With former Vice President Mike Pence rumored to be exploring a presidential bid in 2024, his recent words on Iran have set the tone for a hard-line GOP nomination.
Iran’s pro-intervention National Council of Resistance
“Peace follows strength,” Pence said at a meeting of Iran’s pro-intervention National Council of Resistance.
“With our current administration’s embrace of the [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal], their hesitation to condemn rockets being fired at our cherished ally Israel, and the heartbreaking and disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, our adversaries may be sensing weakness in the current American administration.”
Whether or not Biden is successful in reviving the JCPOA and easing tensions with Tehran, preferably also lessening the tempo of tit-for-tat violence between regional American forces and Iran and its proxy militias, Iran will remain a key part of any president’s foreign policy agenda.
Biden may have resurrected the JCPOA
Biden may have resurrected the JCPOA, his team may have negotiated a new agreement, or talks with Iran may have ended in a deadlock. However, prominent Republicans will remain antagonistic, according to Julie Norman of University College London, who spoke to Newsweek.
“The stance that Pence took at the talk, which was really reflective of his comments elsewhere, I think reflected the GOP’s stance more broadly,” Norman, a lecturer in politics and international relations, said.
Norman said, “that venture of negotiating with Iran, they will try and frame as weak, as capitulating to a terrorist state… They’ll be looking to paint the negotiations in a poor light, whichever direction they end up going.”
Those tipped to run in 2024
Those tipped to run in 2024, including former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley—who called Biden’s efforts to rescue the JCPOA a “death wish” for Israel—and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who tweeted after the US pulled out of the deal: “The only way to deal with a maniacal regime like Iran is from a position of strength.”
Indeed, Iran is a topic on which Republicans can rally their base, demonstrate a distinctly different strategy from Democrats, and praise Trump’s track record.
In 2018, the Trump administration issued 12 demands to Iran. Ending backing for all extremist groups in the Middle East, withdrawing completely from Syria, and ceasing to threaten regional American friends like Israel and Saudi Arabia were among them.
The justification to oppose any contact with Iran
According to Vakil, the fantastical demands provide GOP leaders the justification to oppose any contact with Iran. “To walk away or climb down from those 12 demands I think would be difficult after leading the charge of maximum pressure,” she stated.
“These are unattainable demands, and so anything that falls short of them will allow these politicians to criticize Biden’s administration.”
Pence speaking at an NCRI event is a signal in itself. The organization is the political branch of the People’s Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI / MEK Iran), a group committed to overthrowing the Iranian theocracy and which was a proscribed terrorist organization in the U.S. until 2012.
The NCRI and MEK, both commanded by Maryam Rajavi
The NCRI and MEK, both commanded by Maryam Rajavi, claim to be Iran’s sole realistic alternative government.
Their detractors, on the other hand, regard them as a cult-turned-terrorist organization with limited internal support. Although the MEK’s activist network has intelligence value, it is hardly a government-in-waiting.
The MEK is “a well-organized, fully prepared, perfectly qualified and popularly supported alternative” to Iran’s present administration, according to Vice President Mike Pence. Rajavi is “an inspiration to the world.” he stated.
Pence’s praise for the organization, according to Norman, was unique. “It is rare for a politician to lean in that heavily in support of the MEK,” she remarked.