HomeFeaturesDailyBriefingsRapidReconSpecial ReportsAbout Us

A 'Smarter Way To Target Iran'?

The Washington institute for Near East Policy's Patrick Clawson and Michael Jacobson have weighed in on the potential designation of Iran's IRGC as a terrorist group (wither by Executive Order or State Department inclusion) in The Smarter Way to Target Iran. They make excellent and accurate points. My reservations, nonetheless, can be found here and here.

Some key points from Clawson and Jacobson:
  • In fact, the United States -- unlike Europe -- still has not designated the IRGC entities and officials named in UN Security Council Resolutions 1737 and 1747. (It is ironic that the U.S. government has yet to fully comply with the Security Council resolutions it so strongly advocated.) Designating the IRGC also likely indicates resistance at the UN to American proposals to target the IRGC.
  • The Washington Post stated that the IRGC would be sanctioned under Executive Order (EO) 13224... The New York Times, on the other hand, reported that the IRGC would be listed as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), joining about forty other groups on that list.
  • Contrary to their image as ideological fanatics, Iran's leaders in fact devote much of their efforts to lining their own pockets -- fighting more often and viciously to protect their incomes than their ideas.
  • And, as Mehdi Khalaji showed in PolicyWatch no. 1273, "Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps, Inc.," the IRGC is both the central prop for the Islamic Republic and also a center for corruption, lining its pockets through shady deals and brute force.
  • Before taking unilateral action against the IRGC, the United States should strongly press other countries to join in the designation -- or even to take the lead, if possible.
To the degree that such designations could be effective - and how they may be limited - the above and linked is not a bad initial assessment.

Again, my reservations are not on the potential economic impact to both the IRGC and its regime-directed endeavors (such as rebuilding Hizballah's tunnel infrastructure in Lebanon under the guise of a "$25M reconstruction" gift). My reservations are purely regarding the broader impact of designating a military branch - even a terror-facilitating branch - of a sovereign state - even Iran.

At any rate, it's about time we began to focus on Iran's clear and present terror sponsorship and threat rather than their unmaterialized nuclear weapons.

It's better to debate action rather than to continue to debate inaction on that front. For that, I applaud the move in that regard, criticism or none. That is fundamentally important to keep in perspective during criticism.