Protests against the regime in Tehran and its heavy-handed treatment of dissidents are growing. One of two things is going to happen. The regime is going to collapse or the mullahs are going to clamp down even harder and the government in Tehran is going to become more extremist and more dangerous. The problem is that the White House is not well-prepared for either outcome.
This administration is certainly not ready to engage with the people of Iran and nurture and support their quest for freedom. As Heritage’s expert on public diplomacy Helle Dale pointed out during protests after the national elections President Obama “carefully positioned himself on the fence between the alleged winner, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and the candidate supported by Iran’s hundreds of thousands of protesters, Hossein Mousavi, the message from the U.S. government has been muted.” Even if the White House was prepared to act it has done nothing to build the tools to do so. The administration has made virtually no progress in updating the government’s public diplomacy tools and the White House has show no interest in democracy promotion programs for Iran.
Nor, is Obama deal with an even more aggressive Iran. As the government crack down, the extremist will get even more power—and with that power they’ll press for even faster development of Iran’s nuclear weapons program. We are already living inside the margin of error of when Iran might produce a bomb. The administration’s charm offensive has done nothing other than give Iran more time build a nuclear weapon and a missile to put it on.