Adm. Mike Mullen, former Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has offered what he admits is a rather weak defense of the Iran deal: he hopes it will lead to regime change by strengthening reformists within the Tehran government. In an op-ed for Politico Magazine, Mullen claims that “Iranian reformists…support a nuclear deal because it would be a first step in the evolution they would like to see.” He also rules out a military option and says that Obama’s deal is the best deal possible.
Mullen’s arguments were dismantled in advance by the Washington Post‘s Jackson Diehl, who wrote nearly a week ago that the proposed Iran deal offered dim prospects for reform: “Everything depends on Obama’s hope that nuclear detente will change Iran.”
While that might have been a reasonable hope 15 years ago, when reformist Mohammad Khatami became president, Diehl noted that recent history suggests otherwise: “Today it’s difficult to find an expert who believes Iran will soon evolve into a more benign power, notwithstanding the 2013 election of the moderate Hassan Rouhani as president. Present and former senior administration officials I consulted said they expected the Iranian regime would remain the same in the next few years, or maybe get worse.”
Politico itself has also reported that even some White House officials think the deal might strengthen the regime.
In addition, as Mullen well knows, the fact is that Obama administration has backed away from regime change, or even reform, for the past six years.
President Barack Obama deliberately refused to pressure the regime when it was vulnerable in the summer of 2009, and he has done nothing to check Iran’s regional expansion or its expanded terror and repression under the supposed “moderate” Hassan Rouhani.
While some hard-liners grumble about the very idea of a deal with the U.S., the fact is that the Iran deal will enable Iran to go nuclear eventually while allowing the regime to consolidate its power. Hardly a recipe for change.