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Trump on Iran: 'They will know I am not playing games' Is negotiating proof of that?

{Originally posted to the Gatestone Institute website}

There are policy analysts, scholars or politicians I have come across who say, “I hope Trump fails.” One area particularly focused on is the president’s policy on Iran. The statement “I hope Trump fails,” however, is not a sound strategy.

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Those who hold this view would apparently rather see the country fail than see President Trump do well. Rooting for President Trump to fail in his policy with Iran means calling for empowering and emboldening a theocratic regime that has consistently threatened “Death to America” — with nukes, presumably, if it had the capability, which it is busy acquiring.

The core revolutionary pillars of this Iranian government are anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism. This country, which some people say they would like to see prevail over President Trump, has also been named, several times, the leading executioner of children. It has killed thousands of Americans, including in the 2001 World Trade Center attacks, and has committed — and continues to commit — the most unspeakable human rights abuses, including flogging and executing minors.

Iran has massacred its own people and is ranked the leading state sponsor of terrorism, and first in the world for executing people per capita. That documentation is just a limited accounting of the horrors it has committed; the list goes on.

Those who dislike President Trump, or those who are Iran’s apologists and lobbyists use different narratives to try to turn the public against the president on his Iran policy.

One common narrative is that if Iran is treated with kindness, concessions and respect, then it will respond by moderating its behavior. It will stop intervening in other nations, supporting terror groups, and inciting anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism.

History, however, has dispassionately revealed to us that this argument is a total fantasy, pioneered by President Barack Obama and his Secretary of State, John Kerry. During Obama’s eight-year administration, Obama and Kerry made unprecedented concessions, fully respected the Iranian leaders, lifted sanctions, offered them a fast-track to legitimate deliverable nuclear capability and showered the regime with $150 billion — all in an attempt to appease the ruling mullahs. How did that turn out?

Iran gained legitimacy, directed the billions of dollars to Iran’s military, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, as well as Iran’s militias and terror groups, and, through its proxies, has been deepening its foothold in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and strengthening its hold on Hezbollah in Lebanon, Venezuela and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Tehran continues detaining and imprisoning American citizens; as recently as 2016, it waylaid and interrogated US Navy personnel. Iran also further pursues its military adventurism by expanding its influence throughout the region, including in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Iraq.

The second far-fetched tactic that the Trump’s critics or Iran’s agents use is to implant fear in the American society by spreading the idea that President Trump is “starting a war” with Iran.

The president and his administration have clearly stated, again and again, that they are not trying to start a war with Iran, but instead to deter Iran’s offensives, threats and destabilizing actions through economic and political pressure. If the president was looking to “start a war” with Iran, he would not have invited Iranian leaders to the negotiating table; he would not have called off the planned strikes against Iran after Tehran had shot down a US drone over international waters and sabotaged several oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

President Trump has given Tehran many opportunities to change its behavior and become a constructive and rational state actor. Iran, unfortunately, has not shown the slightest interest.

By contrast, President Obama, in the first two years in office alone, authorized 193 drone strikes. Those amount to more than four times the number of drone attacks that the previous administration authorized in its eight years. The question is, why did the same critics not get up in arms and insist that Obama was starting wars?

Wishing Trump to “fail”, wishing one’s own country to go downhill rather than succeed — and misleading the public about the Trump administration’s policy on Iran by fear mongering and false information — is playing right into the hands of Iran’s ruling mullahs who never tire of saying that what they wish for America is “death”.

(Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a business strategist and advisor,  and president of the International American Council on the Middle East)

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