Iran: The U.S. needs to change the direction of its foreign policy

Davina Miller, a contributor to The Hill and former Head of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford in the UK, has written an article about the United States’ policy on Iran. She said that past presidents of the U.S. have treated Iran with defeatism, but hopefully this will change with Donald Trump who has already expressed his disproval of the Iran nuclear deal.

However, so-called experts are still saying that it is not possible to renegotiate the nuclear deal and to scrap it would do more harm than good. It could potentially lead Iran to getting a nuclear bomb or it could damage future negotiations. 

Last week Iran was told that it was putting the nuclear deal in jeopardy by exceeding agreed limits of heavy water. In this instance, critics of Trump should remember that Iran has a track record of breaking deals and agreements, remind Miller.

She highlights that one year later nothing has changed in Iran. The hope that resolution in one area could bring moderation to another has been nothing but a dream. The Iranian regime has increased oppression at home, and abroad through terrorist activities in the region. 

Speaking about reform in Iran, Miller said: “These are the means of survival, and factional fighting is about how best to maintain the regime, not reform it. To truly reform is to lose power and to face the wrath of the population. (…) To understand this dynamic is to understand that there is no prospect of moderation, and, thus, that the wider ambitions of the JCPOA were always a chimera.”

Mentioning governments in the West that have been dealing with Iran, she said: “The dirty little secret of Western political élites is that Iran has outplayed them for nearly 40 years, dangling the prospect of moderation as the carrot and the threat of terrorism as the stick for a torrent of concessions to the regime’s ambitions.”

Miller said that short-term solutions have always been sought rather than long-term solutions. This has been true with regards to the retrieval of U.S. citizens from Lebanon, Evin Prison, and now the nuclear deal that temporarily puts Iran’s nuclear ambitions on hold. 

“The last faulty assumption is that Western governments must yield to the Iranian regime as no alternative presents itself. Ironically — and, again, we see the regime outplaying the West — by restricting and demonizing the main opposition, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI or MEK) in exchange for concessions from Iran, Western governments have strengthened the security of what is an inherently weak regime.”

Miller said that the Iranian regime has tried to demonize the opposition as well as downplay its significance. Anyone who believes the regime’s criticisms has clearly never been in contact with the MEK, she added. “Many of its supporters among U.S. decision-makers initially approached the opposition with skepticism only to be won over by its political sophistication and the diversity of its Iranian supporters. All the MEK wants is a chance for democracy to take its course in Iran, whether or not it is a beneficiary of the result.”

When defenders of the Iranian government downplay the role of the MEK or say that it has no standing in Iran, it should be pointed out that it was this same group that exposed the nuclear ambitions of Iran. The MEK was able to provide this information which shows just how much support it has inside the country. 

Miller ends: “The CIA once concluded that Iran had the U.S. “for breakfast, lunch and dinner.” If President Trump can unpick the long-held but faulty assumptions of U.S. policy towards Iran and appreciate the regime’s weaknesses and the MEK’s strengths, not least its anti-fundamentalist agenda, he can bring a lasting stability to the region — with all the attendant benefits for U.S. security.”