Feb. 11, 2019
Don’t Make the Mistake of Dismissing Iran’s Ideology – Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair (Washington Post)
Hopes that the 2015 nuclear deal would lead the Tehran regime to moderate its behavior have proved misplaced. The ayatollahs may have kept to the letter of the deal, but they have intensified their malign policies around the region. Where Israel is concerned, they implacably oppose not only government policy but also the country’s very existence.
This hatred of Israel is not confined to the clerics. It is also the declared position of figures that the West has misidentified as “moderate.” So it is misguided to see Iran as following the principles of realpolitik. It is ultimately defending and where possible extending ideological interests. The ideology is driven by a belief that religion should be converted into a political system of government. Such a worldview necessarily becomes totalitarian.
This politicization of religion is the bane of the Middle East. In a world where economies succeed by being open, and countries prosper by being open-minded, such a view of religion divides people, misdirects political energy and causes extremism.
Where Iran is exercising military interference, it should be strongly pushed back. Where it is seeking influence, it should be countered. Where its proxies operate, it should be held responsible. Where its networks exist, they should be disrupted. Where its leaders are saying what is unacceptable, they should be exposed. Where the Iranian people are protesting for freedom, they should be supported.
Forty years of disappointment should make us clear-eyed. The revolution has made Iran the single biggest destabilizing force in the Middle East. Ultimately the Iranian people will find a way to the future without this outdated theocracy.