Foundation for Democracy in Iran

How to deal with Iran

by Kenneth R. Timmerman

The Sunday Telegraph

London April 27, 1997 - Letters

In Ambrose Evans-Pritchard's otherwise informative article, "UShawks seek massive air strike at Iran," (Sunday Telegraph, April 20,1997), I have been misquoted as espousing massive air strikes on Iran inretaliation for the Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia, if the evidenceshows that the Islamic Republic played an organizing role in that attack.

While Mr. Evans-Pritchard is correct that there are Washington advocatesof a retaliatory strike, I am not one of them. Indeed, I have publiclyadvocated a diametrically different approach.

State-sponsored terrorism is a matter of regimes, not nations. Ibelieve we should hold the leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran accountablefor its use of terrorism, not the Iranian people. I also believe that theU.S. and European efforts at changing the "behavior" of the currentregime are wrong-headed. As eight years of rule by the "moderate"President Ali Akbar Rafsanjani has shown, there are no moderates withinthe regime who are capable of reigning in this type of behavior. The IslamicRepublic will continue to assassinate political dissidents, attack U.S.interests around the globe, and subvert neighboring pro-Western governments,no matter which cleric is in charge.

The U.S. should focus its retaliation for the Dhahran bombing on theregime itself, by providing moral support to the democratic opposition,by funding surrogate radio and television broadcasts into Iran (Radio FreeIran), and by seeking international trade sanctions against the IslamicRepublic at the United Nations.

Instead of seeking a change of behavior on the part of this regime,the West should be encouraging Iranians from the democratic oppositionto change the regime. A strong, free, and democratic Iran is in everyone'slong-term strategic interest, starting with the interests of theIranianpeople.
Kenneth R. Timmerman
Executive Director
Foundation for Democracy in Iran

Note: sections cut by Sunday Telegraph editors appear in italics