The firm stance of the United States in the face of Russia’s growing threat to Ukrainian sovereignty contrasts with the uncertain American policy vis-à-vis Iran. While the Biden administration threatens Russia with devastating and even seemingly entertaining sanctions by arming a guerrilla campaign if Moscow invades its neighbor, its response to Tehran’s equally malicious behavior is muted.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s revanchism is a clear and present threat to the sovereign nations of the former Soviet bloc and the interests and values of the United States. The quest for regional domination by the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, also poses a great threat today through his interventions in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen.
Yet Iranian policy under the Biden administration is inconsistent. His rejection of the maximum pressure campaign, his acceptance of U.S. sanctions violations by China and Iran, and his relentless quest to revive a political agreement – the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – that has failed to stop Tehran’s nuclear program, have undermined the strong rhetoric the administration often uses toward Iran. In the region and in Vienna, Iran has only become more aggressive and demanding.
The inconvenient truth is that Iran is just continuing its longstanding strategy of deception, chaos and violence that it has deployed for decades – against which accommodation and appeasement have never worked.
Even within the negotiations, there are inconsistencies in US policy between Russia and Iran. State Department Assistant Secretary Wendy Sherman made it clear that there would be no talks about Ukraine without Ukraine and no talks about European security without Europe. This is not how negotiations with Iran are going. Israel and our Arab allies continue to be denied a seat at the table. This is a mistake because a successful strategy against Iranian malice can only succeed with the help of Iran’s neighbors, who are allies and partners of the United States. Only then will liability and safety be ensured.
Russia’s shameless disregard for international norms – as seen in Georgia, Syria and Ukraine – finds good company with Iran’s mockery of international peace and good faith. Putin changes international borders by force. He orders his political opponents to be poisoned, imprisoned or killed. Under his watch, Russia is orchestrating disinformation campaigns in free societies, meddling in US elections and engaging in aggressive cyber warfare. It’s a steady drumbeat of hostilities and Iran matches it.
The Iranian regime is directly targeting Americans. Its terrorist partners and proxies continue to fire drones and rockets at US military personnel in Iraq and Syria and those of our allies and partners in Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), including an attack deadly this month targeting civilian sites. in Abu Dhabi, where international business leaders were gathering for an exhibition and where the South Korean president was visiting.
Iran continues to hold Americans hostage and recently released a sanctions list – widely seen as a blacklist – of current and former US officials, including former US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, who sits on the council. organizational advisory. leader, United Against Nuclear Iran.
Tehran also repeatedly threatens to launch terrorist operations on American territory. Earlier this year, Esmail Ghaani, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) Al-Quds Force, even boasted of a campaign of terror against the US from “within”. Last year, the US Department of Justice indicted an Iranian intelligence network for attempting to kidnap Iranian-American dissident Masih Alinejad on US soil.
These provocations are simply met with piecemeal statements and sanctions, likely due to a narrow focus on reviving the failed Iran nuclear deal.
Some might argue that the United States has maximized what it can realistically do against Iran, unlike Russia, which has not been subjected to the same degree of isolation. But that’s just plain wrong. The lack of enforcement by the United States of sanctions against Iran, particularly with regard to the illicit oil trade with China, the absence of a credible military deterrent and the apparent concern of the United States United to remain at the Vienna table, regardless of Iran’s conduct, have not worked.
US policy toward Iran needs to be clarified and strengthened. The longer we wait, the greater the Iranian threat to the region and to the United States.
Joseph I. Lieberman, former US Senator from Connecticut, is President of United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI).
Mark D. Wallace, former United States Ambassador to the United Nations for Management and Reform, is UANI’s Executive Director.