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No.1 US priority in Middle East: regime change in Iran

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I offered a more detailed version of this argument in a recent column published on Harvard's Belter Center website. Here are some of the key measures I think are warranted:

• President Obama should make a clear call for the people of Iran to rise up against the regime, not the half-hearted and indirect expressions of support for change expressed so far. This should be combined with a vision of a new and better future for Iran, following regime change, including a rewarding relationship with the United States. Mr. Obama is understandably reticent to issue such a call; an uprising may be crushed brutally. But freedom cannot be won through timidity, and there may never be a better opportunity. US moral leadership is important to Iranian young people who, unlike the regime, are commonly very pro-American and who so deeply hope that the winds of change in the region will sweep Iran as well.

• There should be a major escalation of the sanctions already imposed on Iran over its nuclear program, now to include the repressive character of its regime and the harsh measures it has taken to suppress opposition. Serious sanctions will impact the people of Iran, not just the regime, but such steps are necessary to bring about change. Regime change may be painful, but it will ultimately serve the people of Iran.

• Significant financial and material support should be provided to opposition groups in Iran, directly where appropriate, covertly elsewhere.

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