Amid the brouhaha over President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the US out of the appalling Iran nuclear deal, the elephant in the room is standing quietly all but unobserved.
Trump’s initiative is being either praised to the skies or deplored with dismay. The question being discussed is whether it will force the Iranian regime to abandon its nuclear program in a new deal or precipitate a terrible war.
Following Trump’s announcement, an Iranian missile attack on Israeli military bases on the Golan Heights led to heavy Israeli air strikes against Iranian targets in Syria.
There has been an equivalent, although more muted, flap over Trump’s decision to hold face-to-face talks with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The question discussed here is whether this will produce genuine nuclear disarmament by Kim, or whether Trump will be led by his monumental ego up the same garden path along which America has been lured before.
Both lines of thought are surely beside the point. For the elephant in the room is regime change.
Let’s go back to something approaching first principles. The Iranian regime is a menace to the world going far beyond its nuclear ambitions.
It has waged a self-declared war against the West since it came to power in 1979. It has killed numerous American, British and other coalition troops in Iraq. It is the greatest single state sponsor of terrorism in the world, responsible for the murder of countless innocents.
It has a burning genocidal ambition to wipe Israel off the map. Some of its members, especially the Supreme Leader, are fanatics of the Shia “Twelver” sect who believe that destroying Israel and the US in a global apocalypse will bring the Shia messiah to earth.
It is developing long-range missiles outside the terms of the nuclear deal altogether and which in themselves threaten the region and the world. The nuclear archive extracted in the Mossad coup proves its leaders are congenital liars who can never be trusted under any circumstances.
Accordingly, no accommodation can ever be reached with this regime to negate the threat it poses. The only reasonable strategic aim is, therefore, its removal.
Now consider North Korea. It has already been allowed to develop nuclear weapons. It is developing missiles and other technology which can attack the United States. It is credibly thought to be in league with Iran over its nuclear weapons program.
It broke its previous treaty with the US committing it to nuclear disarmament. It has been shown to lie and so can never be trusted. It will thus never stop presenting a threat. Accordingly, no accommodation can ever be reached with it. The only reasonable strategic aim is therefore its removal.
In the appeasement-minded West, regime change is associated with war. But that doesn’t have to be the case.
For here’s the thing. Although both Iran and North Korea have been holding the world to ransom, both are weak. Both are economic basket cases; Iran’s currency is in free fall. Both could be flattened by US military power.
The only reason for their strength is the craven weakness hitherto displayed by the West.
The nuclear deal allowed money to flow to Tehran with which it has equipped and trained its proxy armies and spread its power into Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Gaza and elsewhere.
As for North Korea, America’s feeble-minded eagerness in the nineties to negotiate and then preserve an agreement enabled the regime to become the menace it is today.
Now the US will turn off the financial spigot through which Western money has been pouring into Iran’s war machine. Assuming these severe sanctions are not (shamefully) undercut by Britain and Europe, these may provide the final push that can fell the regime.
For the Iranian people are continuing to mount widespread riots and protests. All but unreported in the West, this resistance across all classes poses a serious threat to the regime and it knows it.
“The future of Iran belongs to its people,” Trump said. “There has been enough suffering, death and destruction – let it end now.”
The best way to bring that about is regime change. And the best way to bring that [ital ‘that] about is to give the people the incentive to redouble their resistance and, crucially, make them believe they can succeed – because this time the world will support not the regime but them.
All efforts should now go into promoting and supporting the Iranian people with whatever they need to bring down their leaders.
As for Kim Jong-un, his offer to meet Trump, like his unprecedented meeting with President Moon Jae-in of South Korea, is undoubtedly due to the pressure being put on him by his patron, China. And that’s because China itself is under pressure from Trump’s threats of a trade war – not to mention the fear that Trump is such a loose cannon he might actually do what he has threatened to do and flatten Pyongyang.
Nevertheless, we must assume that Kim will cheat any agreement to de-nuclearize. So Trump should be making him (and China) an offer they can’t refuse. Either Kim accepts safe passage for himself and his family to live out their days in peaceful retirement; or he sees himself and his country destroyed (and China crippled) through punitive sanctions, backed by the credible threat of military action. Either way, he should be told, he is over.
It has become an article of faith in the West that the only way to resolve conflict is through negotiation and compromise. If faced with a fight between God and the devil, the West would doubtless split the difference and call it a triumph.
The result of the West’s appeasement of Iran, however, has been regional chaos, world terror and 120,000 missiles embedded among the civilian population in Lebanon from where they are pointing at Israel.
Trump declared, “We will not allow a regime that chants ‘Death to America’ to gain access to the most dangerous weapons on the Earth.”
How long have we waited for America to say that! But the threat is wider and more immediate than nuclear weapons. Whether or not all-out war now develops between Israel and Iran, the time for fine words is over. Now is the time finally to end these evil regimes.The author is a columnist for The Times (UK).