The Illusion of making peace with the mullahs

By Ali Safavi

The designation by the United States of the Iranian regime's Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Ministry of Defense and a number of affiliated banks and officials in its blacklist was a serious policy shift vis-à-vis Tehran.

The muted reaction by the Iranian regime's leaders to this move reflected their shock and at the same time anxiety over the implications of the IRGC designation, which some believe goes beyond the consequences of the United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Politically speaking, the U.S. decision was indicative of an end to the era of appeasement and toleration of the ruling theocracy and a necessary prelude for a policy of regime change in Iran. On the ground, it thwarts Tehran from achieving its expansionist designs in the Middle East and its accelerated quest to obtain nuclear weapons.

Not surprisingly, the mullahs' Iranian and non-Iranian lobby have again begun to shed crocodile tears for peace and the need to avert another bloody conflict in the Middle East at all costs, raising the red flag that the Bush Administration is bent on going to war with Iran.

Some have argued that Tehran has a right to have a nuclear program, that more sanctions adversely affect the Iranian population and that any U.S. strike against the regime's nuclear sites or military centers only strengthens the position of the mullahs. In this context, they have maintained that the mullahs would come around for the right price.

Flashback to 1930s! Under the banner of averting war and making peace, Britain ignored all the warning signs that Nazi Germany was in violation of the Versailles Treaty. While the then French Foreign Minister Jean Louis Barthou was pleading for tougher action against Hitler's increasingly belligerent and aggressive policies, others, led by Britain insisted that by giving concessions to the Nazis, peace would prevail. Four years later, British Foreign Secretary Neville Chamberlain returned after signing the Munich Pact with Hitler, triumphantly boasting of "peace in our time." History proved him wrong.

By way of experience, in the past three decades, the international community has run the risk of adopting the policy of appeasement, conciliation and "no war" vis-à-vis Iran's turbaned tyrants. To continue that policy would ultimately and inevitably drag the world into a war.  Like Hitler, the mullahs are preparing for war because they realize full well that they can only survive through expansion, war, crisis and acquiring nuclear weapons.

For its part, the international community is at a crossroad. It can ill-afford to ignore the looming threat from a nuclear armed theocracy with hegemonic ambitions. Those who propagate conciliation with the mullahs should take heed from the lessons of history. The only viable policy option in dealing with Tehran's increasing menace has to revolve around regime change. Denying the mullahs the resources to expand and replenish their war machine and removing the obstacles in the path of Iran's democratic opposition, including its designation as terrorist are concrete steps to this end.

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