The Neda Doctrine

Named after the young woman killed last June, this movement recognizes the link between stopping Iran's nuke program and helping its dissidents.

February 22, 2010 22:58
3 minute read.
Neda Agha Soltan - a symbol of the Iranian unrest.

Neda Agha Soltan - a symbol of the Iranian unrest.. (photo credit: AP)


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At the moment of greatest danger, American policy on Iran is incoherent. The Obama administration has wasted a year on fruitless gestures of appeasement. Meanwhile, Iran has built thousands of nuclear centrifuges and tested medium-range missiles capable of targeting Europe and Israel. The regime has also crushed protests and consolidated its power while the White House continues to dither.

Iran is violating three binding UN Security Council resolutions - 1696, 1747 and 1803 - that prohibit it from enriching uranium. Instead of enforcing them, the Obama administration has offered to help. Its proposal last October to allow Iran to enrich uranium and then send it outside the country for processing was a flagrant violation of these resolutions - and achieved nothing.

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Earlier this month, the Obama administration announced new sanctions against Iran's Revolutionary Guard, a repressive force that is deeply involved in the nuclear program. In fact, the sanctions only targeted one individual and his companies. The US Senate passed a broader sanctions bill unanimously last month, but the White House has been too obsessed with reviving its failed health care bill to notice.

Critics of the administration's approach have struggled for lack of an alternative. Few have the stomach for an attack on Iran's nuclear sites, which are dispersed throughout the country. Many have resigned themselves to hoping that Israel takes action. The US urgently needs a new strategy that will deter and punish Iran's nuclear program while aiding our democratic allies among the Iranian people.

THE US overcame the Soviet threat by making it clear that we would respond to an attack against an ally as if it were an attack against the US homeland. We also undermined the Soviet system from within by linking trade relations to progress in human rights. These two elements - a clear military commitment, and an emphasis on human rights - must form the core of a new, bold policy towards Iran as well: No tolerance for a nuclear Iran.

The US must commit to a military response in support of UN Security Council resolutions should Iran continue to flout them. The target should be not only Iran's nuclear facilities, but the main political institutions of the regime. We must force Teheran to hide its leaders as carefully as it has hidden its centrifuges, weakening the regime and giving strength to its many opponents.

Extend preemptive support to Israel. The US must commit to supporting Israel in the event that Israel decides to launch a preemptive strike against Iran, as it did against Iraq in 1981. Unlike a defense pact, which would allow Iran to attack before Israel or the US could respond, a preemptive guarantee would take the initiative away from Teheran and make it bear the full consequences of its present actions.

Develop human rights sanctions. Until now, sanctions have focused on the Iranian nuclear program. We need sanctions targeting Iran's abuses of human rights. The US must lead, because the UN Human Rights Council still refuses to act. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) have introduced legislation providing for human rights sanctions. Passage must become an urgent priority.

The US must assist Iranians in their struggle for freedom. We must help Iranians help themselves by providing alternative media platforms and developing technology that can frustrate the regime's attempts at censorship. We must deny the Iranian government any semblance of legitimacy in international forums, and speak out forcefully at every opportunity on behalf of Iranian freedom.

THESE FOUR steps together form what I call the Neda doctrine, which is a simple acronym that also honors the memory of Neda Agha-Soltan, who was murdered last June as she attempted to join protests against Iran's fraudulent presidential election. Her example reminds us that our greatest and most courageous allies against the Iranian regime are the Iranian people.

Iran's nuclear aspirations are a threat not just to its neighbors, but to Iranians themselves. Like other rogue states, the regime is using its nuclear program to consolidate power, justify repression and rally what remains of its domestic political support. As it moves closer to obtaining nuclear weapons, the opportunity for Iranians to replace the current regime with a new government is fading.

The Neda doctrine recognizes the link between stopping Iran's nuclear program and helping Iran's dissidents. It provides clarity to US policy on Iran by targeting both the power and the legitimacy of the regime. The Neda doctrine provides the best chance of achieving change from within, while retaining a military option. We won the Cold War with a similar strategy. We can win - we must win - again.

The writer is the Republican nominee for US Congress in the 9th district of Illinois. He is challenging J Street supporter Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL).

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