The Iran Plan That Will Work for President Trump
On March 19, 2003, the United States and its allies initiated 21 days of major combat operations in Iraq. Then the victory America won turned into a long, terrible war that we seem to have lost. Iran may also be heading down a war path. But if can see the possible solution that exists within the Iranian people, then we can get to the peace we want.
America and its allies naively presumed that the Iraq war would plant the seeds of democracy into that country’s soil, which would grow and spread throughout the region. It was a hope to turn the non-democratic, Islamic states of that region toward our familiar kind of American democratic republicanism, which would bloom into peace and prosperity.
But peace never came, in the long aftermath of that quick war operation. Battles and attacks then dragged on with devastating violence for years. According to classified US military documents released by WikiLeaks in October 2010, statistics on Iraqi and Coalition deaths from the war show that between January 2004 and December 2009, 109,032 deaths resulted. That total was broken down into "Civilian" (66,081 deaths), "Host Nation" (15,196 deaths), "Enemy" (23,984 deaths), and "Friendly" (3,771 deaths).
In that process, many billions of dollars were spent on weaponry and logistics to try to stabilize the chaotic situation. Complicating the peace attempts, the Islamic Republic of Iran’s agents added to the turmoil. They took advantage of Iraq’s wreckage to expand the Shia regime’s influence; their goal was to export Iran’s Islamic Revolution into Iraq. With a constantly shifting field of militia alliances and countermoves, Iraq and Syria devolved into a horrific terror den for al Qaeda and eventually ISIS to seize territory and impose their bloody control.
Meanwhile, the United States placated other Islamic states in the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and other monarchical states with no democracy or freedom from Sharia. The people of those countries do not have the right to vote, or any right to criticize their princes and kings. There is no parliament to represent the voice of their people. They have no permissible system to ask for anything other than what their king decides for them. In those Islamic states, there are no western-style courts or judicial laws based on human rights. But still, the United States maintains economic and close diplomatic relationships with such regimes.
But not in the case of Iran. The Shia regime shattered that possible relationship, with its act of warfare against the American Embassy, forty years ago and a nonstop support of terror groups sponsorship ever since. Nevertheless, Iran matters, now more than ever.
Right now, President Trump’s team is weighing the balance of both approaches toward Iran—war, or conciliatory diplomacy. If things get extreme, then it could mean an attack of overwhelming force, if not invasion. Or, if a path of conciliation opens, it could mean a diplomatic tolerance, in the same manner as America handles the rest of the non-democratic Islamic world.
But both of these two strategies are wrong-minded. President Trump wants Iran to come back to the negotiation table. This invitation is offered while Trump has repeatedly warned that he would not allow the Islamic Republic to acquire nuclear weapons. But in either approach, human rights are not the issue addressed.
The danger in Trump’s plan is that if it comes down to invading Iran, there is a strong chance that many Iranians who are now in opposition to the regime will turn to become its allies. They will stand with the Islamic Republic to defend their homeland. They have done so before, and the regime promotes such paranoia in its propaganda against the threat of an invading, foreign enemy.
So, what is there left to do?
The best-case scenario for Iran is more subtle than the binary path that President Trump and his advisers seem to be focused on. It is a path of what are called “Color Revolutions,” which developed in several countries of the former Soviet Union and the Balkans during the early 2000s. Examples are the Bulldozer Revolution (2000) in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia; Georgia's Rose Revolution (2003); and Ukraine's Orange Revolution (2004).
Historically, Iranians have fought for their own liberty, and have striven to make their own modern laws, since 1905 with the Persian Constitutional Revolution. The best strategy which the United States could pursue against the Islamic Republic’s regime would be to help the organizing efforts by Iran’s social communities and its vast wave of youth population. Support them in their general strike. Give them free satellite internet, so they can talk to each other, and can send their strong voice to all international communities and outside media. From that small investment, the Iranian people will simply do the rest as needed to gain their own freedom, and as they wish to.
Kaveh Taheri (Twitter: @TaheriKaveh), American Truth Project contributor, is a Turkey-based Iranian Human Rights researcher and journalist who has worked exclusively on Middle East. Kaveh, who was a former political prisoner in Shiraz, had been sent to prison for his writings and statements on his Websites and Weblogs in Iran and fled the country through Turkey to save his life.