As protesters prepare to gather and the regime flexes its muscle, where does Iran stand? National Review Online asked our experts to assess the situation in Iran and how the international community should react.
PETER BROOKES Hey, Mr. President, how’s that engagement policy with Iran working out for you? Not so well, from what I can tell.
While you were busy hoping for a breakthrough, holding fast to the Pollyannaish foreign-policy notion that “if we’re nice to them, they’ll be nice to us,” the situation in Iran has only gotten worse over the last year — and precipitously so.
The Iranians are kicking up uranium enrichment beyond what is needed for reactor fuel; their ballistic-missile programs, which could carry dangerous payloads, are advancing; Tehran is re-arming Hezbollah; and the regime continues to hammer the opposition movement — one which could have changed the dynamic in Tehran but which you failed to support.
Despite missing many opportunities to get tough with Iran since you took office — were you expecting the regime to see the longstanding errors of its ways? — it’s still not clear today whether we have a policy for dealing with Tehran other than hoping for the best.
By the way, hope is no basis for a national-security strategy.
Unfortunately, allowing the Iranian regime to believe it can act with impunity — at home or abroad — will only lead to bigger, more serious problems as Tehran gains confidence and asserts itself in ways inimical to American interests.
It’s likely that the 31st anniversary of the Iranian Revolution, set for February 11, will give us a fresh look into just how bad things have gotten — and will, in all likelihood, keep getting. – Peter Brookes, a Heritage Foundation senior fellow, is a former CIA officer.
JEFF FORTENBERRY When it comes to Iran, the world is quickly approaching a moment of truth.
Two days ago, Pres. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did more than publicly reject a deal from the United States and other world powers that could have been a first step toward more normal relations. He also made the provocative announcement that Iran would begin to enrich nuclear material further — ostensibly for medical purposes, but in reality to a level approaching the minimum threshold for use in a crude nuclear weapon.
On Thursday, the 31st anniversary of the revolution that put the present regime in power, large protests may once again erupt throughout Iran. In a bid to intimidate and deter protesters, the Iranian government has begun to arrest key figures in the opposition movement.