After elaborating on his decision not to respond to Iran’s missile attack on U.S. forces in Iraq, President Trump went on to extend an invitation to negotiations, stating: “We must also make a deal that allows Iran to thrive and prosper and take advantage of its enormous untapped potential. Iran can be a great country.
This is in line with the President’s long held belief that the economic sanctions he has imposed on Iran will ultimately force them to the bargaining table. The President further maintains that “We do not seek regime change” in Iran but merely behavior modification.
Like much of Washington, President Trump and his advisors are operating on the assumption that the Iranian regime can ultimately be enticed to do what in the best interest of the Iranian people and join the civilized world. This assumption is a projection of our own pragmatism and value for human life onto the Iranian regime and represents a failure to understand the actual motivations and goals of Iran’s theocracy. Washington is simply unable to grasp the radically evil nature, and religious fanaticism of Iran’s Mullahs and in particular, their obsession with martyrdom. This miscalculation inevitably leads to the loss of many more lives just as it has led to the loss of so many American and other lives over the past four decades.
While Washington recognizes that Iran is no a democracy the belief somehow remains that the Iranian regime must ultimately consider the will of its people. Thus, President Trump appealed to them directly: “Finally, to the people and leaders of Iran, we want you to have a future and a great future, one that you deserve, one of prosperity at home in harmony. With the nations of the world, the United States is ready to embrace peace with all who seek it.”
Unfortunately, the Iranian regime has no regard for the lives, much less the will, of the Iranian people as demonstrated most recently by the brutal suppression of protests throughout Iran including the murder of 1,500 of the anti-regime demonstrators. Iran’s theocracy is comparable the Nazis in its evil, brutal, anti-Semitic, and genocidal nature and is more genuinely fanatical. The Nazis, after all, never used gas warfare, or strapped bombs to their own children. As soon as the odds turned against them, Nazis soldiers surrendered en masse, while German civilians covered their cities with white flags, often denying having ever been Nazis. Many of the top Nazis too were mere opportunists who plead not guilty at Nuremberg.
Iran, by contrast, is run by a regime of true believers in an extreme apocalyptic version of Shiite Islam obsessed with martyrdom. During Iran’s war with Iraq these fanatics marched children across minefields and created a fountain in Tehran whose water was dyed red to emulate blood (of the martyrs). Even the Nazis would have been appalled.
In 1945, recognizing that there can be no appeasement or compromise with such radical evil, Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin decided at Yalta that they would accept nothing less than the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany. Had they not done so the Nazi regime could have played the Allies off against each other, sought terms and possibly survived in some form. Likewise, there is no possibility of effecting behavior modification Washington seems to be striving for with the equally evil regime in Iran.
Some propose the United States simply withdraw from Iraq, but this begs the question: To where? If we abandon Iraq to Iran and Russia, already in control of Syria and Lebanon, our position everywhere else in the Middle East becomes untenable. Were we to abandon the Middle East entirely the Mullahs would be left in control of the Persian Gulf and the world’s oil supply. Following the same logic should the 6th fleet abandon the Eastern Mediterranean to Turkey’s ambition to dominate it? Do we abandon all of Asia to China? At what point do we draw a line and protect our vital interests which include access to raw materials, world markets and free trade? The idea that, in this interconnected world, the United States can simply withdraw behind its’ own borders and continue to enjoy our current way of life is a delusion. Isolationist policies failed to prevent us from having to engage in WWI or WWII and will not prevent our enemies from filling any voids we leave behind and following us home, just as they did at Pearl Harbor and on 9/11.
Deterrence is another option being debated After all Israel has survived in a hostile Middle East for over 70 years largely thanks to an unwavering policy of massive and immediate retaliation for any attack on her territory or citizens. Ultimately, Jordan and Egypt came to accept Israel’s existence and signed peace treaties with her. While the Syrian regime still openly espouses Israel’s destruction, it has been deterred from violating the cease fire, in place since Syria’s defeat in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, unwilling to suffer Israel’s certain retaliation.
Unfortunately, any deterrence the United States gained by killing Soleimani was immediately squandered by our failure to retaliate against Iran’s subsequent missile attack on U.S. forces. Deterrence is built up through a clear, consistent, long-term policy, never the strong point of our messy democracy with its regular changes in administrations and congress and short-term political calculations. Moreover, Iran’s theocracy cannot be deterred as would a normal, rational regime as it actually seeks martyrdom as part of its apocalyptic vision.
If neither behavior modification, withdrawal nor deterense are realistic options for ending Iran’s reign of terror there remains only one possibility: Regime change. Only regime changes offers a permanent end to the Mullah’s reign of terror, and it is easier to achieve as well. The 52 Iranian targets President Trump threatened to destroy likely included all key Iranian power, nuclear, and military instillations. The drone which killed Soleimani in Baghdad was operated from Nevada and it is within the power of the United States to eliminate all 52 targets virtually overnight, without the President ever leaving Mara Lago. The Iranian economy, already in a severe crisis due to economic sanctions, would undoubtably collapse and with it the Iranian regime. This requires no invasion of Iran or loss of American life and minimal loss of Iranian life. Whatever regime replaces it can only be an improvement and is not our concern as long as it abandons the current regimes 40-year-old war against us and our allies.
Now that Iran has fully withdrawn from the restraints of JCPOA (the Iran nuclear deal), all estimates are that it is only a matter of months until she acquires nuclear weapons. At that point Iran becomes significantly more dangerous than Nazi Germany ever was. Any retaliation Iran may be able to inflict in the few minutes before their power goes out is preferable to waiting until she obtains nuclear weapons. In contrast to the decades old delusion of modifying the Mullah’s behavior, regime change is a realistic, permanent solution and the sooner the better. This may be politically unpopular for President Trump in the short-term, but it is the only way to relieve the world of the nightmare of a nuclear armed Iranian theocracy and history will smile upon him.