Iran is listed as a state sponsor of terrorism in the world today by none other than the U.S. State Department. Iran has funded terrorists and violent regimes ranging from Hezbollah in Lebanon to dictatorships such as Chavez’s and Maduro’s Venezuela. The Iranian government was also a major supplier of IEDs to Iraqi insurgents during the Iraq War – many of which killed American soldiers serving in the conflict. This was a primary factor in the previous administration’s decision to strike General Qassem Soleimani in January of 2020. Iran has done a pretty good job at earning its reputation as a bad actor on the world stage.
For the first time since 2009, the theocracy faces a major threat to its legitimacy and power.
Back in 2009, the Green Movement protested election fraud and human rights abuses, particularly with respect to the controversial re-election of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Fast forward to nationwide protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini. Rather than provide emphatic backing to the protesters, the Biden administration has sought a new Iran Deal. One may presume this is because undoing the actions of the previous administration is more important than supporting a movement that could lead to a better life for Iranians. Why should the U.S. government throw a lifeline to a hostile regime that oppresses its citizens?
The death of 22-year-old protester Mahsa Amini following skull fractures she received while in police custody has sparked what could be the largest challenge to the Iranian theocracy in its 43-year history. According to her cousin, Erfan Mortezaei, Amini was tortured by Iranian police for refusing to wear a hijab – in violation of the regime’s mandatory hijab law. Since April of 1983, women in Iran must wear a hijab in public. Following her death three days after her time in Iranian police custody, protests have exploded with large-scale demonstrations. Azadeh Khan, a professor of political science specializing in Iran, stated that Mahsa Amini’s death was “the straw that broke the camel’s back.” Khan contends that the ongoing economic crisis in Iran, the high unemployment rate of young people and that women are the “hardest hit by poverty.”
In decades past, an attack on U.S. administration officials would have been national news. Today’s news cycle, however, allowed the reports of multiple assassination attempts on the life of former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to fade out of memory of the American public. National Security Advisor John Bolton and former President Donald Trump were also targeted by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard. Another threat to Pompeo’s life was mounted by Iran via social media with the message “live in fear.”
In spite of all of this, the Biden administration has insisted on reentering the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (known colloquially as the Iran Deal) that was initiated by the Obama administration and ended by the Trump administration. The governing rationale in favor of such a plan would be to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. However, history has taught us that offering lucrative incentives to adversaries does little to deter them from aggression. The original “Iran Deal” was compared to Neville Chamberlain’s “Peace For Our Time” offering of the Sudetenland to Nazi Germany. The Biden administration proposal in 2022 has also been compared to Chamberlain’s ill-fated offer, with Hugh Hewitt contending that a second Iran Deal would help none other than Putin’s Russia.
American leaders today can reach that same level of respect worldwide by taking a tough stand. Rather than capitulate to Iran, in effect propping up an oppressive U.S. geopolitical enemy, the administration should offer their support to the demonstrators and forcefully condemn the regime’s brutality. This month, Iranian government officials chanted an anti-American slogan, among other chants, in a meeting of the Iranian Consultative Assembly. If the administration doesn’t reverse course, the takeaway will ultimately be that anyone can take advantage of the U.S. with the Biden administration in charge.