Iran’s Green Movement opposition has proven to be a stronger and more persistent political force than many advocates of diplomatic engagement with Iran’s dictatorship had expected. This development, as well as the regime’s continued duplicity and foot-dragging on the nuclear issue, has led some to revise their thinking about supporting regime change in Iran. For example, Richard Haass, a self-professed “card-carrying realist” who formerly opposed the Bush Administration’s support for regime change, now has changed his mind. He has written an essay in the current issue of Newsweek that assesses that “Iran may be closer to profound political change than at any time since the revolution that ousted the Shah 30 years ago.”
Unfortunately, the Obama Administration remains wedded to its engagement policy, which unrealistically seeks to strike a deal with the implacably hostile regime, whose self-defined ideological legitimacy is based on unceasing hostility to the United States. Even if a diplomatic agreement could be reached on the nuclear issue, against all odds, it would be foolhardy to expect Iran’s unscrupulous dictatorship to permanently abide by such an agreement. Yet the administration continues to seek such a deal over the bloodied heads of Iran’s opposition forces. Because it continues to define its foreign policy in large part as the opposite of President Bush’s, regime change in Iran is not change that the Obama Administration can believe in.