Why Isn't Iran Like the Poland of Solidarity?
by: Professor Daniel M. Zucker
Norman Podhoretz, Editor-at-Large of Commentary Magazine, published an essay in the June 2007 issue of Commentary Magazine and republished it in the Wall Street Journal on May 30, 2007 ("The Case for Bombing Iran"), in which he declared his fervent prayer that President George W. Bush would choose to bomb Iran in order to remove the threat of nuclear war instigated by Iran against Israel and the West.
Citing the history of the recent rise of worldwide militant Islamization as well as the prelude to World War II and the Holocaust, Podhoretz gave a cogent argument for militarily deterring Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from possessing the ability to fulfill the numerous threats that he has made against the State of Israel and the United States. Podhoretz suggests that as costly as such an operation might be in terms of Muslim anti-American retaliation, it is infinitely cheaper than continuing the present Western policy of appeasing Iran which soon enough will allow it to possess nuclear warheads.
Before delivering his verdict that the only way to stop Ahmadinejad is to bomb Iran, Podhoretz dismissed diplomacy as ineffective, based on the failure of the past three and a half years of negotiations carried out by the leadership of the EU. As regards diplomacy, I agree completely with Podhoretz, but base my views on the experience of the last 28 years since the formation of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and especially on the last decade since the Clinton-Albright overtures to Tehran. Diplomacy--aka appeasement--did not bring us a "dialogue of civilizations" as Mohammad Khatami (Ahmadinejad's predecessor) promised, but rather led to the selection of Ahmadinejad as the public face of the regime run by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Podhoretz also discussed the possibility of regime change, brought about by the imposition of sanctions and support for opposition parties within Iran. Claiming that, under the influence of the great Orientalist, Bernard Lewis, he once hoped for such a people's revolution, Podhoretz states that neither have sanctions proven effective nor have the Iranian people been motivated enough to rise up in revolt. Podhoretz suggests that blame for such may be deposited at the door of the Bush administration for not doing enough to aid the Iranian opposition, as well as at that of those who suggested that the Iranian people really were ready for a change of government. But since no change has yet occurred, Podhoretz now concludes that only the military option remains.
Like many others, Podhoretz assumes that if the Iranian people really desired regime change, they would follow the example set in the 1980's and 1990's by Poland and Solidarnosc ("Solidarity") as led by Lech Walesa. Numerous Senators and Congressmen have said as much. However, what appears to be forgotten by Podhoretz and so many within the Washington Beltway, is the fact that our government did everything it could to encourage Walesa and Solidarnosc. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about Iran. Instead of assisting the largest, best organized, oldest, and most popular of all Iranian opposition groups, the United States and the EU have placed the National Council of Resistance of Iran and its principal member, the Mojahedin-e Khalq, on their Foreign Terrorist Organizations list, thereby once again bowing to political pressure from Tehran and aiding the mullahs instead of the Iranian people. Whether it is political naivete, or financial greed and a desire for lucrative deals with the Islamic Republic, the West has so far done nothing of substance to aid the Iranian people's best chance at regime change. In Poland we helped; in Iran we are hindering the chances for freedom by continuing to maintain a dirty political deal cut with the mullahs, one which Tehran, for its part, has broken many times over.
I share with Podhoretz the hope that President Bush will do everything necessary to prevent the Islamic Republic of Iran from getting the bomb. But unlike the good editor of Commentary, I believe that the first step now is not to plan an aerial attack on the Iranian nuclear sites, but rather to remove the opposition groups, NCRI and MeK, from the terrorist list, where they were put for unjustified political reasons. Help the NCRI and MeK like we did Solidarnosc, and the mullahs soon will be history. And for the record, these two organizations have forsworn the possession of nuclear arms.
I also think that it is time to apply tough sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran on gasoline, oil, and all products that can be used in the missile and nuclear programs as well as any other military usage. We cannot wait for the UN; this campaign will need to be one of the "willing". It's time to end all trade with Iran except for essential medical products. Divest from companies that do not adhere to the sanctions. Divest from companies that do business with Iran. Isolate the regime. Freeze the travel rights of all senior government officials and all senior members of the IRGC. And freeze their assets, most of which are sitting in Swiss bank accounts.
If President Bush removes the Iranian opposition from the FTO list by July 1st, he will have a year to judge whether the Iranian people are capable of removing the Islamofascist Tehran regime that currently terrorizes them and much of the civilized world. If not, he still would have time to strike the known Iranian nuclear sites. Norman, in the current political chess-match with Iran, it's time to call "Check"; "Checkmate" should still be waiting in the bull-pen.
Professor Daniel M. Zucker is Chairman of Americans for Democracy in the Middle-East.