Talk to Iran
by Clifford D. May, President, Foundation for Defense of Democracies
Reviewed by James L. Abrahamson, contributing editor
When Clifford D. May urged President Obama to “talk to Iran,” he—unlike the U.S. president—did not have its leaders foremost in mind. May thinks the time has come for the president to speak directly to the Iranian people.
As seemed to be the case during Iran’s aborted 2009 Green Revolution, the Iranians might again be ready to listen: The country’s economy is crumbling. American and European sanctions have cut oil exports—Iran’s principal source of revenue—by 40%, and with presidential support pending legislation in the U.S. Congress could blacklist Iran’s central bank and the country’s entire energy sector. Iran’s leaders may be unwilling to abandon their nuclear weapons program, but evidence suggests that the Iranian people are willing to let it go.
Obama might also tell Iranians that they deserve leaders worthy of them, not rulers who oppress minorities, hang homosexuals, rape imprisoned virgins, murder citizens of other countries, and “incite genocide against Israelis.” As a warning, he might add that the United States can no longer tolerate: bombing Americans (as occurred in Beirut); assisting those who killed American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan; and Iranian jihadis who seek to impose Islamic supremacy on the world.
In his Peace Prize speech, the president stated that force is sometimes necessary. He should remind the Iranian people of that warning and offer to support “Iranians willing to take the risks necessary to replace a regime that has failed”—to take matters into their own hands and throw off their oppressors.