The road to Damascus leads through Tehran. But, just as hardly anyone this side of General Flynn seems to agree that we are in a global war that threatens both our security and our survival as a free nation, hardly anyone can discuss Syria — which hardly exists — without grasping the essence of the matter.
Assad is only in power today because his Iranian supporters were losing to the ragtag opposition, and General Suleimani went to Moscow to beg for help. Putin was charmed by the request, and sent troops, trainers, materiel, and money to shore up the Damascus regime.
That is why the international sparring over Syria is between Trump and Putin, not Trump and Assad. The verbal fisticuffs should include Iran’s increasingly laughable “supreme leader,” Ali Khamenei, whose involvement in Syria is now openly challenged in his own country.
Khamenei has sent tens of thousands of Iranians and Iranian mercenaries to Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon. His failed and murderous regime, with Russia’s help, is responsible for the astonishing casualty, refugee, and death totals in Syria. Without the manpower Khamenei’s regime provides, there would be no debate over “what to do about Assad” because Assad would be gone.
That should have produced a winning strategy for the United States and our friends and allies: support regime change in Tehran, thereby pulling the plug on the Assad regime, depriving the Russians of cheap cannon fodder, and ending the Iranian funding of Hezbollah.
It has long been possible to subvert the failed mullahcracy. Most Iranians detest the regime. Keen-eyed mullahs and ayatollahs know this, and know that they will cease to matter to the majority of Iranians the minute the Islamic Republic falls. They all know, because they have heard the words from Washington, that Trump has no sympathy with the regime. Unlike Obama, he does not want a strategic alliance with Tehran. He prefers Jerusalem and Jedda. As do most Iranians.
So we should be supporting the internal opposition. Perhaps we are, but our leaders and pundits, even now, keep talking as if we must choose between a bigger war and the survival of the regime. I find that unfortunate and deplorable. Why are our leaders not openly calling for democratic revolution in Iran?
I am all for sanctions, but too many of the sanctions advocates seem to think that the sanctions are necessary to bring about the manifest failure of Khamenei and his cohorts, when that failure is evident to anyone who looks at the country. All the banks are rupt, including the central bank. The rial is worth one one-thousandth of its value at the end of the shah’s rule. Like the Soviet Union before it, the Iranian tyranny has destroyed the whole national ecosystem, starting with the water supply.
SIDEBAR: Revolutions are not the result of economic and social misery. They are acts of hope, carried out by people who want and believe in real change. If revolution were a response to misery, Venezuela would have long since had a successful revolution. And so would Iran.
I wish that Trump and his people would embrace this strategy. I don’t think it’s necessary to bomb Syria. Our most devastating weapons are political, and the call for freedom is the most potent.
Freedom for Iran would change the Middle East, and might have global consequences. It’s a mission worthy of a president who calls for greatness.