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