Roger L. Simon

Trump Should Meet with Khamenei, not Rouhani

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Donald Trump is right to meet with leaders of countries who are enemies of the United States. As the saying goes, you don’t make peace with your friends.

And although we are barely at the beginning of a journey, the summit with Kim Jong-un has already shown some surprising benefits. The Helsinki meeting with Putin, excoriated by our tedious media, may yet prove to have been useful as well

Nixon long ago said “Watch what I do, not what I say.”  That was undeniable and should be true for any politician.  What they say is just palaver, delivered for any of a number of reasons.  Their actions are vastly more important. What goes on behind the scenes at the meetings is what counts.

Everyone knows now that Trump’s style is to compliment foreign leaders, even despots, publicly while sticking it to them with his actions.  He did and continues to do that with Putin and Kim, both of whom are still under heavy sanctions.   Whether this approach will work we don’t know, but it’s new and worth trying.

He mentioned at a press conference Monday that he is open to trying this again with Iran, with no preconditions. Good idea, but he should do that with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, not Iranian President Hassan Rouhani as was indicated.  Rouhani is in no way Trump’s equal.  He is only slightly more than a figurehead, elected from a short list vetted by the Assembly of Experts and ultimately by Supreme Leader Khamenei. He is their boy.

When the demonstrators in the streets of Tehran rightly cry “Death to the Dictator,” Khamenei is the man they are talking about.  Trump must meet with him.  Mike Pompeo can deal with Rouhani.  (Incidentally, the idea that Rouhani is a “moderate” is eyewash believed only by John Kerry and the editors of the New York Times.  He has put more people to death than his supposedly hardline predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.)

It’s unlikely that Khamenei would want to meet, but the U.S. president sitting down with anyone else would send the wrong message.

What Trump is doing correctly is putting maximum economic pressure on the Iranians.  Khamenei and the rest of the ayatollahs are religious gangsters who use their extremist faith for huge personal economic profit.

The supreme leader was said to control a fortune approaching one hundred billion dollars in 2013.  That was before the windfall payoffs of the Iran Deal.  Imagine what it is now.  That money, Obama’s donation to the mullahs while students demonstrated for freedom in the streets, has been used to finance Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and their client Hezbollah, leading to the deaths of thousands in Syria, Yemen, and beyond.

Moreover, Hezbollah, as we learned from Project Cassandra, is one of the world’s primary drug pushers, pumping opioids into our country and destroying myriad American lives. (See: “The Secret Backstory of How Obama Let Hezbollah Off the Hook.“)

Those who naively say Iran is “doing nothing directly to us” should be paying more attention.  They are the world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism and their ultimate target is us. “Death to America” is recited so often we may not take it seriously. But remember this:  When asked what he learned most from the Holocaust, Eli Wiesel replied, “When someone says they want to kill you, believe them.”

Since Trump pulled out of The Deal, Iran’s economy has been in free fall. There is a run on their currency, the rial, and the inflation rate is reportedly running at 221%. Trump has taken the right approach, hitting the supposedly pious mullahs where they live — the pocketbook.

He should keep it up and ratchet it up. Force the greedy Europeans to go along.  Who knows?  He may be right and the mullahs will come begging to make a deal that means something.  Or better yet, this time the demonstrators all over the long-suffering country will stand up and finally overthrow the dictator and his cronies.  And when they’re doing it, we won’t have to listen to that unbearably painful refrain “Obama, Obama… are you with us or are you with them?” The silence that came after that made it hard to be an American.

Roger L. Simon is the co-founder of PJ Media and its CEO Emeritus. He is also an author and an Academy Award-nominated screenwriter.