Amid the pandemic, some US Congressmen already appear to be spending their political capital on one thing: Appeasing the Iranian regime and pushing for a softer policy towards the mullahs. Pictured: Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (Photo by khamenei.ir/AFP via Getty Images)
Amid the pandemic, some US Congressmen already appear to be spending their political capital on one thing: Appeasing the Iranian regime and pushing for a softer policy towards the mullahs. More than 100 Congressmen recently signed a letter expressing their support and urging presumptive President-Elect Joe Biden to rejoin the nuclear deal, which, incidentally, Iran never signed.
Entering the nuclear deal again would lift sanctions against the Iranian regime. The letter, led by Reps Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), David Price (D-N.C.); Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), and Abigail Spanberger (D-VA.), read: "We are united in our support for swiftly taking the necessary diplomatic steps" in order to "return both Iran and the United States to compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) as a starting point for further negotiations."
Biden, as he pointed out in an opinion piece for CNN, also appears to be on board with the lawmakers to appease the mullahs:
"I will offer Tehran a credible path back to diplomacy. If Iran returns to strict compliance with the nuclear deal, the United States would rejoin the agreement as a starting point for follow-on negotiations. With our allies, we will work to strengthen and extend the nuclear deal's provisions, while also addressing other issues of concern."
This means that as sanctions will be lifted against the Iranian regime, the ruling clerics will ensure the survival of their theocratic establishment and militia groups across the Middle East. That is why the Iranian leaders are excited. Tehran is also confident that the next US administration will rejoin the nuclear deal; Iran's President Hassan Rouhani recently said that he had "no doubt" about a pending return to the status quo under Joe Biden's administration.
Have these lawmakers and Biden learned nothing from recent history? Some may argue that Iran's mullahs would change their destructive behavior if they were rewarded in advance with appeasement policies and financial incentives. This argument, however, has been proven to be breathtakingly wrong.
There was an opportunity to initiate and expand peaceful policies during the eight-year administration of President Barack Obama. Throughout this time, Obama made unprecedented concessions in an attempt to appease the ruling mullahs. He met them with generosity and flexibility every step of the way. What was the outcome?
As sanctions against Iran were lifted during the Obama administration, it quickly became clear that those actions, instead of moderating the malign activity of the mullahs, gave Iran an unmerited global legitimacy in the eyes of the international community. These gifts from the US -- the newfound legitimacy, the billions in cash and the lifting of sanctions -- generated even more billions in revenue for Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), as well as for Iran's militias and terror groups. Tehran also used that influx of revenues to expand its influence throughout the region, including in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon -- and as far away as Venezuela. Iran apparently sees Venezuela as its "beachhead for diplomatic and commercial expansion into Latin America," including "underground 'missile cities'" along the Gulf coast. Iran's expansion campaign has proved to be immensely successful.
These lawmakers, who are pushing for a softer policy towards the mullahs, do not seem even slightly concerned about Iran's role as the world's foremost state sponsor of terrorism, a threat far more immediate and closer to home, as its agents or proxies could strike virtually anywhere in the world, at any time.
These lawmakers are emboldening and empowering a regime that does not hesitate to kill American citizens, whether 241 marines in Beirut in 1983; 17 killed and 39 injured when an Iranian vessel attacked the USS Cole, or on 9/11, nearly 3,000 killed. Recently, Iran's leadership attacked the US Embassy in Iraq. "Our embassy in Baghdad got hit Sunday by several rockets," tweeted President Donald J. Trump. "Three rockets failed to launch. Guess where they were from: IRAN. Now we hear chatter of additional attacks against Americans in Iraq." Trump rightfully warned the Tehran regime: "Some friendly health advice to Iran: If one American is killed, I will hold Iran responsible. Think it over".
These lawmakers also do not seem even slightly concerned about the Iranian regime repeatedly calling for annihilating its UN member state, Israel -- a threat that should compel Iran's removal from the UN:
"....Article 2 (4) of the Charter states that all Members of the United Nations shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations."
Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, made Iran's intentions clear while meeting with students in May 2019. "You young people," he said, "should be assured that you will witness the demise of the enemies of humanity, meaning the degenerate American civilization, and the demise of Israel". The Deputy Commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Hossein Salami, on Iran's Channel 2 TV, also announced that Israel is "vulnerable and bringing itself closer to death". Salami made the strategy of the Iranian government unmistakably clear by stating: "Our strategy is to erase Israel from the global political map. And, it seems that, considering the evil that Israel is doing, it is bringing itself closer to that."
It is unfortunate that the priority of these lawmakers does not seem to concern advancing the interests of American people or the West, but instead appeasing the mullahs of Iran -- who do not stop killing Americans, chanting "Death to America" and calling for annihilation of Israel.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a business strategist and advisor, Harvard-educated scholar, political scientist, board member of Harvard International Review, and president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He has authored several books on Islam and US foreign policy. He can be reached at Dr.Rafizadeh@Post.Harvard.Edu