John Lee: Iran lobby coming to defense of Iran appeasement policy supporters

congressThe Iran lobby, especially the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), has come out in force to defend from mounting criticism government employees who supported and shaped the Obama administration’s policy of appeasing the Iranian regime as part of the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

One example of this was in a Politico story by Nahal Toosi and Andrew Restuccia that attempted to couch the criticism of certain State Department employees as some kind of loyalty litmus test for serving in the Trump administration, going so far as to try and connect conservative media such as Breitbart News as circulating some sort of “enemies” list.

What Toosi and Restuccia neglect to mention is that every incoming president has the right and authority to make his own appointments and shape whatever policies he sees fit to implement. If federal employees feel obliged to oppose or object to such policies, they are free to leave federal service, seek a transfer or alter their mindset to do the people’s work and carry out the new president’s policies to the best of their ability.

It is the central conceit of presidential power that every president—both Democrat and Republican—has exercised, some with vigor as when incoming Attorney General Janet Reno summarily fired all serving U.S. Attorneys across the country in one fell swoop at the start of the Bill Clinton administration.

If some State Department employees harbor reservations about President Trump’s views and policies regarding the Iranian regime, especially the sustainability of a badly flawed nuclear deal, they should frankly resign rather than work at cross purposes to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s goals.

President Trump has made it no secret of his concerns over the Iran nuclear deal and the threat Iran poses both regionally and globally through its network of terrorist proxies and military actions in places in Syria and Yemen that have severely destabilized the region.

The president deserves the opportunity to have a team in place that supports a vision of restraining the mullahs in Tehran and pushing for democratic and human rights reforms in Iran.

The fact that Toosi and Restuccia quote NIAC’s Trita Parsi and his customary denials about his ties to the Iranian regime, without any references to the extensive reporting about those ties, including court documents arising from a libel suit Parsi lost, demonstrates the agenda to defend Iranian regime sympathizers without regard to the context of the changes being made by the new administration.

Specifically their story mentions the case of Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, a former NIAC staffer who worked at the National Security Council to shape Iran policy under President Obama and is now serving in a similar capacity under Tillerson. The fact that she helped create a badly flawed strategy two years ago that President Trump himself has roundly criticized should not disqualify her from criticism. Why then is there an outcry when she comes under scrutiny?

If we never held civil servants accountable for mistakes then by Parsi’s logic we should excuse every police officer who shoots a black man or every meat inspector who overlooks a case of food poisoning. It is the height of absurdity to think that federal employees are immune from any and all criticism.

It is an American birthright to criticize government employees and we do it with gusto every time we wait in line at the local DMV. Trying to portray Nowrouzzadeh and other supporters of an Iran appeasement policy don’t get a free pass and continue to serve on the public dole.

The proper question for employees such as Nowrouzzadeh is whether or not they would have any problems enacting a policy of confronting the Iranian regime and placing human rights at the top of the policy agenda for the U.S. and holding the regime accountable here on out. If the answer is no then change is demanded.

One prime example of that has been the verified Twitter account for Alan Eyre, a high-ranking State Department official known for his pro-Tehran, anti-Israel biases — and a key component of the Iran nuclear deal’s negotiating team—where he has been reposting articles attacking President Trump, the man who he ultimately answers to, according to Conservative Review.

Under the Obama administration, Alan Eyre served as the State Department’s Persian language spokesperson. According to reports, he played a critical role in advancing the Iran nuclear deal. He also participated as a keynote speaker twice at the NIAC’s annual conference.

If supporting this president’s policies are objectionable to them, and then they should ply their trade at the innumerable number of think tanks, policy forums and universities that would welcome them.

We suspect the NIAC would be delighted to offer policy positions for each of these State Department employees and we encourage their transition to the private sector. We would welcome some literary diversity after reading the same policy papers from Parsi, Reza Marashi, Ryan Costello and Tyler Cullis ad nauseam.

John Lee is a foreign policy and national security expert and has written extensively on Middle Eastern affairs.

 
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