By: Abbas Torabi

Trump's futile push for regime change in Iran

News ID: 4021323 -
TEHRAN, Jul. 05 (MNA) – Besides some former US presidents, Donald John Trump, James Norman Mattis, Michael Richard Pompeo, and Ezra Cohen-Watnick's names must be added as America's newest and most ill-advised, unenlightened, and incautious interventionist policy makers.

Besides William McKinley, William Howard Taft, John Foster Dulles, Richard Millhouse Nixon, George Herbert Walker Bush, and George Walker Bush as the main historical protagonists of American political sphere, Donald John Trump, James Norman Mattis, Michael Richard Pompeo, and Ezra Cohen-Watnick's names must be added as America's newest and most ill-advised, unenlightened, and incautious interventionist policy makers, which wrongly believe that the US has the right to wage war in all the quarters and whenever it deems war necessary.

Briefly told, time and again Trump's predecessors have overthrown foreign independent governments in order to put in power puppets for obeying the Oval Office. At this particular moment in time, these newcomers want to repeat same mistakes in the worst way possible. Literally, these guys are the most obvious examples of George Santayana's quote: "Those who fail to learn from the mistakes of their predecessors are destined to repeat them," over and over again.

History has shown us that numeres independent national and democratically supported movements in countries such as Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Nicaragua horribly thwarted by the United States. We have learned from history that in countries like Iran, Guatemala, South Vietnam, and Chile Washington has committed a covert actions and Coup D'états against democratically elected leaders like Mohammad Mossadegh of Iran, Guatmalan President Jacobo Árbenz Guzman, Chile's President Salvador Guillermo Allende Gossens whom were main antagonists and victims of American conspiracies. Above all, history has teach us that how illegally and instantaneously Granada, Panama, Afghanistan, Iraq, and most recently Libya overtly invaded by Washington.

Reasons behind regime change and it's incompatibility with Non-intervention principle

Since the last decade of 19th century up to the present time, the United States frequently, for imposing it's ideology, leveraging it's power to influence foreign governments, and obtaining control of resource-rich countries, has been breaking international law and order to depose foreign governments that refused to protect American interests. While in contemporary International Law and many Resolutions and Accords, specifically, Chapter I of the United Nations Charter "The principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of States", The United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2625, "The Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States," which was adopted by the General Assembly on 24 October 1970, and Algeris Accords of 1981 between Iran-US, the norm of Non-Interference in internal affairs has always been one of the cornerstone principles of international relations, which restricts the ability of all nation's to meddle with the demostic affairs of each other.

Chapter I of the United Nations Charter lays out the "Purposes and Principles" of the UN organization. Article II of this chapter, clauses 1-5 essentially in pursuit of the Purposes stated in Article I, says:

"1. The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members.

2. All Members, in order to ensure to all of them the rights and benefits resulting from membership, shall fulfil in good faith the obligations assumed by them in accordance with the present Charter.

3. All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.

4. All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.

5. All Members shall give the United Nations every assistance in any action it takes in accordance with the present Charter, and shall refrain from giving assistance to any state against which the United Nations is taking preventive or enforcement action."

According to the Algeris Accords on January 19, 1981, in which the Government of the Democratic and Popular Republic  of Algeria had an intermediary role in the talks between the Governments of the Islamic  Republic  of Iran and the United States of America, "in seeking  a mutually acceptable resolution of the  crisis  in their relations arising out of the detention of the 52 United States nationals in Iran," in the section of General Principles, Point I, in the role of "Non-Intervention in Iranian Affairs," reads: "The United States pledges  that it is  and from now on will  be the policy of  the United States not to intervene, directly  or indirectly, politically or militarily, in Iran's  internal affairs."

Consequently, pursuing Foreign-Imposed Regime Change (FIRC) as a foreign policy tool and exercising Coercive Diplomacy by forcing the target state to change its behavior, is in blatant violation of international law and order in all four corners of the world.

Story of a more than a century long intervention policy

Stephen Kinzer, in his detailed and invaluable work "Overthrow," narrates history of the fourteen successful Coup D'états and military interventions, which has always been a tradition at the White House foreign policy agenda in order to overthrow those governments that for the sake of their own national interests refused to abide Washington. Actually, "Foreign-Imposed Regime Change" has been a tactic of American foreign policy since ousting of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893 up until deposing Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in October 2011. The United States as an interventionist and a coercive political actor in anarchic environment of international politics, has shown the world that it will not hesitate to topple governments whom want to stand against it's political and economic ambitions.

Chalmers Ashby Johnson, author of urgently needed book "Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic," and professor of political science once said: "A nation can be one or the other, a 'Democracy' or an 'Imperialist,' but it can’t be both. If it sticks to imperialism, it will, like the old Roman Republic, on which so much of our system was modeled, lose its democracy to a domestic dictatorship." Johnson adds that "regime change story is a tale of Imperialism American-Style."  Moreover, Stefen Kinzer, famous author in Iran for penning his well-known book "All the Shah's Men,"  implyes that "no nation in modern history has done this [regime change] so often, in so many places so far from its own shores."

Therefore, even though theoritcally, Americans has always been divided over this big question: Whether it's a good option to depose foreign leaders? On the contrary, practically both sides of aisles in Washington political sphere has tried this tactic so often. In this sense, ousting of those foreign leaders whom might to take a stand against the White House, has been a bipartisan tactic of American foreign policy for more than 120 years.

Tillerson's vain promise for regime change in Iran

On Wednesday, June 13, 2017, for the first time, the Trump administration frankly and openly grappled the possibility of returning to Imperialism phase of American foreign policy strategy towards Iran. Actually, the current Republican administration's foreign policy team –which is filled with Hawks on Iran–showed up that is perfectly capable of changing Obama's policy of cautious engagement with Tehran. In other words, it does seem that Washington wouldn't want to see Obama's balance of power strategy between Iran and Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf region once more.

When the quiet man of the Trump administration, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in a hearing on the 2018 State Department budget before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was asked about whether or not the United States supports regime change inside Iran, he replied emphatically in the affirmative, adding that "Our policy towards Iran is to push back on this hegemony, contain their ability to develop obviously nuclear weapons, and to work toward support of those elements inside of Iran that would lead to a peaceful transition of that government. Those elements are there, certainly as we know."

If truth be told, Rex Tillerson, one of the wealthiest cabinet members of Trump administration—the one who has spent 41 years in the business world working for oil giant Exxon—is trying to show imperial version of his predecessor, then Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, the one who after spending decades working for the world's most powerful oil corporations, during his first two years of service as Secretary of State in 1953-54 orchestrated successively two Coup D'états in Iran and Guatemala, countries at which two nationalist governments had been challenged the United States' both 'commercial' and 'strategic' interests. In case of Iran, Dulles' main reason behind the scenes was being assured that the Middle East will safe for American oil companies. At the present time, Tillerson's vain threat of regime change in Iran seeks a safe and secure environment for Israel.

Thirty eight years of open hostility and sanctions against Iran shows us that regime change policy towards Tehran, by any way possible such as Coup D'état and military intervention are the perfect examples of how deep American foreign policy divorced from geopolitical reality of the Middle East and the Persian Gulf in particular. It can be said that, Washington's policy instead of seeking more rational, pragmatic, and realistic approach towards Tehran, has been remaind essentially unchanged, and gradually has been reduced to habit.

The end of Obama-era balance of power in the Persian Gulf

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's remarks before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when he said "Our Iranian policy is under development," has been proved that—unlike Obama's cautiously​engagement approach—the strategic equation around Iran and the Persian Gulf is changing under the Trump administration. In Frank language, Trump, explicitly wants to dismantle Obama-era balance of power in this region in favor of Saudi Arabia and eagerly revitalize President George W. Bush administration's hawkish and derogatory policies against Tehran.

In light of this argument, Nile Gardiner, director of The Heritage Foundation's Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, in his article "Trump must abandon Obama-era leading from behind," published on May 19, 2017, ahead of Trump's first abroad travel to the Middle East and Europe, has noted that "On his first foreign tour, Trump must lead from the front, stand with America’s allies, and project strength and resolve in the face of America’s enemies. As we witnessed in the last eight years, a world without robust U.S. leadership is an increasingly dangerous place. It is time for the new occupant of the Oval Office to reverse the failed approach of the Obama era emphatically."

In this sense, supporting regime change in Iran, could be simply considered as an announcing to the world that the White House is abandoning Obama's "leading from behind" policy of the past eight years and adopting direct confrontation stance with Iran. But, the question arises here is whether this new strategy could be regarded as "leading from front" or declining from the position of "rule-maker" to the position of "rule-taker?" In short, it does seem that Trump administration by adopting the role of rule-taker, and taking side of Saudis against Iran is preparing itself for a dramatic and adventurous crisis with Tehran on behalf of Saudi Arabia in which this country gradually will lose its influence over the rules that affect the Persian Gulf region.

The US Hawks must understand that regime change is a failed strategy

The problem with Foreign-Imposed Regime Change policy in case of Iran, is a much more dilemmatic problem. As a matter of fact, the issue is both tactically and strategically problematic. Tactically, there are two questions:  Whether the United States can use military intervention (overt overthrow) to topple Islamic Republic of Iran? The other question is much more problematic than other; To what extent, Washington can rely on "those elements inside of Iran that would lead to a peaceful transition" to implement a "covert program" to undermine and overthrow the government in Iran? Strategically, the question is whether the United States can replace Islamic Republic with a new government crafted in liberal image?

Notwithstanding the future is just one big question mark, let's sit down and see if we can come up with some answers. At the tactical level and designing "overt regime change" operations, it should be noted that, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's remarks on "peaceful transition" revealed that Washington is not capable of doing such a hard operation to topple Islamic Republic via military intervention. In "covert regime change" tactics, in the absence of a strong opposition inside Iran, Washington will get nothing done. Because, Iranians never ever trust "those elements inside" of their country who collaborate with their arch-enemy to bring down their legitimate government, just like what happened to the democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh in 1953 Coup D'état orchestrated by the United Kingdom and the United States.

At the strategical level, it's worth to remember that ISIL is a product of pursuing regime change policy, since 2001 as of now. Therefore, regime change is necessarily harmful for both the United States and the target country. Because, history of regime change and the U.S. policy makers' myopic attitudes to international law and order without understanding the countries involved; has teach us that the U.S. meddling and intervention in other countries has always been accompanied by destabilization of world politics and often leaves countries worse off than they were before. Owing to the fact that, creation of a power vacuum usually paves the way for rising terrorist groups like ISIL and other radicalized Wahhabi sectarian ideology in the Middle East.

Abbas Torabi has done his MA in North American Studies in Faculty of World Studies, University of Tehran.

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