Newsline

Newsline , Society

Iran’s Presidential Candidates Agree: They Can Handle Biden, But Fear Trump

Posted on Tuesday, July 2, 2024
|
by Walter Samuel
|
16 Comments
|
Print

Last week, Iranian voters went to the polls to choose between six carefully vetted candidates to succeed former President Ebrahim Raisi, who died in a helicopter crash in May. The turnout in the first round of elections, 40 percent, was the lowest in the history of the Islamic Republic, a testament to a loss of faith in a system that is in effect controlled by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. It also was a side effect of a larger feeling of powerlessness. Perhaps that shouldn’t have been a surprise: the man who all six candidates agreed really mattered for the future of Iran was not actually on the ballot.

Even before his triumph over Joe Biden in Thursday’s presidential debate, that Donald Trump would return to the White House was already taken as a given in Iran. While American elites remained in denial as to Joe Biden’s condition and record, our nation’s enemies could not afford that level of complacency.

Mostafa Pourmohammadi, a former intelligence minister contending for the presidency, featured Donald Trump on his posters, saying, “The person who can stand in front of Trump is me.” Mohamad Ghlaibaf, the speaker of Parliament, warned, “When we are facing an enemy like Trump who does not behave with integrity, we have to be calculative in our behavior.”

Former Foreign Minister Javid Zarif, chief adviser to the reformist candidate Masoud Pezeshkian, warned one of the hardliners, “Wait for Trump to come back, and we’ll see what you will do.” Saeed Jalili, who will face Pezeshkian in a runoff next friday after winning 40% to Pezeshkian’s 44%, posted a photo holding posted a photo holding a copy of Trump’s book, Crippled America, and proclaimed at one of his rallies, “Mr. Trump, you gambler, we are the ones who can deal with you.”

The focus of the D.C. establishment and the few figures close to the Biden administration has been to hope that a new Iranian president might change Iran’s policy. That is unlikely given the nature of the system. Even the “reformist” candidate indicated that policy cannot cross lines set by Khamenei.

Rather, the Iranians recognize that the major change will come from Washington, and the reelection of Donald Trump would mean the good times are over.

When Joe Biden first took office, he moved quickly to revert to the Obama administration’s strategy of appeasing Iran in the hope it could replace Saudi Arabia as a major American ally in the region. Biden cut off arms sales to Saudi Arabia, forcing a surrender that left the Houthis in power in Yemen, a perch from which they have proceeded to fire at shipping in the Red Sea.

Biden also sought to restore the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement which provided Iran with billions in sanctions relief in exchange for pretending to slow down its nuclear enrichment program. Biden even appointed Robert Malley, Obama’s envoy, to lead the talks. (Malley’s team was notably stuffed with individuals who appeared to be Iranian intelligence assets.)

In the end, even Malley’s efforts to aid the Mullahs fell victim to the half-hearted approach of the Biden team to every difficult task. Malley was able to get the Mullahs billions, but not a bomb, as discussions on a resumption of the JCPOA floundered amidst Iranian demands that the U.S. make additional concessions as “insurance” in the event Donald Trump returned to office.

The talks now appear to have been quietly dropped, along with Malley’s security clearance. The special envoy was packed off to Princeton, waiting for a new assignment that has yet to arrive, and he was replaced by no one in particular it seems, tasked with pursuing who knows what.

The Iranians seem equally befuddled as to the point of it all, given that the Biden administration decided to flood Tehran with funds despite the lack of a deal. “Reformist” Former Iranian Foreign Minister Javid Zarif gloated about this in an interview, crediting Iran’s economic recovery to the Biden administration’s “lax” enforcement of oil sanctions.

When it comes to Iran, the Biden team cannot even do appeasement properly. Appeasement requires making concessions to a party in the hopes they do something, or at least pretend to do it. Biden has released funds to Iran without demanding concessions on the nuclear program, nor has he forced Iran to cease hostilities toward Israel. Hezbollah’s assaults on northern Israel continue to drive the region toward another war, while the Houthis attack ships in the Gulf.

Most stunningly, the Biden administration has placed little pressure on Tehran to cease supplying Russia with the drones which may have saved Putin from defeat in Ukraine. Meanwhile, the U.S. has fruitlessly attempted to impose pressure on China to cease non-lethal assistance. 

For the Biden administration to claim that Iran’s rulers, of any variety, are negotiating in good faith for a settlement on any of these issues is to practice willful naivety bordering on malice. It is clear, however, that Iran’s leaders are trying to engage with the Biden team, as they did with Obama’s, in a mafia-style extortion racket in which they are willing to accept cash payments to cease bad behavior, occasionally deliberately escalating the malicious actions in order to extort increased sums.

Iran, like Russia and North Korea, has long-term ambitions, but its short-term approach has always relied upon attracting attention. This is why Putin staged provocations in Ukraine, Xi Jinping is making moves in the South China Sea, and Kim Jong Un launches missiles whenever U.S. attention shifts. The idea in each case is that a lack of U.S. interest indicates that American leadership prioritizes peace and quiet elsewhere, and therefore will pay for it.

Donald Trump found a way to break this logjam. He genuinely wanted nothing from Iran other than for it to not interfere with core U.S. interests, and he recognized that the Iranian leaders were men of business, if of a murderously criminal variety. Trump made clear there were lines that Iran must not cross, and by killing Qassim Soleimani, made clear that the consequences for doing so would be personally fatal. Just as the mob learned to steer clear of certain neighborhoods or targets, Iran learned to steer clear of the United States. Donald Trump was speaking in a language Iran’s leaders could understand.

Joe Biden is either too senile or dumb to be able to understand the nature of that relationship. With its prioritization of domestic electoral considerations, the Biden administration created a bidding war of global anarchy. Biden failed to identify a line at which he would switch to use of force, encouraging America’s enemies to continue escalating their aggression.

In the Middle East, that has plunged the region into war that is now set to expand, with Israel poised to invade Lebanon to end Hezbollah attacks on its civilians in the north.

America desperately needs a leader who understands the nature of our adversaries and understands that not every problem can be solved by invasion. Even George W. Bush and Dick Cheney recognized the limitations of that approach, bending over backwards to appease Moscow and Beijing while invading Iraq. That leader must also not have illusions either of good faith or intentions, as Obama did, or believe that America’s enemies can merely be paid to go away, as Biden believes.

Rather, there needs to be someone who understands that the United States must set clear lines while also outlining limited goals. There are things America would love. A democratic Iran allied with Israel would be a dream come true. But America does not need that. America needs an Iran whose leaders understand that if Hezbollah starts a regional war, the Houthis attack American ships, or Iranian controlled militias kill Americans, there will be consequences.

Iranian leaders also need to know that if they give America what we need, then we will give them what they need.

Iranian leaders might love to destroy Israel. They might love to drive the Great Satan out of the Middle East. But at the end of the day, in order to enjoy their ill-gotten gains, they need to remain within the realm of the living. Ultimately, America cares most about what Iran’s leaders do, not who they are. We need a leader who can make that clear.

The Iranians, as usual, are better informed than Joe Biden. They understand that the election which really matters will take place in America in November. They are running to be the one to negotiate with Donald Trump. If they face Joe Biden or the second coming of Barack Obama, they know that there is no point in talks. Any one of them could take candy from a baby.

Walter Samuel is the pseudonym of a prolific international affairs writer and academic. He has worked in Washington as well as in London and Asia, and holds a Doctorate in International History.

We hope you've enjoyed this article. While you're here, we have a small favor to ask...

The AMAC Action Logo

Support AMAC Action. Our 501 (C)(4) advances initiatives on Capitol Hill, in the state legislatures, and at the local level to protect American values, free speech, the exercise of religion, equality of opportunity, sanctity of life, and the rule of law.

Donate Now
Share this article:
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
16 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Ray Doyle LFP, WA
Ray Doyle LFP, WA
11 days ago

this is exactly what everyone has been saying!

the reason all of the wars broke out is because no one is afraid of Biden or his stupid administration. they laugh are Kerry (lurch), Gore (an inconvenient idiot), Yellen (lack of financial knowledge), Buttingay (everything is racist), and the energy secretary is wasn’t.

The entire world knows that these dmeocrats are fools. they believe in foolish things. they are willing to let people rob them blind and thank them for being robbed. Other countries knwo that throwing a million bucks at them will allow the country to take anything they want from america.

The democrats, and biden, have been a disaster for america, but a payday for the rest of the world.

Robert Zuccaro
Robert Zuccaro
11 days ago

The little twit trolls wake up earlier to do their jobs even before the senile old boomer they defend, don’t they? Be funny if all of them are just Jill sticking up for her meal ticket, wouldn’t it?

Max
Max
11 days ago

Overall, Iran authorities do fear Trump and they will lay back and continue to support their many tentacles in the Middle East and rest of the world from behind the scenes until the US votes in another inept leader that will blindly follow the rest of Obama’s agenda.

Joe
Joe
11 days ago

I’ll take a president who deals with Iran without integrity over a feckless imposter occupant of the White House who craps his pants and sends money to a terrorist nation to appease its leaders.

Theresa Coughlin
Theresa Coughlin
11 days ago

Iran’s presidential candidates claiming that they “fear Trump” and “can handle Biden” are even more reasons to vote Biden out of office and vote Trump in.

uncleferd
uncleferd
11 days ago

Liberals’ collective opinion of Donald Trump, or ANY leader, is, to a very large degree, determined by how many free handouts they credit him with providing… as opposed to people who are mature, responsible, and American, who favor less money wasted, and a robust economy for them to use to their advantage.
I don’t want my tax dollars spent on some liberal’s crack cocaine budget. They can’t think effectively as it is…… so they don’t need additional complications that force me to pay for their hospitalization and subsequ- ent rehab.

anna hubert
anna hubert
11 days ago

They can handle Biden but fear Trump That describes the situation perfectly One sentence

ppuck64
ppuck64
11 days ago

The President of the United States does not need to be “handled;” he (or she) needs to be respected. Fear is a close cousin of respect. European world leaders know that Trump is a bit of a wild card and is hard to anticipate, and he keeps them a little off-balance, whereas Biden can be counted on to act in a certain way, and so can be “handled”.

John
John
10 days ago

Iran should have been nuked back when the other completely useless President Carter was in office, another bumbling fool of a Democrat.They should damn well be afraid of Trump who isn’t going to stand for any of there terrorist behavior.The money train will END and maybe the Iranian people will dispose of the teal enemy’s that are there government.

james carlyle
james carlyle
10 days ago

Great assessment of both Biden and the Iran gang.

John Shipway
John Shipway
11 days ago

No wonder this scribbler uses a fake name when submitting his drivel. I suppose the man, if that what he/it is, has fantasies of being a sort of journalist. I guess by CNN or MSNBC standards, he/it is.
Perhaps the most laughable lie the creature posts regards the Iranians rescuing Russia from defeat at the hands of the Nazi puppet regime in Ukraine by supplying the supposedly clueless Russians with their drones and not being punished for it by his one true God, the tyrannical dying hegemon called America,
Just keep telling yourself Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms Samuel that Russia really is just a gas station masquerading as a country and that without Iranian drones, of which in reality Russia merely purchased the rights to build one type of drone designed by Iran and not floods of the actual drones themselves, would have never kicked the collective backsides of the corrupt NATO countries for some 2.5 years now.
And cats really can fly.

Secret Service agents rush Donald Trump off the stage.(AP: Evan Vucci)
President Joe Biden greets President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping, Wednesday, November 15, 2023, at the Filoli Estate in Woodside, California.(Official White House Photo by Carlos Fyfe)
President Joe Biden speaks on the phone with Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to discuss his approval of a FEMA disaster declaration in response to the impacts of Hurricane Beryl, Tuesday, July 9, 2024, in the Oval Office of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

Stay informed! Subscribe to our Daily Newsletter.

"*" indicates required fields

16
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x

Subscribe to AMAC Daily News and Games