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HOLMES: How U.S. should handle Iran’s election results
It would be tragic for Mr. Obama to leave Iran and the world with the impression that he could have lived with Mr. Ahmadinejad’s stolen election. He should seize the moment and the moral high ground by speaking directly to the Iranian people, reinforcing their desire for freedom and acknowledging that the regime doesn’t enjoy international support.
The Iranians already have shown the regime doesn’t enjoy internal support. They apparently would like to choose more moderate leaders — if the mullahs would let them be on the ballot.
Mr. Obama also should rally international support for effective economic and political sanctions on Tehran. He should call on European and other allies to impose the same level of economic sanctions that the U.S. has imposed on Iran since 1995.
Depriving Tehran’s illegitimate government of a vital source of foreign investment, trade and loans would increase pressure on its leaders to change. They are unlikely to make concessions on the nuclear program or how they treat the Iranian people unless they are convinced their hold on power is at risk.
If Mr. Obama isn’t careful, he’ll end up with the worst of all possible outcomes: an even more oppressive regime strengthened by crushing the will of its people and armed with nuclear weapons.
To avoid that, he should repeatedly voice his support for Iranians struggling to reclaim their freedom. That would promote American ideals and universal human rights, as well as advancing U.S. national interests.
Iran doesn’t have to be a threat to its neighbors, its own people and the United States. By standing up for the people of Iran, we are isolating not the country or people of Iran, but a regime that increasingly is seen as illegitimate by a sizeable segment of the Iranian people.
Iran will see its international stature improve when Iranians are free to pursue their own interests — not the narrowly defined interests of a radical regime. That’s an outcome even Mr. Nixon and Mr. Carter could agree on.
• Kim Holmes, a former assistant secretary of state, is a vice president at the Heritage Foundation and author of “Liberty’s Best Hope: American Leadership for the 21st Century (2008).”
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