of strategic necessity, revealing Iran’s rational qualities and thus diluting the fear of the American constituency. Yet, even if this policy serves a strategic purpose (namely buying decision-makers more time during an election year), the fact that the US is playing directly into the hands of the Iranian regime by humoring nuclear negotiations manifests cowardice and is a counter-productive policy.  The more the US buys time, the more the regime gains time.

So, for the US to achieve its true goals –that of Regime Change- it must implement a number of brave policies:

1)      Increasing and deepening sanctions to weaken the regime (a step which is contra to the nuclear negotiations in which the US is showing a willingness to abandon certain sanctions in return for an Iranian compromise on it enrichment activity).

2)      Adding diplomatic sanctions (such as banning the regimes “diplomats” from entering the US and participating in international conventions).

3)      Supporting opposition groups both inside and outside of the country (a policy which should have been undertaken long ago, and certainly in 2009 when the Green Movements supporters took to the streets of Tehran after the fraudulent presidential elections).

4)      Provide infrastructure and the means for utilizing social media for a campaign of solidarity towards the people of Iran (through initiatives like the virtual embassy introduced by Hilary Clinton).

5)      Psychological warfare against the Regime (which would include Religious pressure, naming and shaming members of the regime, cyber warfare and promoting civil disobedience).

The truth is more complicated than it may seem: as Iran is a proud country of nearly 80 million, tarnished by a negative perception of US intervention, and a history of grappling with the quagmire of religious versus liberal ideals. And although the future Iranian coup must be brought about by the people of Iran, and not by an outside force, the US still has a fundamental role in its viability; namely by creating solidarity with the people visa via a public announcement of its true intended goals for the future of Iran. That declaration would read something like this: “the leadership and people of the United States of America wholeheartedly desire a prosperous and benevolent relationship with a sovereign and democratic nation of Iran. We support the Iranian people’s quest for justice and pursuit of universal human rights and freedom of expression, and we will support the people of Iran should they wish to alter the paradigm of their countries rule…”

Until the US musters the guts to relay its true intentions clearly and unequivocally to the Iranian people -and to themselves- and until the US embraces the people of Iran’s journey to self-determination through more active polices, the Iranian regime will continue to preside in Iran, dominating its people and tormenting the Middle East and the west.

This responsibility does not rest solely in the hands of US policy makers. In fact, the Iranian people have an even greater role to play in deciding their fate, and even more at stake in doing so. Iranian dissidents, in the US and Europe, must gather all their wits and passion together, organize themselves, and prepare to liberate their country. And, if a popular notion of regime change in Iran is accompanied by a representative body, and gains the proper US support, the chances of success will be exponentially amplified.

Therefore, in order to achieve its objectives with regards to Iran, America must reinvigorate its values, reveal its true intentions and bravely execute an audacious but viable policy.

The time has come for the United States to secure its freedom by reclaiming the word “Bravery” and by living up to the values of all freedom seeking Americans, so that they can stand firm and answer that rhetorical question posed in their national anthem; “O say does that star spangled banner yet wave, Over the land of the free and the home of the brave?”, and proudly say, YES.

About the Author
Nir Ben Yosef is a consultant in the field of international homeland security