The ongoing protests in Iran, expected to escalate
on the Islamic Republic's February 11 anniversary, have been met a government crackdown
and over 1,000 arrests. The response has provoked global
condemnation, worsening the Iranian regime's isolation as it slowly proceeds
with uranium enrichment. The Obama administration is taking a hard line against Iran
to deter its nuclear program. But as protests mount, what can the U.S.
do for the Iranian people? Some suggestions, it should be noted, would
be mutually exclusive.
- Less Is More Foreign Policy's Nader and Parsi write,
"History shows that intervention is easier said than done. [...[ the
United States is not sufficiently equipped to understand and shape what
appears to be a titanic struggle between Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali
Khamenei and his opponents." The U.S. should refrain from military
threats, which the regime would exploit, tightly limit sanctions, which
risk hurting pro-Democracy Iranian more than the regime, and slow down
diplomatic engagement, which would legitimize the regime.
- Allow (Limited) Nuclear Enrichment The New York Times's Robert Wright notes
that most Iranians, including the opposition movement, want to advance
a nuclear Iran. "[A]t the popular level, a separate motivation has
taken shape: pride in the technical prowess embodied in the program.
This pride may have grown more intense and nationalistic under Western
pressure to constrain the program." Opposing the movement's desire for
nuclear enrichment makes the U.S. an enemy of both sides of the Iranian
- Don't Engage Iranian Regime The Boston Globe's Jeff Jacoby writes,
"The closer Iran’s regime gets to acquiring nuclear weapons, the more
critical it becomes to ostracize and change that regime." He adds,
"Millions of Iranian dissidents yearn for a decent government. The
unabashed support of the Obama administration, backed up by very tough
sanctions, would powerfully aid their cause."
- Get Tougher on Israel-Palestine Haaretz's A.B. Yehoshua suggests that alleviating the conflict in Israel would reduce the political standing of Iran's hard-line, anti-Israel elements. "Peace
between Israel and Palestine would neutralize the poisonous sting of
Iran's hatred for Israel and shatter the political-imaginative
mechanism that makes it see Israel as 'the little Satan' that must be
destroyed at all costs."
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