The Passionate Attachment

America's entanglement with Israel

Washington’s Iran Debate and the ‘Soft Side’ of Regime Change

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By Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett
Race for Iran
January 31, 2012

We have long supported a comprehensive approach to U.S.-Iranian realignment as the only way to put U.S.-Iranian relations on a more productive trajectory. But we do not understand how anyone can think that the Islamic Republic of Iran—any more than the People’s Republic of China—would negotiate its internal political transformation with the United States.

Yet this is precisely what Trita Parsi argues in his new book, A Single Roll of the Dice: Obama’s Diplomacy With Iran, blending distorted treatments of both Iranian politics and Obama’s Iran policy into a deeply misleading and agenda-driven account. In the aftermath of the Islamic Republic’s 2009 presidential election (which Parsi assured us, and continues to assure his readers, was “fraudulent”), Parsi was one of the most publicly prominent voices calling on the Obama Administration to take a “tactical pause” from diplomacy (which had not yet commenced). He advocated for such a pause because, he told large numbers of television viewers and Op Ed readers, the Islamic Republic was on the verge of collapse.

Well, here we are, almost three years later. The Islamic Republic is still here. Parsi, for his part, has returned to advocating U.S. engagement with Iran—but only if the Islamic Republic’s internal politics and “human rights situation” are a central part of the agenda. And the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), the advocacy group headed by Parsi, tells us on its website that the goal of U.S. engagement should be “a world in which the United States and a democratic Iran”—no mention of the Islamic Republic—“enjoy peaceful, cooperative relations.”

Make no mistake: this is neoconservatism without guns, effectively indistinguishable from the position of Michael Ledeen, who parts from other neoconservatives to side with Parsi and NIAC in opposing military action against Iran, but is ideologically committed to regime change there.

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Written by Maidhc Ó Cathail

February 1, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. It’s not surprising, however, that Parsi represents the “soft side” of regime change. In 2006, his National Iranian American Council (NIAC) received $107,000 from the National Endowment for Democracy, the regime change specialists.

    But with former Ambassador Thomas Pickering, once described as “a Reagan point man in Central America’s dirty wars,” on the NIAC’s Advisory Board, there’s nothing “soft” about this side of regime change.

    Maidhc Ó Cathail

    February 1, 2012 at 12:28 pm


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