The Obama administration’s strategy of engagement with Iran has been an abysmal failure. The administration hoped that a policy of silent acceptance of Iranian repression of protesters in June would yield results at the negotiating table. But the much ballyhooed breakthrough in September regarding uranium reprocessing turned out to be a case of the U.S. being snookered.
The opposition in Iran has not withered since the June protests, and according to this report, has spread far beyond Tehran:
Large-scale protests spread in central Iranian cities Wednesday, offering the starkest evidence yet that the opposition movement that emerged from the disputed June presidential election has expanded beyond its base of mostly young, educated Tehran residents to at least some segments of the country’s pious heartland.
Nonetheless, the administration’s policy remains one of attempted embrace of the Iranian regime, as witnessed by John Kerry’s proposal that he fly to Iran:
It’s unclear whether Iran would welcome the visit, and it would be controversial within both countries. The Iranian government has rebuffed other recent White House efforts to establish a direct dialogue.
The Obama administration hasn’t decided whether to make Sen. Kerry its official representative if he goes, but as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Kerry can visit if the White House and Tehran both approve.
Many opponents of Tehran’s regime oppose such a visit, fearing it would lend legitimacy to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at a time when his government is under continuing pressure from protests and opposition figures. Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets again this week to voice their opposition to the government following the death of a reformist cleric.
Needless to say, Kerry’s proposal is being hailed as a potential breakthrough by those who embrace the “grand bargain” approach to Iran, through which the U.S. would offer security guarantees to the rulers of Iran.
Such a strategy, in addition to being morally repugnant, would align the U.S. with the oppressors in Iran, and ensure that once again the Iranian people viewed the U.S. as siding against the people.
The Iranian regime has used the past several months to quicken its nuclear development activities, to foment rebellion in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, to re-arm Hamas and to further arm Hezbollah, to align itself with Hugo Chavez to spread rebellion in Latin America, and to instigate trouble at the Iraqi border. Embracing this regime merely will embolden Iranian expansionist goals.
If it were not clear last June, it should be clear by now that offering to guarantee the security of the regime is not a path to peace. The only way to avoid military action — other than simply acquiescing in Iranian nuclear weapons procurement and international agitation — is to take the side of the Iranian people in their quest for regime change.
Sending John Kerry to embrace Mahmood Ahmadinajad sends the wrong message using the wrong messenger.