Washington Examiner Quotes JINSA President & CEO Michael Makovsky, JINSA Senior Advisor Lt Gen Deptula, and JINSA Board of Advisors Member Lt. Gen. Toolan

Activists and Analysts Advocate Tightening Screws on Iran to Topple Its Leaders
by Jamie McIntyre

TIME FOR THE COUP DE GRACE? When the United States killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani at the beginning of the year, President Trump insisted the U.S. was not seeking regime change in Iran, at least not by military means. “We took action last night to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war,” he said Jan. 3.

But with Iran reeling from the impact of sanctions and the coronavirus pandemic, many analysts are advocating a further tightening of the screws in an effort to bring down the country’s fundamentalist Islamic leaders.

“The United States policy is aimed at getting good outcomes for the Iranian people,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in Israel Wednesday. “They’ll choose their leaders; they have chosen their leaders. We hope now that they’ll make a choice of leadership that changes the fundamental behavior of the Iranian regime.”

“Look, this is a nation that is the most anti-Semitic nation in the world. They have threatened to take Israel off the map. They also are the world’s largest state sponsor of terror,” Pompeo told Kans News in Jerusalem. “We are confident that that is not what the Iranian people want. We hope that the regime will change its behavior in a way that’s consistent with what the demands of the Iranian people have consistently been.”

THE REGIME IS VULNERABLE: “The regime is in a uniquely vulnerable position,” writes retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Dave Deptula in the American Spectator. “The U.S. should leverage its diplomatic, information, and military capabilities to strengthen and expand its pressure campaign, substantially increasing the costs for Iranian misbehavior. This includes working — ideally with European partners — to ‘snapback’ United Nations sanctions on the regime for its defiance of nuclear, missile, and arms transfer restrictions, which would also preserve the soon-expiring UN arms embargo.”

REGIME COLLAPSE: “To build on the momentum generated by the strike against Suleimani, avoid Iranian misapprehension of U.S. resolve, and truly change the game in the Middle East, the United States needs both to sharpen and clarify its policy toward Iran by adopting the strategic goal of ‘regime collapse,’” writes Michael Makovsky, a former Pentagon official and president of the Jewish Institute for National Security of America, a pro-Israel advocacy group.

Writing in the National Interest, Makovsky advocates a strategy that more aggressively challenges Iran. “For instance, the United States could interdict Iranian weapons supplies going through Iraq to Syria and Lebanon by land and air, and by sea to Yemen. It could also threaten Iran that it will shoot down any ballistic or cruise missiles fired by Iran or its proxies, in war or in tests, as a way to stymie its missile development in a way that sanctions clearly are not doing successfully. The same policy could apply to Iranian drones. None of these options requires new boots on the ground, but they do involve a new conception of the use of existing forces.”

ROLL BACK IRAN IN IRAQ: Another JINSA member, retired Marine Lt. Gen. John Toolan, warns against getting in a “tit-for-tat” with Iranian proxies in Iraq, and instead says the U.S. should launch a “concerted effort to roll back Iran’s military presence in the country.”

Toolan, a former commanding general of Marine Corps Pacific Forces, argues the U.S. should not hesitate to threaten targets in Iran or its proxies that threaten to endanger American lives. But writing in RealClear Defense, Toolan also cautions that “kinetic targeting should be the last resort both because they are the most escalatory and their risk to alienate Iraqis.”

But when turning to that option, “the United States should not merely degrade an adversaries’ bases, factories, and arsenals but instead cripple them to prevent their further use.”

Originally published in The Washington Examiner