Don’t Appease Me or Iran, & Don’t Launch a War; Try Third Option: Regime Change by the Iranian People
by Professor Rabbi Daniel M. Zucker
Intellectual Conservative, International Analyst Network, 30 May 2008
Andrew Silow-Carroll, editor-in-chief of the New Jersey Jewish News, published an Op-Ed column in the NJ Jewish News that was also published in the May 25, 2008 edition of The Jerusalem Post, entitled “Please appease me: What’s your Iran plan?”[i] In his essay, Silow-Carroll correctly suggested that neither Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential candidate, nor Senator Barak Obama, the current leading (in terms of the pledged delegates count) Democratic presidential candidate, and for the sake of completeness—even though Silow-Carroll does not mention her—Senator Hillary Clinton, no current political candidate has presented the American public with any plan for dealing with the variety of threats—not the least of which is the nuclear arms program—emanating from the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Silow-Carroll noted that President Bush’s remarks last week at the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) concerning the folly of appeasement—taken by some as a partisan political swipe at Senator Obama who had previously announced his willingness to meet the leaders of “rogue regimes” without preconditions so as to facilitate dialogue, including with Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad—raised the question of how to deal with Iran’s leadership. The fact that Bush’s remarks were aimed at his Israeli audience and concerned the Israeli-Syrian dialogue of the last three months, a fact that became obvious several days later when Syria decided to go public with the news, did not prevent Senator McCain from weighing in on the matter when Senator Obama called Bush’s words an attack on his position. As Silow-Carroll noted, despite the vehemence of the politicians’ interpretations of each other’s words, we have received very little in the way of a detailed plan, nary even a clear outline, of their respective positions on how to successfully solve what we might term as “the Iranian problem”. Hence, Silow-Carroll’s title includes the pertinent question: “What’s your Iran plan?"
I am not running for office; I may have my preferences among the candidates, but that is not my concern here. Rather, because of my contacts and active concerns for the last five years, I want to suggest the answer that Andrew Silow-Carroll and about 220 million other American citizens want and need to hear from our presidential contenders. There is another way to solve our problems with the belligerent tyrannical Islamist regime in Iran that does not require us to go to war, nor does it continue our nearly thirty-year failed policy of appeasement—sometimes sub-rosa, and sometimes right out in the light of day—but definitely appeasement of one kind or another.
However, before spelling out the simple details of the “Third Option Solution”, I want to enumerate several important steps that we should take to help facilitate the success of the third option. First, given the overwhelming body of evidence that demonstrates the Iranian government’s sponsorship of terrorism and belligerent behavior against American and Western governments and/or their allies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories, and Israel, it is time to impose a strict regime of sanctions and embargoes on the Iranian regime. As Iran imports some 60% of the refined petroleum products that it needs, we need to cut off the supply that the Islamic regime imports from abroad. So too, any equipment that can have possible military usage needs to be embargoed. Travel abroad by Iranian government and military figures needs to be proscribed, and all Iranian government foreign assets frozen. Such steps, if vigorously enforced, will cause the Iranian populous, which overwhelmingly despises the clerical regime, to oppose it.
Next, we need to announce to the Iranian government that continued hostile action by Iran, such as the training and supplying of terrorist proxies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, or the Palestinian territories will result in retaliatory strikes against the original sources of the weapons, the funds, and the trainers, staring on 1 July 2008; from that date forward, the Islamic Republic of Iran will be held accountable for all of the misdeeds of its proxies. Iranian territorial waters, airspace, and grounds will witness incursions as necessary to curtail the regime’s belligerent behavior. Israel’s strike against the Syrian nuclear facility on the upper Euphrates River on September 6, 2007, should be viewed as a paradigm for handling hostile Iranian actions that its proxies carry out under the direction of the regime’s Sepah-e Pasdaran—the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.
Now, let’s examine the “Third Option”. The Third Option[ii] is the empowerment of the Iranian people itself, aided by the Iranian people’s oldest, best organized, and most popular opposition groups—the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK)—to rise up and change the regime. Iranians are fed up with the theocratic government of the fundamentalists and want to create a secular democracy. If free and fair elections were held in Iran today, some 90+% would vote to throw the clerics and their supporters out of office permanently. So why has this not happened yet?
Through a brilliant campaign of disinformation, bribery, and bluff, the Iranian mullah regime succeeded in slandering the MEK and through the bribery of unscrupulous, greedy individuals and governments in the West, convinced the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union to proscribe the MEK and NCRI as terrorists, thereby denying the legitimate Iranian opposition the right to organize and raise funds to underwrite a campaign of resistance to the tyrannical regime in Tehran. Nonetheless, the Iranian people, yearning to free their homeland, raised the fees for the NCRI/MEK to mount a lengthy legal battle to overturn the UK and EU decisions against them. Earlier this month, the UK’s highest court upheld a decision by a lower court to reject the British Home Office’s designation of the NCRI and MEK as terrorist organizations, and ordered the British government to remove them from the Proscribed List immediately. A similar victorious legal judgment was obtained in the EU high court last fall. The list of Congressmen and Senators that have called upon the U.S. Department of State to do likewise obtains from both sides of the aisle, and I am proud to say that—led by Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo of Colorado and Democratic Congressman Bob Filner of California, the Congressional Iran Human Rights and Democracy Caucus is a significant voice in Washington calling for freedom and justice for the cause of the Iranian people.
Mr. Silow-Carroll, and (in alphabetical order) Senators Clinton, McCain, and Obama:
Read the recent article by Congressman Filner and Lord Corbett of Vale (member of the UK House of Lords from the Labor Party, and chairman of the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom)[iii], study the British high court’s decision, review the White Papers produced by the Iran Policy Committee[iv] and the DLA Piper report commissioned two years ago by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey and Dr. Neil Livingstone[v]. Having done that homework and any additional research that you deem worthwhile, such as interviewing the leadership of the NCRI and MEK—actions that I have performed as a private, concerned citizen—come to the only logical and just conclusion, and demand that the NCRI and MEK be removed from the State Department’s List of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. Such an action is and has been the worst nightmare of the Iranian mullahs and the IRGC for the last eleven year, ever since these two resistance organizations were proscribed in this country. De-listing the NCRI and MEK will tell the regime that we finally mean business, and it will tell the Iranian people that we really do stand with them in their quest to achieve liberty.
The Khamenei regime is fragile; daily we see cabinet ministers shuffled around to bring more hard-liners into the government to shore up the regime’s control of the nation. Nearly 15,000 political demonstrations, incidents, strikes, and acts of resistance have taken place in Iran since Ahmadinejad took office in August 2005. Regime change by the Iranian people is very possible if we stop aiding the mullahs and their clerical army, the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC). The time to act is now, before the IRGC succeeds in building a nuclear device.
Mr. Silow-Carroll: thank you for posing the question. Senators: the ball is in your court; 220 million Americans are watching you, as for that matter, are all the other denizens of this small and ever–shrinking planet. Don’t fumble it. Remember the “Third Option”—the only way to stop the mullahs and also avoid another American entanglement in a costly foreign war.
Professor Rabbi Daniel M. Zucker is founder and Chairman of the Board of Americans for Democracy in the Middle-East, a grassroots organization dedicated to teaching elected officials and the public of the dangers posed by Islamic fundamentalism and the need to establish genuine democratic institutions in the Middle-East as an antidote to the venom of such fundamentalism. The organization’s web site is www.adme.ws . Additional articles by Rabbi Zucker can be found at http://middle-eastanalysis-commentary.blogspot.com/.
[ii] The term “Third Option” was coined by President-elect Maryam Rajavi of the National Council of Resistance of Iran in a speech given several years ago.
[iii] Bob Filner and Lord Corbett, “Don’t enable Iran’s offenses”, The San Jose Mercury News, May 15, 2008, http://www.mercurynews.com/opinion/ci_9266311?nclick_check=1 .
[iv] See especially: Iran Policy Committee, A White Paper: Appeasing the Ayatollahs and Suppressing Democracy: U.S. Policy and the Iranian Opposition, IPC, Washington, DC, 2006.
[v] DLA Piper, Iran: Foreign Policy Challenges and Choices-Empowering the Democratic Opposition, A Report to the Government of the United States, November 2006.