Originally appeared on The American Conservative.
Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge resumes his discrediting advocacy for the Mujahideen-e Khalq:
Which is why I include myself among an incredible cadre of men and women from across every spectrum of life and political affiliation, in Europe and here in America, who have decided to embrace publicly the viable alternative to the clerical regime, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), and the 10-point Plan advocated by the NCRI’s leader, Maryam Rajavi.
It is rather incredible that so many former government officials and retired officers have embraced a totalitarian cult as the “alternative” to another country’s government, but it has been going on for the better part of a decade now. All of the MEK’s American boosters have proven that they have such extraordinary bad judgment that they should have no business talking about Iran policy (or any other foreign policy issue), and their continued advocacy on behalf of this awful organization is proof of how easily corrupted our foreign policy debates are. The MEK probably does still engage in terrorism, since its members were reportedly the ones responsible for murdering Iranian scientists a few years back, but there is absolutely no question that they are not and never could be a “viable alternative” to the current government. It is an indictment of Ridge and others like him, including the National Security Advisor, that they are so gullible or so obsessed with regime change that they are willing to make such ridiculous claims in public.
Ridge unsurprisingly doesn’t mention that almost all Iranians everywhere hate the MEK and want nothing to do with it. They certainly don’t want them to take over Iran, and I think it’s safe to assume that any attempt to force this group on the people would be met with overwhelming resistance. So much for being “viable.” It is a reflection of many Iran hawks’ ignorance of the country and its people that they think this could possibly work. He omits that Rajavi is a cultish leader who used to fight on the side of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, and he leaves out the group’s long history of abusing its members that continues to this day in their creepy compound in Albania. Every time that a prominent American shills for the MEK, it is an insult to the genuine Iranian opposition and another reminder that Iran hawks have nothing but contempt for the Iranian people.
In addition to shilling for the cult, Ridge urges the Trump administration to be merciless in its application of sanctions in order to strangle Iran’s economy even more than it already has:
President Trump’s views on Iran are both clear and appropriate, but frankly, I would like to see zero exports of energy. Some say that means the Iranian people will suffer, but they are suffering now. Inflation is at 40 percent, unemployment at 50 percent. The rial has lost 70 percent of its value. And the recent devastating floods engulfing 27 out of 31 provinces are a damning indictment of the mullahs for their 40 years of mismanagement, incompetence and the looting of Iran’s national wealth. We must encourage the president, the administration and Congress to sustain the pressure.
Existing sanctions are responsible for causing much of the suffering that Iranians are already experiencing, and Ridge’s answer to that is to cause even more harm in the vain hope that this will lead to regime change. Toppling the government in Tehran seems to be the only thing that matters to these fanatics, and they don’t care how many millions of people have to be punished along the way.
Daniel Larison is a senior editor at The American Conservative, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and is a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Dallas. Follow him on Twitter. This article is reprinted from The American Conservative with permission.