No, Trump’s Iran Policy Doesn’t Strengthen ‘Hardliners’

Washington Free Beacon | 6/5/2018 | Aaron Kliegman
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Much of the recent commentary on the Trump administration's Iran policy has been deeply flawed. Beyond the usual claims that hawks in Washington want regime change and to trigger a U.S.-Iran war, many analysts and commentators have argued that a more aggressive U.S. posture toward the Islamic Republic will actually strengthen Iran's cruel and virulently anti-American government. These voices, abetted by the Western media, use two claims to support their argument: the administration's policy will bolster Iranian-regime "hardliners" at the expense of "moderates," and the policy will alienate the Iranian people, leading them to rally around their government in opposition to the United States. Both of these talking points are quite wrong and divorced from reality, yet they continue to appear in debates over Iran policy.

The notion that there's a divide between hardliners and moderates in the Iranian regime, and that the latter can chart a more moderate course for Iran if only the West empowers them, has become sacrosanct in some corners of the foreign-policy establishment. "Iranian pro-democracy activists overwhelmingly supported the Iran deal," tweeted Ben Rhodes. "But [President Donald] Trump and his anti-Iran deal echo chamber will spend a lot of time telling us about how they support democracy in Iran when in fact they're only helping hardliners."

Hardliners - Deal - Failure - Knives - President

"Iranian hardliners, empowered by the deal's failure, are sharpening their knives for [President Hassan] Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, and the chances of catastrophic war are undoubtedly greater," wrote Trita Parsi and Ryan Costello. "Now the hardline narrative—that the United States cannot be trusted and will never lift the sanctions—has been vindicated by Trump's shortsighted and self-serving decision to abrogate the nuclear accord. The hardliners seek to seize back all levers of power from moderates like Rouhani and Zarif, to destroy hopes for reform and to ensure the elevation of...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Washington Free Beacon
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