Bipartisan support for Iran action
American officials this week announced that a full range of UN sanctions had returned on Iran, including a permanent extension of the arms embargo. Some observers debate the efficacy of these measures, particularly as the European powers have signaled that they will not enforce them. But the efficacy argument serves as secondary to a much more significant dimension of Washington’s resolve: Holding Tehran accountable for its transgressions.
Regardless of the immediate material impact on the regime’s economic situation, accountability is a principle that undergirds a specific strategic calculus. Consider the facts. American intelligence officials this month reported that Tehran had developed plans to assassinate the US ambassador to South Africa. Meanwhile, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran continues to increase its stockpile of enriched uranium, in violation of the 2015 nuclear agreement. Tehran’s terrorist activity has also escalated and, if left unchecked, such behavior could simply spiral out of control. Against this backdrop, a profoundly consequential question arises for Iran policy: If the Europeans and Americans fail to show Tehran that its malign actions carry serious consequences, then what will stop the further escalation of such acts? That is why the Iranian people themselves are calling for accountability.
Containing the regime’s regional meddling has already yielded historic results. As former US National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones told last week’s
Trans-Atlantic Summit on Iran Policy, the
UAE and Bahrain’s agreements with Israel show that “the circle of countries that are in direct opposition to what Iran is doing is growing by leaps and bounds.”
It is remarkable that, even during one of the most divisive election years in US history, the same strategic principle has vocal adherents on both sides of the aisle. For example, Rep.
Brad Schneider, a Democrat from Illinois, told the same summit:
“We must always play a leadership role in holding the Iranian regime accountable for its misdeeds abroad and against their own people.” Similarly, Republican Sen. Martha McSally said: “The US and the international community must continue to hold Iran accountable for its human rights violations and reprehensible behavior.”
This shows that, despite their differences, members of both major US parties agree on holding the Iranian regime accountable for its malign actions.
Now, the US and European countries must pressure the UN General Assembly and Security Council to take action on the Iranian regime’s atrocious human rights record. The objective should not simply be to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons; it should also be to put an end to Tehran’s destabilizing behavior in the region, stop its support for terrorism, and help the Iranian people have a representative, democratic and inclusive government. That is the ultimate strategic solution to the crisis.