Eric Edelman and Ray Takeyh want the US to “help” Iranian protesters:
They want regime change. The United States should help from afar by increasing sanctions and improving communication among the demonstrators.
If most Iranians want to change their political system, that is their right and the US should not hinder them, but the US should not be in the business of regime change. It is not our government’s role or responsibility to do this, and it is doubtful that our government’s interference would be welcome or constructive in any case. US involvement is unlikely to be helpful in a country where our government is widely and understandably loathed because of its past outrages and its current policies. At best, it would play into the hands of hardliners that seek to discredit protesters in the eyes of the population, and it could encourage false hope that the US intends to intervene directly on their behalf when that is extremely unlikely to happen.
It is debatable whether the current protests have the potential to bring down the current system. We have heard this claim several times before and it has been wrong in the past, but it is possible that something is different this time. One thing that I do know is that the US should not “assist, hasten, and perhaps even guide the revolutionary process,” as the authors urge Biden to do. The US needs to interfere far less in the affairs of other nations and should stop looking for new excuses to meddle.
Edelman and Takeyh call for the US to end negotiations on reviving the nuclear deal. This is not hard for them to do, since they have never supported the deal and have never wanted it restored. They say this “would rob the regime of its ability to generate hope among the population that sanctions might be lifted under its rule,” but it would also signal once again to the people of Iran that the US cannot be trusted to honor its commitments. Nuclear negotiations in the past have been practically the only productive and successful negotiations involving the US and Iran in four decades, so it seems particularly blinkered to shut them down as part of a cockamamie regime change policy.
Daniel Larison is a weekly columnist for Antiwar.com and maintains his own site at Eunomia. He is former senior editor at The American Conservative. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.