Protesters screaming “Death to the Dictator” began taking to the streets of Tehran on Monday after rallies elsewhere in Iran erupted earlier this month over severe water and electricity shortages in the drought-afflicted Islamic Republic.
The response to the very real plight of the Iranian people—whose latest rigged “election” ushered in President-elect Ebrahim (“The Butcher”) Raisi—was to send in militias to gun down the thirsty and disgruntled demonstrators.
Though the death toll is unclear, cellphone footage of security-force brutality has emerged on social media. It’s a familiar scenario.
The only wonder is that there are any citizens left in Iran who are brave enough to risk their lives in such an open fashion. Previous attempts at toppling the regime all have led to the same sorry result: the arrests, torture and murder of “dissidents,” and a subsequent enhanced crackdown on the public.
No surprise there.
Nor is the rejection by Iran’s Supreme National Security Council of the points of agreement reportedly reached in Vienna during the three months of negotiations towards a return to or improvement on the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. With Raisi slated to officially assume his role next month, and with the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden having been so transparent about its desire to re-enter the nuclear deal, Iran’s master puppeteer would be foolish not to keep up the pressure on the P5+1 signatories to the JCPOA to succumb to his demands.
Chief among these, of course, is a lifting of all international sanctions. But there are other conditions, as well, which have to do with the level of monitoring of nuclear facilities and allowances for the build-up of ballistic missiles.
According to multiple news analyses, if the talks in Vienna are postponed until after Raisi enters office, the whole process could be put on hold for months. Rather than applauding this development, however, the fantasists in America and Europe are worried.
Their stated aim is and always has been to undo former President Donald Trump’s 2018 withdrawal from the JCPOA. Whether they actually believe their own PR about the deal’s having prevented Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons is anybody’s guess. The powers-that-be in Tehran certainly know how ridiculous such a view is.
They also remember the current commander-in-chief when he served as former President Barack Obama’s deputy. Surely, they haven’t forgotten the eerie similarity between now and the period when Obama and Biden had been in office for five months.
Yes, it was 12 years ago—on June 20, 2009—that Neda Soltan was shot dead in Tehran during mass demonstration across the country. Innocent yet fed-up Iranians like the 26-year-old aspiring musician who would become the name and face of a famous meme (“We are all Neda”) had taken to the streets to protest the results of the rigged presidential election eight days earlier, which saw incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “defeat” opposition candidate Hossein Mousavi. They were expressing outrage that their ballots had been pointless in the face of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s will.
Then, as now, the administration in Washington uttered platitudes about the right of Iranians to “have their voices heard” at the polls. Then, as now, the White House was walking on eggshells so as not to antagonize the regime with which it was intent on negotiating the JCPOA in the first place.
Two days after that farce of an election, then-Vice President Biden gave an interview to David Gregory on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Asked by Gregory about who runs Iran’s nuclear program, Biden said: “Well, look, this is a regime; it’s not a single person. The supreme leader is, by all accounts the supreme leader. And so I doubt whether there’s anything that can be done without—of consequence—without the supreme leader’s sanctioning.”
He went on to explain how his administration could “engage” with Iran, even with Ahmadinejad remaining in power.
“Look, talks with Iran are not a reward for good behavior,” he said. “They’re only a consequence if the president [Obama] makes the judgment it’s in the best interest of the United States of America, our national-security interests, to talk with the Iranian regime.”
He continued: “Our interests are the same before the [Iranian] election as after the election, and that is we want them to cease and desist from seeking a nuclear weapon and having one in its possession, and secondly to stop supporting terror.”
One seriously doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry that more than a decade has passed since Biden made those statements. As clearly pathetic as they were at the time, based on Iran’s record, they were nothing compared with how they sound today.
It’s easy to have 20-20 hindsight, to be sure. But how can one come to terms with Team Biden’s refusal even to read the eye chart?
The answer is simple.
Though the U.S. administration should have taken the opportunity at the time to help the Iranians trapped in the clutches of a dictatorial Islamist regime to extricate themselves from it—not perpetuate their misery while endangering Israel and the rest of the world—doing so wouldn’t have suited its view that America was no better than other countries.
Acknowledging that it was necessary for U.S. interests to topple the Iranian regime, and not conduct “dialogue” with it through “goodwill gestures,” would have turned the entire Democratic Party’s dreams into nightmares.
Sadly, nothing has changed. If anything, the Democrats’ delusions have increased.
This makes sense. The only way to adhere like Krazy Glue to policies that have proved detrimental at best and perilous at worst is to concoct cockamamie theories about the “urgency” of implementation before the situation gets worse. And that’s a generous interpretation of what’s going on in the White House and State Department.
A more cynical but increasingly realistic assessment is that any administration headed these days by a Democrat, especially one held hostage by his party’s radical elements in Congress, has a dim view of America and wishes to downgrade its status as the world’s most powerful force for good.
Obama made no bones about intending to “lead from behind.” At this, he was so successful that his replacement was an “outsider” who vowed to “make America great again.”
If it hadn’t been for the coronavirus pandemic, which put a severe dent in the otherwise booming U.S. economy, Trump would have provided hope for the people of Iran, bent on extricating themselves from the grip of Khamenei and his latest protégé, Raisi.
What they grasp and the Biden administration ignores is that sanctions relief will not rid them of their misery. The only beneficiaries of cash from the United States and Europe have been, are and will be the nuclear program and global terrorism.
Ruthie Blum is an Israel-based journalist and author of “To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the ‘Arab Spring.’ ”