Two of the conceits of the Iran deal were, first, that Hassan Rouhani, the former secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council who had overseen investment in Iran’s covert nuclear enrichment and weapons program, was a moderate. The second was that flooding Iran with cash would further moderate the regime.
The first conceit we now know, courtesy of the New York Times’ profile of Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes, was a myth. Even the U.S. intelligence community recognized that Rouhani was no moderate. This shouldn’t have surprised anyone — he was always the regime’s “Mr. Fix-It,” and had long bragged about having outsmarted the West on how to achieve nuclear aims and how to use diplomacy to pool the wool over credulous diplomats’ eyes.
To argue that enriching Iran might moderate the Islamic Republic simply misunderstands the structure of Iran’s economy as well as the history of past attempts to do just that.
But lest anyone still believe the spin put forward by Rhodes or the echo chamber about which he bragged and Ploughshares Fund rewarded with cash, here is President Rouhani, the so-called moderate, showering with praise Qassem Soleimani, head of the Quds Force and Iran’s master terrorist and with whom Rouhani described a 30-year friendship. As AEI’s Iran research team translated:
If we look at eastern Iran, and not just Iran but also throughout Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine, we see the footprints of General Soleimani’s valor and courage… Today the IRGC is not only burdened with providing for the country’s security. It has also taken the responsibility of providing security in countries that seek Iran’s help… The IRGC is a pioneer for the sacrifice and defense of holy shrines in Iraq and Syria and for the defense of the oppressed in Palestine and Lebanon and other countries that request Iran’s help.
Put aside Iraq and Afghanistan, where Soleimani coordinated the smuggling in of explosively-formed projectiles used to kill several hundred Americans. And put aside Syria, where Iranian intervention has contributed to hundreds of thousands of deaths and an order of magnitude greater number of refugees. Instead, consider “Palestine,” where Soleimani’s partners are not the Palestinian Authority or those seeking to live side-by-side with Israel, but rather Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad — both of which dedicate themselves to the elimination of Israel and any Jewish presence in the region, in effect, seeking genocide.
To endorse such life’s work suggests not only is Rouhani complicit in endorsing if not enabling terrorism, but also that pumping billions of dollars into the Iranian economy is having the opposite effect than that which President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry promised. Then again, that’s no longer a surprise as Obama’s point man—and likely Kerry’s as well—likely never cared about changing the game in the Middle East, so long as they could get credit for shuffling the cards.