Sunday, August 21, 2016

End Appeasement of Iran, But Don’t Pull the Trigger (Yet)
Professor Daniel M. Zucker,

International Analyst Nework, 10 January 2010

Two articles in the Israeli press last week indicate that a growing number of Israeli political commentators believe that we have arrived at a point where engaging Iran diplomatically will only serve to allow the Mullahs to acquire nuclear weaponry which is seen as an existential threat to the Jewish state. Both Michael Kolker, writing at Israel Insider (“Only Force Will Stop Iran”, Israel, January 1, 2010, ), and Michael Freund at Arutz Sheva‘ (“Is it time to bomb Iran?”, Israel National, December 31, 2009, ) suggest that it is time to bomb Iran as nothing else will stop the current Iranian leadership from its drive to obtain atomic weaponry. President Barack H. Obama’s attempt to use diplomacy clearly has failed to stop the Islamic Republic of Iran’s nuclear program, and Iran’s counter proposal of last week should make even the most ostrich-like Western diplomats realize that their moment on stage in this drama has passed and a new scene is about to unfold.

Like Kolker and Freund, I believe that diplomacy is worthless in this situation; the Islamic Republic is only bargaining for time. I said such half a decade ago, and I say so now with even greater conviction. However, unlike my learned colleagues, I don’t dismiss sanctions and an embargo of Iran as useless. I do agree that neither embargoes nor sanctions will cause the current government to rethink the value of their nuclear pursuits because the Khamenei regime needs those weapons to maintain its hold on the reins of power. To Ali Khamenei and his puppet president, Mahmoud Ahamdinejad, the nuclear weaponry program is like a transfusion for one dying of internal bleeding-it’s their only chance for survival. So Kolker and Freund are correct that Iran will not relent in its quest for the bomb. However, tough sanctions and embargoes can have another important effect on the situation.

Most opponents of sanctions and embargoes reject these economic weapons as punishing the wrong people. It is frequently said that only the poor will suffer from such economic warfare. In the case of Iran-now in the midst of societal upheavals and a middle and upper class revolt for the past half year due to the fraudulent elections of June 2009 and the regime’s repression of all protest to that fraud-it is the lower classes that hold the key to the future. If the lower classes turn against the Islamic Republic, Khomeinism will be relegated to the dustbin of history. For thirty years the regime has subsidized the poor; now, however, budget deficits due to falling oil prices have required that these subsidies be curtailed and possibly ended to the rising consternation of the lower classes, already suffering under an inflation rate pegged anywhere between 15% and 28%. If we can apply tough sanctions and embargoes-all oil products, indeed all non-medical supplies-an action which to date has not been applied, the level of discontent will rise dramatically higher. Given that situation, the Iranian people are very capable of rising up and replacing the regime in a revolution.

Already there are reports of members of the Pasdaran (the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps) and the Bassij (the theological militia) turning against the regime-removing their uniforms, surrendering their arms, and joining the demonstrators. Iranians have made their disgust with the regime abundantly clear, as well as their extreme distaste for the likes of Hizballah, Hamas, and Jihad Islami. The parallels between the current situation and when the shah fell thirty-one years ago are strikingly similar and becoming more so every day.

There is one other event that may occur to allow the Iranian people to throw off the yoke of Islamist religious tyranny that has suffocated Iran for three decades. This week the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the petition of the oldest and best organized Iranian Opposition group-the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran-to be removed from the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. The PMOI was placed on the FTO thirteen years by the diplomatic engagement-seeking Clinton-Albright State Department at the behest of the Mullahs of Tehran. A favorable outcome is expected since the PMOI won similar cases in the United Kingdom in 2008 and the European Union in 2009, based on the presentation of open and classified information. If the PMOI is once again vindicated, this victory will provide the Iranian people with the oxygen needed for the sparks of freedom to ignite. Whether the Iranian people choose to be led by the PMOI or another group is their business; after living in the hell of a Khomeinist regime, it’s their right to choose what type of secular democratic government they want. If the Khomeinists are thrown out, any Iranian government will be an improvement, and the need to exercise the military option will be obviated.

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 our elected officials and the public of the dangers posed by Islamic fundamentalism and the need to establish genuine democratic institutions in the Middle-East that promote the dignity of the individual as an antidote to the venom of fundamentalism. He may be contacted at

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