Iran's nuclear program: Is regime change the way to stop it?
While Obama officials tout tougher sanctions to get Iranians to the negotiating table, foreign policy conservatives are looking to revive regime change as the way to stop Iran's nuclear program.
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Townsend spoke at a Washington symposium Friday on US policy and the Iranian opposition that offered a flavor of where the debate over the administration’s approach to Iran is headed. The tone was similar to that of a House hearing on Iran earlier this month where both Republican and Democratic members of Congress pummeled administration officials over what they called an ineffective policy.Skip to next paragraph
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“The problem is not that a tough approach [to Iran] has failed,” said House Foreign Affairs Committee member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R) Florida “but that it has yet to be fully tried.” Representative Ros-Lehtinen is set to become the committee’s chairwoman in January.
Administration officials are hinting that another round of tougher economic sanctions will be coming in early 2011. But the advocates of a radically different Iran policy dismiss the administration’s stated goal of using the sanctions to force Tehran into a dialogue as ineffective and even immoral.
Noting that the Obama administration sees tougher economic sanctions as a way “to get the regime [in Tehran] to the bargaining table,” Townsend adds, “Is that really all?”
Also speaking at the Friday symposium, former attorney general Michael Mukasey was even more strident, placing “the regime in Tehran” at the “center” of an “Islamism that threatens civilization as we know it.”
'A stain' on US honor
He called a policy that places dialogue with the Tehran regime above support for the democratic opposition “a stain on the honor of the United States,” and he said that removing the MEK from the terrorist list and “offering all possible overt and covert support to the opposition” could at least begin to remove that stain.
A House resolution supporting a delisting of the MEK already has more than 100 co-sponsors and signers, with supporters predicting a rush of additional supporters in the new Congress.
He also had a word of advice for a new Congress that wants to pressure the Obama administration to take a tougher line with Tehran. Noting there was nothing like the barrage of questions he received in Congressional committee meetings as a member of the Bush administration, he said, “When the new Congress convenes … there are a lot of days empty in January for hearings – that will be a good start.”