March 27 (UPI) -- The pro-Iranian regime lobby has gone into overdrive since the White House announced that John Bolton would take over from Gen. H.R.McMaster as America's national security adviser on April 9.
There are almost daily articles in the press claiming that Bolton, a former ambassador to the U.N. under President George W. Bush, is an ultra-hawkish warmonger who will not hesitate to attack Iran. The media frenzy has certainly helped to shine a light on the source of these hysterical claims; none other than the ayatollahs, the turbaned tyrants who have oppressed the Iranian people for the past four decades.
To call Bolton a warmonger is a pure deception, given that the Middle East is ravaged by conflicts, largely due to Iran's aggressive policy of Shi'ite expansionism. It would be more accurate to label Bolton as a realist, because he has recognized that the West's policy of engagement with the ayatollahs failed to prevent war and in fact, by emboldening the Iranian regime, provoked further conflict.
It must surely be clear to even the most prejudiced observer that if, during the past 40 years, there had been a regular, popular and democratically representative government in Iran, the sectarian genocide and subjugation of neighboring Iraq would never have happened, nor would Bashar al-Assad have been able to survive more than a year after the uprising in Syria.
The catastrophically foolish invasion of Iraq by Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, followed by Barack Obama's naïve policy of pulling out all U.S. military forces, left that country completely at the mercy of Iran. The mullahs' support for the brutal Shi'ia militias in Iraq and their genocidal campaign against Iraq's Sunni population, opened the floodgates for the Islamic State.
Similarly, Iran's support for Assad provided a foothold for the Russians to intervene in Syria, dragging that bloody conflict into its seventh brutal year, causing half a million deaths and the biggest migration crisis to hit Europe since the Second World War. Obama's weak policy in Syria, such as disregarding even his own declared red lines on the use of chemical weapons in 2013, helped Assad to stay in power and also helped IS to get stronger with all its deadly consequences.
After the Iran nuclear deal and the lifting of sanctions, which released $150 billion of frozen assets, far from investing in its own people, the mullah-led regime used the money to redouble its spending on exporting terror through their Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and Quds Force, both of which are listed terrorist organizations in the West and are involved in almost every conflict in the Middle East. As well as Assad in Syria and the brutal Shi'ia militias in Iraq, Iran bankrolls and supplies the Houthi rebels in Yemen and the terrorist Hezbollah in Lebanon
Bolton has identified Iran's "Islamic Republic" as the source of terror in the Middle East and worldwide. This is why he has been willing to stick his head above the parapet and show his open support for the main Iranian democratic opposition movement -- the People's Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI or MEK). Ambassador Bolton has addressed mass MEK rallies in Paris, which always attract over 100,000 ex-pat Iranians. He has advocated regime change in Tehran as the only way to restore peace and social justice to the 80 million Iranian citizens and to end conflict across the Middle East. He recognizes that years of appeasement under Obama did not prevent conflict in the zone; it encouraged it.
Iran is the most repressive country in the Middle East. It executes more people, per capita, than any other country in the world. Ninety percent of all executions throughout the Middle East take place in Iran, often in public. The regime tightly controls the media and education. It is a misogynistic, male-dominated society, with vast conscript forces that serve as a further indoctrination and control mechanism. Iran's military forces now total 523,000, including 125,000 IRGC -- the regime's Gestapo, whose hard-line commanders answer directly to Ali Khamenei -- the despotic supreme leader and not to the civil government.
The recent uprisings in over 140 cities throughout Iran show that the people are sick to death with this theocratic dictatorship. They long for freedom, justice, democracy and the rule of law, but the IRGC and its cohorts have met their protests with the usual brutal crackdown. Around 8,000 mostly young protesters, many of them women, have been arrested. At least 14 have been tortured to death. These are atrocious crimes that Europe has chosen to ignore.
The U.S. administration's backing for the January nationwide uprising in Iran was warmly welcomed by millions of Iranians who feel that they are no longer isolated in their demand for change. They know that they now have American support.
It is time the U.K. government and the EU did likewise. Their cringing placation of the mullahs has been a disgrace. They have chosen to put trade and commerce ahead of human rights. Any expansion of political and economic relations with Iran must be conditional upon a clear progress on human rights, women's rights and a halt to executions. Human rights and women's rights in Iran cannot be compromised or marginalized on the pretext of political considerations, trade or the nuclear deal.
Winston Churchill once said: "You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor, and you will have war." His words have a sad resonance in the Middle East where Western impotence has encouraged the regime to expand its jihadist revolution across Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon, leaving hundreds of thousands dead and millions displaced in their attempt to achieve Iranian hegemony and create a Shi'ite Islamic caliphate.
Bolton has been advocating a firm policy with Tehran for the past two decades. He was always against a Neville Chamberlain-like approach and he should now be supported in his efforts to adopt a resolute policy with Iran to prevent more wars and bloodshed in the region. Chamberlain's policy encouraged Hitler to go to war. Obama's Iran policy encouraged the regime to export its terrorism and meddling in the region. There is only one way to stop the current wars and conflicts in the region: adopting a firm line with the Iranian regime and supporting the popular uprising for a democratic change in Iran.
Struan Stevenson, coordinator of Campaign for Iran Change, was a member of the European Parliament representing Scotland (1999-2014), president of the Parliament's Delegation for Relations with Iraq (2009-14) and chairman of Friends of a Free Iran Intergroup (2004-14). He is an international lecturer on the Middle East and is also president of the European Iraqi Freedom Association.