Decide on Iran
February 01, 2004
The Jerusalem Post
For over a year before the war in Iraq, US President George W. Bush waged an internal struggle over his own administration's policy. It took a number of high-profile speeches for Bush to swing his own State Department in line, after it had resisted the notion of Saddam's forcible removal for as long as it could.
Though certain aspects of US policy toward Iraq remain in internal dispute even today, the question of whether Saddam's regime should be removed has been resolved. Yet today, long after Bush's "axis of evil" speech, the question of the nature of the Iranian regime remains the subject of blatantly contradictory US policies.
Testifying before Congress some months ago, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage was asked point blank whether US policy was to pursue "regime change" in Teheran. His equally blunt answer was, "No, sir." Last month, following the terrible earthquake in Bam, Iran, Secretary of State Colin Powell seemed to see an opportunity for dialogue with the regime. Now a US-funded radio station broadcasting into Iran reports that, following the parliamentary sit-in by "moderate" Iranian MPs, Senator Arlen Specter would lead a trip to Iran to "improve relations" accompanied by Bush administration officials.
The Bush administration seems not to be able to decide something fundamental: Should the US be talking to the Iranian regime or seeking its removal? It is difficult to understand this ambivalence in the face of increasing signs of the mullocracy's unraveling. Yesterday, over 100 members of the Iranian Parliament resigned, following the mullahs' decision to disqualify 3,600 of 8,000 candidates seeking to run in the next elections, including about 80 sitting parliamentarians.
A government-sponsored poll found that more than 85 percent of the electorate intends to boycott the parliamentary vote on February 20. Even President Muhammad Khatami said that, under such circumstances, the elections would lack legitimacy.
In this context, a Bush administration-blessed congressional visit would be "throwing a life-line to a sinking regime," according to Shaheen Fatemi, writing on the Web site, Iran va Jahan. "How is this to be explained to the people of Iran, who have been listening to the president of the United States and his message of hope for the future of democracy in the region? While people of Afghanistan and Iraq are inching their way toward freedom and true self-determination, why is the Taliban-like regime in Teheran being courted?"
There is no explanation that stands up to scrutiny. As our columnist, Amir Taheri, wrote on January 23, "The Khomeinist regime is prepared to change aspects of its behavior and even concede some tactical retreats to weather what many in Teheran call 'the Bush storm.' But the regime's strategy, which is aimed at driving the US out of the Middle East, destroying Israel, and replacing all Arab regimes with 'truly Islamic' ones, remains unchanged."
How long will the West, particularly the US, continue to play the regime's game of giving powerless "moderates" credence?
Taheri reports that, in about 10 days, the regime will host a terrorists' jamboree, including their prize client, Hizbullah, two al-Qaida-linked Sunni groups, Latin American guerrillas, clandestine Irish organizations, Basque and Corsican separatists, and a variety of leftist groups from Trotskyites to Guevarists.
"Teheran today is also the only capital where all the Palestinian militant movements have offices and, in some cases, training and financial facilities," Taheri writes.
The "moderates" have no power to do anything about this, and that's assuming they oppose Teheran's support for terrorism. So why should the West constantly pretend that the regime in Teheran is any less of an implacable and uniform dictatorship than that in Damascus or formerly in Baghdad?
If there is a difference, it is not in the pliability of the regime, but the ferment among the people. Iran, unlike Syria or Iraq under Saddam, has a people that is not so crushed by the regime that there is no potential of mass disobedience of the sort that toppled the communist governments of central Europe.
Every feeler sent out to the mullocracy postpones the day of its collapse. The West should not be searching for moderate mullahs, but should be doing what the millions of ordinary Iranians want, which is to help them by isolating the regime. An invasion is not necessary. But a decision is. http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1075609219150