The Trump Administration and Sovietization of the Islamic Republic of Iran:
How and Why?
It seems the administration of the US president, Donald Trump, pursues the strategy of exerting “maximum pressure” on Iran to achieve the goal of the Sovietization of Islamic Republic. In doing this, the incumbent US administration is trying to take advantage of experiences gained by the administration of former US president, Ronald Reagan, in its faceoff with the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1991. According to findings of this research, the theoretical backbone supporting this project is comprised of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and some other rightwing and conservative American think tanks, including the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute. The US Department of State constitutes the executive arm of this project in addition to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which have currently turned into playgrounds for such conservative figures as US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo; the current head of the Iran Action Group, Brian Hook; and the Trump administration’s national security advisor, John Bolton. Based on this project, the overthrow of the “Islamic Republic” or a simple change of the political regime governing Iran is not sufficient and the main goal is to bring about the total collapse of the “Islamic Republic of Iran” and there is no guarantee for the success of this strategy and after occurrence, it will cause serious conditions.
Keywords: the Trump Administration, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Maximum Pressure, Sovietization, Collapse.
Following the election of Donald Trump as the new president of the United States and in parallel to a renewed rise in power of neoconservative and neo-Reaganite figures in the White House, some institutes and foundations have also become more active. These institutions and foundations are major think tanks, which produce ideas related to the matters of the United States foreign policy, which is to advise the White House. At the same time, they are trying to head a new direction for the US foreign policy, especially with regard to Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea. One of these think tanks is the FDD, based in Washington, DC,has a long and striking record in opposing the nuclear deal with Iran, (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA)), and additionally, a staunch advocate of US withdrawal from the nuclear deal. This foundation, which has also recruited certain people among radical Iranian opposition groups, has been one of the main architects of the economic war and so-called “crippling” sanctions against Iran. The contents of the FDD’s website with regard to Iran show that the ulterior and final goal of this foundation is an all-out politico-economic and psychological warfare against Iran and to bring about total implosion of the Islamic Republic of Iran through banking based on the experiences which is gained by the collapse of the former Soviet Union. In other words, the desirable goal followed by these neoconservative and neo-Reaganite figures is to make the Iranian government vulnerable and to create a failed state in the country, which may even lead to lose the territorial integrity of Iran due to its multiethnic nature. Of course, this project entered its practical phase through Trump's announcement of the US withdrawal from the JCPOA. However, it also represents conflicts and strategic mistakes of the United States toward Iran, which can make the realization of this project impossible or very difficult.
The main hypothesis of this paper is that the goal of Trump administration, which is explained before,is to cause Sovietization of the Iranian government by taking advantage of experiences gained by the Reagan administration against the Soviet Union and its collapse during the later years of the Cold War period. The main theoretical current that backs this project is FDD and some other rightwing and conservative American think tanks, including the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute, which are mostly leftovers from the administrations of George H. W. Bush and his son George W. Bush. The US Department of State constitutes the executive of this project in addition to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which have currently turned into playgrounds for conservative figures such as US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo; the current head of the Iran Action Group, Brian Hook; and the Trump administration’s national security advisor, John Bolton. There is a difference between simple regime change and the overthrow of a political system, on the one hand, and the collapse of a country, on the other. The difference is following such a collapse, the political system of the country in question could be apparently preserved, but that country would go broke in all sectors, especially in economic and social sectors, and could even lose its territorial integrity. As a result, that country would lose the possibility of playing an active role and showing off its transnational power for a long time and would not be able to serve as a source of inspiration and a role model for other groups or countries in its region, while also being unable to support its own allies. Although, a political system change does not necessarily lead to restriction of its power and transnational activities and it is possible for the target country to reproduce its power and transnational activities.
The first ambiguity about this project is what is the main purpose of collapse and at what level is it going to take place? Will it be like the collapse of the Soviet Union as a nation-state? A collapse like the termination of the Marxist ideology? Would it be like the collapse of the Soviet Union as an empire of many satellite states in various parts of the world, including Asia and Europe? On the other hand, does it simply mean the collapse of the Soviet Union as a model of the political system and an ideological role model for other systems of government and countries? When talking about the collapse of the Soviet Union, the main purpose is a collection of all these forms of collapse, which led to the implosion of the Soviet Union as a superpower. In addition, when we talk about the Sovietization of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the main purpose is a combination of all these forms of collapse. It means the collapse of the Islamic Republic as a political system; as a nation-state; as a role model; and also for the demise of an ideology, which gives birth to a Islamic establishment and supported by the Islamic Republic, and can be described as “Islam as a school of thought”.
The second ambiguity, which must be addressed here, is when we talk about “Sovietization”, we are naturally referring to some sort of project. Nevertheless, was the collapse of the Soviet Union only a project and internal factors of the Soviet Union’s communist system had nothing to do with it? In other words, in the absence of this project, was not there any kind of endogenous process that its continuation would logically lead to the collapse of the Soviet Union? To answer this question, it must be noted that there is no possible existence of a process in the collapse of the Soviet Union as a project. On the contrary, these two issues has complementary relationship, because without any doubt, if there were no suitable domestic grounds, no foreign conspiracy could have been implemented and succeeded. Adding “-ization” to “Sovietization” is for this purpose and is an effort to provide some constructivist understanding of this phenomenon. This will help us delineate interactions between “project and process” as well as “domestic and foreign” factors involved in this issue, and highlight the constructivist nature of this process. At the same time, some evidences prove that the collapse of the Soviet Union has occurred through a project. Within this framework, the main factor in this project is the “role played by the rival superpower.” Even those internal factors, which facilitated the collapse of the Soviet Union, could be better understood in relation to the Soviet Union’s rivalry with the United States.
The present paper will first focuses on the history of the Sovietization project regarding to the Islamic Republic of Iran. In the next step, various dimensions of this project under the supervision of Trump administration will be set to show that this administration is serious about carrying out this plot against the Islamic Republic of Iran and believes that the time has arrived to make this project happen. The following section of the paper discusses the reasons behind the Sovietization plot relevant to the Islamic Republic of Iran. In other words, what similarities may convince the enemy’s think tanks to apply the same model against Islamic Republic of Iran? The next section investigates about identifying and exploring the general trend of this project and comparing it to the present conditions of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The final part of the paper explains the reasons of why this project will fail in Iran and also, it produces some available solutions for the Islamic Republic of Iran to thwart and fail this project.
- Sovietization: An Old Project
When Iran's former president, Mohammad Khatami, was elected as the president, there were discussions related to the possibility of a collapse against Islamic Republic of Iran similar to that of Soviet Union and comparisons were made between Iran's new president and the last leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, during the time that the Soviet Union fell apart. Subsequently, the leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, remarked in a meeting with Iranian government officials on July 3, 2000, that “a comprehensive American plan was arranged for the collapse of the Islamic Republic establishment and all its aspects were thought about. This plan was built based on what took place during the fall of the Soviet Union to perform the same plan opposing Iran…. This American or Western plan – regardless of how we interpret it – was not a military plan. In the first place, it was a media plan, which was executed mostly by means of boards, placards, newspapers, films and so forth. If someone calculated the odds, they would see that about fifty or sixty percent of it was related to the impact of media and other cultural tools Political and economic factors were in the second place. Nevertheless, there was no role for the military factor at all.”
When Hassan Rouhani was elected as the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, this issue was once again brought up. For example, Natan Sharansky, the first political prisoner in the Soviet Union, who was released by Gorbachev under Reagan’s pressure and also a Jewish politician who headed the Jewish Agency as Executive Chairman from June 2009 to August 2018, wrote a column titled “Is Rouhani the New Gorbachev?” for the Wall Street Journal in November 2013. In that article, he compared the current situation of Iran with the situation of the Soviet Union under Gorbachev’s leadership. Explaining the way the West chose to treat Gorbachev, he noted, “As they treat with Iran today, the economic and political crises in the Soviet Union was real; so was the pressure exerted on the system from both within and without.” Under these conditions, he argued, instead of reducing pressures on the Islamic Republic of Iran, those pressures must be increased, just in the same way that Ronald Reagan was not deceived by the Soviet leaders’ change of tone and continued to pile pressure on Moscow. Consequently, the so-called “Evil Empire” fell apart four years later without the United States having to fire even a single shot. In fact, Sharansky (2013) was of the opinion that a change of tone among the Soviet leaders was not the result of a fundamental change in their policies and behavior, but was a tactical measure by the Communist party to remain in power within the country while maintaining its superpower position outside its borders. He lauded Reagan and said European leaders and politicians were influenced by this change and called for mutual confidence-building and reduction of tensions through economic sanctions against the Soviet Union in return for an immediate halt to missile defense programs such as the “strategic defense initiative.” Reagan, however, made it clear that giving any concession to the Soviet Union was conditioned on the implementation of “verifiable reforms.” Sharansky (2013) continues by arguing that just in the same way that the West mounted pressure on Gorbachev, which led to the final collapse of the Soviet Union, instead of reducing sanctions, more pressure must be piled on Iran in order to help Rouhani becomes another Gorbachev. In fact, in his opinion, Rouhani does not want to play this role, just in the same way that Gorbachev did not want to, but the West, topped by the United States, can exert more pressure and bring about conditions that Rouhani would have to play the same role. Sharansky (2013) writes, “Yet here we are again. Today, the Iranian economy is on the verge of bankruptcy. Today Iranian dissidents are rotting in prison by the hundreds or thousands, while a restive populace continues to writhe under the tyrannous yoke of a regime that has abandoned none of its aggressive aims, none of its terrorist machinations, none of its genocidal intentions. Is the Free World, led by Washington, so fixated on a short-term deal with the latest media-hyped dictator as to miss altogether the real opportunity held out by the present moment?
Can Rouhani be the new Gorbachev? Hardly. But if it will happen, it can only happen if we help him as we helped Mr. Gorbachev—if, by fidelity to our principles and by steady, determined statesmanship, we help him to eliminate himself, his regime, and the evil they have visited upon their people and set loose in the world around them.”
Meanwhile, France’s traditionally rightist newspaper, Le Figaro, published an article in September 2013, which was written by the newspaper’s correspondent in Washington, Laure Mandeville. The subject of the article was a willingness of both the Islamic Republic and the United States to engage in mutual dialogue and negotiations with the goal of resolving problems that existed between the two countries. In her article, Mandeville (2013) referred to a column written by Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani before his first trip to take part in the United Nations General Assembly’s annual session in New York. Rouhani’s article appeared in the Washington Post and Mandeville (2013) brought examples of his words in which the Iranian president clearly urged leaders of the world “to seize the opportunity.” In fact, he addressed the world’s political leaders, urging them “to make the most of the mandate for prudent engagement that my people have given me.” Elsewhere in her article, Mandeville claimed that this period and the position of Rouhani both were reminiscent of the time and position of Mikhail Gorbachev during the 1980s in the former Soviet Union. She wrote that when Gorbachev rose to power, the administration of Ronald Reagan was both suspicious and hopeful, but it later transpired that the opening in the Soviet Union’s policy was real and it finally led to the fall of the Berlin Wall. In fact, Mandeville was calling on the West to pay attention to the fact that Hassan Rouhani could be Iran’s Gorbachev.
- The Idea of Sovietization of the Islamic Republic under Trump’s Administration
After Trump was elected president with the promise of all-out confrontation with the Islamic Republic of Iran, the issue of taking advantage of the Reagan administration’s experience in dealing with the Soviet Union and creating similar conditions in the matter of the Islamic Republic of Iran came to the fore more than ever before. The ultimate goal was to bring about the collapse of the Islamic Republic. In line with this idea and for the first time, Michael McFaul and Abbas Milani , both professors and researchers at Stanford University, wrote a paper titled “Reading Reagan in Tehran: A Strategy of Realistic Engagement” in late 2016, which was published in The Washington Quarterly. McFaul and Milani (2016) advised the Trump administration to take a Reaganite approach to the Islamic Republic of Iran, noting that between a continuation of the Obama administration’s policy and a return to confrontation, there was a third option available: the Reagan path. They explained that Trump did not have to follow Reagan’s devastating approach to Iran in its totality, but his successful policy toward the Soviet Union in the years that led to the rise of Gorbachev must be followed. They explained that George P. Shultz, who was the Reagan administration’s secretary of state after 1982, had described his administration’s approach to the Soviet Union as realistic engagement. The authors explained that before the time Shultz became Reagan’s secretary of state, both Reagan and his national security team insisted that any interaction and reduction of tensions with the Soviet Union must be rejected. Instead, they called for confrontation and isolation of the “Evil Empire,” in order to pile pressure on it and bring about regime change. However, after Shultz joined the Reagan administration, that strategy changed. The authors then explained that pressure remained as a vital aspect of this strategy, but the Reagan administration kept a commitment for direct engagement of the Soviet Union through dialogue on a range of issues well beyond simple arms control treaties. In conclusion, they advised the Trump administration to adopt an approach similar to the realistic engagement to Iran over a wide range of issues.
It is noteworthy that the main role in promoting the idea of Sovietization of Iran under the Trump administration has been played by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), especially by its chief executive officer, Mark Dubowitz, and another one of the institute’s researchers, Reuel Marc Gerecht. The Foundation for Defense of Democracies is a radical and neoconservative institute, which was established in 2001 and openly advised various US administrations to adopt a policy of changing regimes that are opposed to the government of the United States of America. Up to the present time, the institute’s strongest focus has been on the Islamic Republic of Iran and has been unwaveringly supporting regime change in Iran, as a solution to the country’s various problems, including its nuclear issue. In order to achieve this goal, it has been recommending the model applied to the Soviet Union.
For example, Ledeen (2015), one of the famous researchers working with this institute, wrote an article in January 2015 at a time that Iran and big global powers were negotiating to achieve a nuclear agreement. He wrote, “I think that sort of non-violent regime change is possible in Iran — and elsewhere — today. It is quite amazing how rapidly the world can be changed for the better once the United States begins to move. Indeed, we have seen that in reverse with this president, have not we? It works both ways. In addition, the chances for successful regime change in Iran are considerably better than they were in Gorbachev’s Soviet Empire in the ’80s. The percentage of Iranian citizens ready to demonstrate their opposition to Ayatollah Khamenei is much higher than Soviet citizens' back when, and the Iranian regime is considerably weaker. The Soviet Union was a superpower, Iran is not. The USSR had nukes and a big army. Not so the Islamic Republic.”
In a similar manner, Benjamin Weinthal, a member of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, wrote an article in the Jerusalem Post in September 2015, titled “Still hope for regime change in Iran.” There he wrote, “Yet a new US administration in 2016 could replicate a version of former president Ronald Reagan’s regime-change posture for the now-defunct Soviet Union and impose it on Iran.”
Nonetheless, after the election of Trump, the FDD put an even more prominent emphasis on the need to use Reagan’s experience versus the Soviet Union to counter Iran. Researchers of the foundation released many policy papers in 2017 and 2018 all of which highlighted the possibility of taking advantage of Reagan’s experience in the face of the Soviet Union to counter Iran. Five days after Trump was inaugurated and sworn in at the White House, Clifford May, the president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, wrote a column for the New York Times titled “Defending the Civilized World.” In that article, he urged Trump to take advantage of Ronald Reagan's experience and model in dealing with the communist Soviet Union and apply it to what he called the “radical Islam.” He also described Iran as part of the radical Islam and claimed that the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Islamic State of Daesh were more similar to each other than being different. Weinthal (2015) stated “Fast forward to 1983, when President Ronald Reagan concluded that containment had proven insufficient and attempts at detente unavailing. He accused his predecessor, President Jimmy Carter, of ‘vacillation, appeasement, and aimlessness’. To the disapproval of many academics and State Department officials, Mr. Reagan would call the Soviet Union an ‘evil empire’ and exert pressure — diplomatic, political, military, ideological and, not least, economic — on a regime that was not as strong or stable as it seemed, the CIA included. On Dec. 25, 1991, three years after Reagan left office, the hammer-and-sickle flag that had flown over Moscow since early 20th century would be lowered for the final time. In retrospect, it may appear that the defeat of communism was inevitable. More plausibly, it was the result of Reagan’s revival of national strength and purpose — combined with solid research, analysis and, above all, strategic planning.”
Later on, Mark Dubowitz, the CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, wrote a note in March 2017 entitled “The Delusion of the Iran Nuclear Deal”. Dubowitz (2017) stated in this article that besides attacking the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, First,Mr. Trump must address the Iranian threat the way Ronald Reagan treated the Soviet one. In the early 1980s, Reagan instructed his National Security Council to develop a comprehensive assault to undermine the Soviet Union. The Trump NSC needs a similar plan, one that uses both covert and overt economic, financial, political, diplomatic, cyber and military power to subvert and roll back the Iranian threat... Mr. Trump should create the distinct impression that America will help the millions of Iranians who despise the regime to push it over that edge. Second, the Trump administration, with an assist from Congress, needs to renovate the sanctions regime aimed at Iran’s support for terrorism, ballistic-missile development, human-rights abuses, war crimes, and destabilizing activities in the Middle East. These sanctions need to target, in particular, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, which controls strategic areas of Iran’s economy.”
In April 2017, Reuel Marc Gerecht, a researcher with the FDD, wrote an article with Ray Takeyh, a senior researcher with the Council on Foreign Relations, which was published in the Washington Post. Gerecht AND Takeyh (2017) wroteA consensus has developed in Washington for some ‘push back’ against the Islamic Republic of Iran. Democrats and Republicans would be well advised to learn from the Cold War: Do not compromise the battle on the ground for fear of compromising arms control. We should contain and roll back Iran and its growing army of proxy militias. We should target the clerical regime’s Achilles’ heel — popular disgust with theocracy. Human rights ought to be a priority for American Iran policy…. Today, the Islamist regime resembles the Soviet Union of the 1970s — an exhausted entity incapable of reforming itself while drowning in corruption and bent on costly imperialism. If Washington were serious about doing to Iran what it helped to do to the USSR, it would seek to weaken the theocracy by pressing it on all fronts…. Many in Washington in 1980 thought the Soviet Union was far from the dustbin. We would do well not to believe that the mullahs have a more secure dispensation.”
Dubowitz (2017) noted that Iran is on its way toward possessing nuclear weapons “unless we adopt a new strategy.” he believed that Trump should take a page from the playbook Ronald Reagan used against the Soviet Union. He also stated, “In the early 1980s, President Reagan shifted away from his predecessors’ containment strategy toward a new plan of rolling back Soviet expansionism. The cornerstone of his strategy was the recognition that the Soviet Union was an aggressive and revolutionary yet internally fragile regime that had to be defeated., He pointed to Reagan’s policy, which was outlined in 1983 in National Security Decision Directive 75, and he said it was a “omprehensive strategy that called for the use of all instruments of American overt and covert power. He added, “The plan included a massive defense buildup, economic warfare, support for anti-Soviet proxy forces and dissidents, and an all-out offensive against the regime’s ideological legitimacy.” He said that Trump “should call for a new version of NSDD-75 and go on offense against the Iranian regime. The administration would be wise to address every aspect of the Iranian menace, not merely the nuclear program. President Obama’s myopic focus on disarmament paralyzed American policy.” The chief executive officer of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies then pointed to what he called a “deeply flawed nuclear accord” with Iran, advising the Trump administration “a new national security directive must systemically dismantle Iranian power country by country in the Middle East. Washington should demolish the Iranian regime’s terrorist networks and influence operations…. All of Washington’s actions to push back against Tehran hinge on severely weakening the Iranian regime’s finances. Robust measures should target the regime’s praetorians, Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, a dominant force in Iran’s economy…. Finally, yet importantly, the American pressure campaign should seek to undermine Iran’s rulers by strengthening the pro-democracy forces that erupted in Iran in 2009, nearly toppling the regime. Target the regime’s soft underbelly: its massive corruption and human rights abuses. Conventional wisdom assumes that Iran has a stable government with a public united behind President Hassan Rouhani’s vision of incremental reform. In reality, the gap between the ruled and their Islamist rulers is expanding.”He argued, “The odds that a moderate government will emerge in Tehran before the nuclear deal’s restrictions expire are poor,” noting, “Washington needs to block the Islamic Republic’s pathways to gaining nuclear-tipped missiles. While aggressively enforcing the nuclear agreement, the administration should present revised terms for a follow-on deal. These must address the current accord’s fundamental flaws, including the sunset provisions that give Tehran a clear pathway to nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them, and the inadequate access to Iranian military sites that blocks effective verification.”
What said above makes it clear that Dubowitz believed “the [Trump] administration should present Iran the choice between a new agreement and an unrelenting American pressure campaign.” He concluded his article by saying, “Only six years after Ronald Reagan adopted his pressure strategy, the Soviet Bloc collapsed. Washington must intensify the pressure on the mullahs as Reagan did on the communists. Otherwise, a lethal nuclear Iran is less than a decade away.”
Dubowitz also took part in a meeting hosted by the Heritage Foundation in late August 2017, titled “Iran's Nuclear, Regional and Proxy Challenges,” in which the participants focused on the Iran issue and how to deal with it. There, he clearly said that what Reagan did to communists in the Soviet Union, Donald Trump should do to “Iranian mullahs.” He added, “I think we need to move away from the same myopic focus on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the Iran deal that the Obama administration reached, and we need to move to an Iran policy and Iran NSDD 75 (National Security Decision Directive 75, which was issued by the Reagan administration for dealing with the Soviet Union) where the Trump administration uses all instruments of American power again to neutralize and roll back Iranian regional influence and Iranian global influence and hit it at some of the same areas that President Reagan hit at [when dealing with the Soviet Union].” During the same meeting, Dubowitz once again warned about the consequences of not countering Iran, saying, “In about ten years’ time, Iran will have, thanks to this deal, an industrial-size nuclear program…. Advanced centrifuges will power that program…. Iran will have ICBMs, and have [a booming] economy … and Iran will have … increasing regional hegemony.”
Gerecht and Takeyh (2017) claimed that the regime of Iran resembled the Soviet Union in its final days. Referring to political developments that took place following the Islamic Revolution in Iran, they reached the conclusion that the Islamic Republic of Iran has proven that it is not capable of reforming itself. They also wrote that the basis for efficiency and religious legitimacy of the Islamic Republic of Iran has been weakened as a result of which, the Iranian government has had to make an effort to survive through focusing on fighting imperialism and patronage, just in the same way that the Soviet Union did in the 1970s. They went on to claim that the current leadership of Iran, as the most successful example of modern Persian imperialism, has raised Iran's flag from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean. However, they noted, imperialism is costly and financing Shia militias in the region is weighing down on Iran's state coffers. They also pointed to the experience of former US presidents, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, in countering the Soviet Union. They said that while Jimmy Carter and the majority of the Democrat party sought peaceful coexistence with the Soviet Union, Ronald Reagan helped catalyze the collapse of the communist party by waging an economic war, supporting the opposition and limiting the Soviet Union’s imperialist borders. They advised Trump to follow suit with Reagan’s model while distancing from that of Carter. They argued that the United States must establish closer contacts with opposition organizations in Iran and fund them. Gerecht and Takeyh then advised Trump to learn from Reagan's model and talk directly to the Iranian people while criticizing their illegitimate regime. They noted that Washington must reinstate crippling sanctions in order to counter the network that supports Iranian “mullahs” and is essential to maintaining their power. They concluded by saying that this formula, which had already spelled the doom of the powerful empire of the Soviet Union, would certainly lead to the fall of the Iranian leader, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, and the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps.
Richard Goldberg, a member of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and Dennis Ross, special assistant to President Obama and member of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, wrote an article in January 2018and advised the Trump administration to adopt Reagan's model toward the Islamic Republic of Iran. They believe that this basic idea can be credited to President Ronald Reagan, who successfully negotiated a major arms control agreement with the Soviet Union – all while publicly calling it an “evil empire,” building up America’s strategic deterrence, promoting regime change and applying economic pressure tied to the Soviet record on human rights.” It is notable that Goldberg has been recently appointed by Trump's national security advisor, John Bolton, as “Director for Countering Iranian Weapons of Mass Destruction at the National Security Council.”The appointment was warmly welcomed by all those political circles and figures, who are known to be staunch supporters of Sovietization of Iran.
Gerecht (2018) raised stern criticism of “many debilitating weaknesses of the JCPOA” for the United States and the opportunities it had offered the Islamic Republic of Iran. He, however, argued that “yet it isn’t that hard to devise a credible post-JCPOA approach to the clerical regime.” He said that the approach of America to the Soviet Union can be used as a model: contain, rollback, and squeeze. The Islamic Republic now is similar to the Soviet Union of 1979, in police state, incapablity of reforming itself while drowning in corruption and economic ineptitude, expanding abroad to protect the nation and its ‘faith’. Therefore, it is our time, not thiers. America is the stronger party and we can crack the regime. The contradictions that gnaw at the mind, heart, and muscles of the clerical regime are as great as those that debilitated the Soviet Union. Most Democrats and some Republicans went soft by the end of the Cold War and they wanted détente and cohabitation. However, the hawks like Reagan and Henry ‘Scoop’ Jackson won that struggle, not Henry Kissinger and the Carterites.
Other members of the FDD have also emphasized in other papers and articles that Reagan's approach and experience in dealing with the Soviet Union should be used to counter the Islamic Republic of Iran. Gerecht and Takeyh (2017) have clearly recommended regime change in Iran even using force, noting that it must be clear for Trump and his administration that regime change is the sole pragmatic solution available to them concerning Iran unless they are ready to accept a nuclear-armed Iran. He also noted that if the Trump administration is ready for military action against Iran, it must put serious effort into instigating more insurgency inside the country.
Overall, ideas proposed by members of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, especially its CEO, Mark Dubowitz, with regard to the Islamic Republic of Iran have played a prominent role in configuring Trump's policy toward Iran. A former US official who worked on Iran policy under Trump has been quoted “If you want to know what’s going to happen next in Iran policy, there’s a pretty good bet that it’s whatever has been in the latest Mark Dubowitz or FDD op-ed.”Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson (2018), former chief of staff to United States Secretary of State Colin Powell, not only has accepted his mistake in helping launch the war against Iraq but has added that the FDD is now working as “Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans” more than any time before. It is noteworthy that Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans has been known to be providing wrong intelligence in support of launching a war with Iraq. The FDD has been the main source of “theoretical firepower” against the JCPOA, both before and after conclusion of this deal, and its members have played a pioneering role in attacking the JCPOA, not only through writing various papers and op-eds but also via extensive presence at the US Congress hearings. Therefore, it is widely believed that FDD has played a very essential role in convincing the Trump administration to quit the JCPOA.
Many slogans, arguments and even measures taken by Trump related to Iran, both during his presidential campaigning and after taking office at the White House, were first put forth by researchers of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Even many words and concepts applied to the Islamic Republic of Iran and the nuclear deal by Trump and some officials in his administration have been first presented and introduced by this foundation. It is famous that Mark Dubowitz helps Brian Hook, who heads the Iran Action Group, writes his reports on Iran and he also advises many figures who are staunch opponents of the nuclear deal at the Capitol Hill, which is the seat of the US Congress. Mark Dubowitz has been promoting the book titled “Victory: The Reagan Administration's Secret Strategy that Hastened the Collapse of the Soviet Union,” for more than two years, and has sent copies of this book to others, especially senior officials of the Trump administration.
Dubowitz said that Pompeo gave him a copy of a book, when he was heading the CIA which Pompeo has avidly read it and recommended it to his colleagues both at the CIA and later at the Department of State. Explaining this book, Dubowitz stated that this extraordinary book contains many details most of which can be used against the Iranian regime. This book was written by Peter Schweizer (1994), favorite author of Steve Bannon, Trump's former White House chief strategist. Schweizer explains the efforts made by Reagan and his CIA director, William Casey, who used all instruments of American power, save for direct military action, to sweep the Soviet Union into the “dustbin of history,” as Reagan said in a speech before the British parliament in 1982. The strategy emphasized by Schweizer included Reagan's economic war against the Soviet Union, which is now being employed by the new US administration against Iran through the imposition of paralyzing sanctions. Schweizer (1994) pertained to mostly covert aspects of these efforts, ranged from supporting protest movements in Europe to giving money and arms to Mujahedeen in Afghanistan. An American official at the Trump administration has noted that it is no secret that the book has had a great impact on Trump's policy toward Iran. Of course, this does not mean that the FDD is the sole promoter of the Iran Sovietization idea. There have been, and still are, many other American experts and researchers who have been studying the possibility of applying Reagan's experience with the Soviet Union to the Islamic Republic of Iran by the Trump administration and have offered recommendations to Trump in this regard.
For instance, Kagan (2018), who is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a former professor of military history at the US Military Academy at West Point explains that there are important structural, ideological, experiential, and personal differences that distinguish the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics from the Islamic Republic of Iran, which must not be ignored. However, he argues that “Iran is much weaker by every measure and much more vulnerable to isolation than the Soviets were.A Victory Strategy can accomplish most American security requirements without actually leading to the rapid collapse of the Iranian regime. This is a feasible undertaking. Isolating Iran from external resources and forcing the regime to concentrate on controlling its own population would be major accomplishments that would transform the Middle East. The centers of gravity in this effort are:
- Separating Iran’s external supporters and suppliers from the Islamic Republic;
- Preventing Iran from gaining and using control of resources beyond its borders (particularly in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq);
- Inflicting defeats on the IRGC in critical theaters (Syria and Iraq especially) to discredit the organization’s internal narrative supporting its supremacy in national-security policy;
- Disrupting Iran’s efforts to secure the material required to build its nuclear arsenal and expand its conventional military capabilities;
- Encouraging domestic dissatisfaction with the Iranian regime within Iran (but without expecting that dissatisfaction to lead to regime change in any particular period of time);
- Encouraging and enhancing dissension within the regime over the desirability of continuing aggressive policies of regional expansion; and
- Taking advantage of the trauma of the upcoming supreme leader succession, which will be akin to the death of Stalin and the most meaningful transfer of power since the death of Khomeini.”
Kagan also argues that Iraq and Afghanistan are Iran's Poland, noting, “A long-term approach would focus on building a consensus among America’s allies about the need to implement the Victory Strategy.It would deter the Russians and Chinese from stepping in to keep Iran alive. It would disrupt the supply chain of strategic materials Iran needs to advance its nuclear and conventional military capabilities. In addition, it would force Iran to fight hard for its positions in Iraq and Syria while simultaneously pressing the Iranian economy in every possible way. Such a strategy would almost certainly force the Islamic Republic back in on itself, halt and reverse its movement toward regional hegemony, exacerbate schisms within the Iranian leadership and between the regime and the people, and possibly, over time, and in a uniquely Iranian way, lead to a change in the nature of the regime.”
It seems that the Trump administration has attached great importance to such views and they have been used in shaping the foreign policy approach of this administration toward Iran. Dubowitz explained about the Trump administration’s approach to bringing about regime change in Iran: “Of course, in public, they deny it. [However,] I do think Bolton and others honestly believe that you can crack the regime the way Reagan cracked the Soviet Union.” Dubowitz has also claimed that Mike Pompeo espouses the idea of Sovietization of Iran. Pompeo () has made a comparison between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Soviet Union. He says, “US President Ronald Reagan understood the power of exposure when he cast the Soviet Union as ‘an evil empire’.” While arguing that the same approach could be useful in a faceoff with the Islamic Republic of Iran, Pompeo has noted that “the Trump administration has not been afraid to expose the regime’s merciless domestic repression.President Reagan’s combination of moral clarity and diplomatic acuity laid the groundwork for the 1986 talks in Reykjavik and, later, the downfall of Soviet communism itself.”
What they call as exposing the corruption among Iranian state officials has turned into one of the main components of the Trump administration’s strategy toward the Islamic Republic of Iran, though there are much more extensive dimensions to the “maximum pressure” strategy that the Trump administration has adopted toward Iran. This strategy is the same thing that proponents of the Sovietization of Iran have recommended; that is, mounting pressure on Iran by using all instruments of the American power. This policy is similar to a recommendation by Johnathan Schanzer, the senior vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He says, “Hammer them with everything, and potentially even collapse the regime.”
Overall, the assumption espoused by a group of influential experts in such institutions as the Foundation for Defense of Democracies as well as certain officials at the Trump administration is that what Reagan did finally brought about the collapse of the Soviet Union. They also have another assumption ;Based on the similar condition between the Islamic Republic of Iran and Soviet Union, if they deal with Iran in the way that Reagan dealt with the Soviet Union, the result would be the same. This assumption ignores the fact that the main reason behind the fall of the Soviet Union was its intrinsic weaknesses and problems, especially economic problems. The political and economic ideas espoused by the Soviet leaders not only failed to bring the country to the same par as the West, but led to the statism and decline in the Soviet Union’s political and economic conditions. Gorbachev planned to change that course, but first, he failed to manage conditions properly, because a large part of the government, especially top officials of the Communist Party did not cooperate with him and treated him as an “outsider.” Second, it was too late for reforms and maximum pressures mounted by the Reagan administration that gives no other available opportunity for Gorbachev..
- Why Sovietization: Conditions that Make It Possible
Following the Cold War and the fall of the Soviet Union, which took place after the termination of the Iraqi imposed war on Iran, Western strategists, on the one hand, were beyond themselves with joy at the fall of the Soviet Union. On the other hand, they had correctly found out that the Islamic Republic of Iran is on its path to become a regional power and then a transregional power, and believed that they had to do something, at least, against its power and, at most, push it toward collapse and fall. According to the conditions of that time, the main model would be the experience of Soviet Union’s collapse. At the present time, following empowerment of neo-Reaganite figures at the White House, the same model has been chosen to face the Islamic Republic of Iran and it has turned into proclaimed and practical policy of the United States to bring about the fall of the “Islamic Republic of Iran.” At the same time, in addition to the availability of this model, the protagonists and proponents of this project believe certain similarities between the Soviet Union and the Islamic Republic of Iran as well. For example, Majid Mohammadi, an analyst close to neoconservative think tanks in the United States, wrote an article titled “The Islamic Republic Following in Footsteps of the Soviet Union,” on January 18, 2018. The article, which was written following street protests in Iran during the same month, was meant for the “Observes Say” page of the BBC Persian. It focused on similarities between the final years of the Soviet Union and the present conditions in Iran, concluding that the inevitable outcome is the implosion of the Iranian government. According to Mohammadi (2018, January 18), those similarities include:
- Poverty, corruption, the inefficiency of the government and public misery resulting from incorrect policies of the Soviet Union had led to a situation in which the majority of the population – especially in marginal regions of big cities – was living under difficult economic conditions and discontent.
- Those political leaders, who really believed in the “[Soviet] system” had gotten old and a new generation had risen to power, which was (is) disconnected from the revolutionary principles of the “system.” The new generation lived (lives) in a bubble of corruption, special privileges, and reliance on suppression and terrorizing of people, which is no more living in the idealistic world of ideology.
- An arms race was going on with Western (Arab) countries, all of whom enjoyed high economic growth rates and could pay the price of the Cold War or tolerate the high costs of military purchases without causing public discontent among their population.
- Paying the high cost of foreign interventions, including in Afghanistan, in addition to declining revenues of the Soviet Union through the sale of oil and gas during the 1980s (with an oil price of fewer than 20 dollars per barrel) pushed the Soviet government toward bankruptcy. As Mohammadi has written, “The reforms undertaken by Gorbachev were meant to end this situation, not to get closer to the West, which finally spelled doom of the Soviet Union. The current situation in Iran is very similar to that of the Soviet Union in the early 1980s and the collapse of the government can take place through partition (like the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia), a full-fledged civil war (such as in Syria), total failure of the central government (like Somalia) and empowerment of mafia groups (as in Guatemala and the Congo). Reliance on oil and gas, as the main sources of revenue for the government, endeavoring to implement a totalitarian ideology which all policies are based on it, having concerns about revival of a past empire, making an effort at global management, hostility toward the West, and multiethnic nature of the country have made the situation in Iran much similar to the one of the Soviet Union.”
Meanwhile, review of articles written on this subject by members of various neoconservative think tanks will allow us to categorize these similarities as follows:
- The first similarity is the ideological nature of politics and governance in the two countries. As supposed by protagonists of this project, the ideological nature of politics and governance in both political systems of the Islamic Republic and the former Soviet Union will cause them not to have necessary resilience when they are exposed to all-out pressures and also in the face of unsettling changes and inputs from their own society. They are also unable to react rapidly for altering international conditions, or at least, when they decide to make a change it is already too late because any change in the political behavior of such governments or their decisions needs ideological justification or some sort of revision in ideological discourses. This justification or revision would be impossible for them or would need a long-term process, which would be accompanied by many disputes and most probably lead to high tensions.
- The second similarity is having regional satellite states and allies. Of course, related to the Soviet Union, this issue was realized on a global level and for the Islamic Republic of Iran, it is only a matter of regional influence. From this viewpoint, this issue indicates the difference in their power as a superpower versus a regional power. The main premise in the Sovietization project is economic and financial difficulties, including sanctions and reduced oil price, will cause these powers to let go of their allies and in turn, will lead to a reduction in their transnational power, which is considered part of the collapse process. Kissinger, former US National Security Advisor and Secretary of State, says, “The Soviet Empire failed in part because its own history had tempted it inexorably toward overextension. The Soviet state was born against all odds and then managed to survive a civil war, isolation, and a succession of villainous rulers. In 1934-41, it skillfully deflected the looming Second World War into what it termed an imperialist civil war, and overcame the Nazi onslaught with the assistance of the Western Allies…. The fatal flaw in all this bloated imperialism was that the Soviet leaders lost their sense of proportion along the way, overestimating the Soviet system’s ability to consolidate its gains, both militarily and economically, and forgetting that they were challenging literally all the other major powers from a very weak base.”
- The third similarity is having a multiethnic society. The Soviet Union was a multinational empire where 15 republics remained aligned with the central government via the Communist ideology and under the force of the Red Army bayonets. Therefore, when those factors lost their strength, all those republics insisted on becoming independent and forming independent nation-states. The Islamic Republic of Iran is also marked with different languages and religious denominations related to various ethnic groups, on the one hand, and the official religion and language of the country, on the other. Meanwhile, the fact that some ethnic groups of Iranians dwell border areas makes it possible for the enemy to use this opportunity in order to cause ethnic unrest and cause to bring about the fall of the nation-state.
- The fourth similarity is the possibility of divisions and discord among the top ranks of the government when faced with all-out external pressures and subsequent domestic protests. The protagonists of this project assume that like the Soviet Union, the Islamic Republic of Iran is also comprised of a ruling elite or a political system that is multilayered and fragmented. As a result, at fateful decisions, these layers and fragments sometimes fail to achieve even a minimum degree of consensus over some fundamental principles or propositions, which can make their coexistence possible and give meaning to the political system. Therefore, there is always a feasibility that people like Gorbachev and Yeltsin would appear from some groups and layers; meanwhile,, others would enter into a political campaign against them in order to topple them. This campaign is a factor, which provides the best opportunity and guarantee for the success of the Sovietization project.
All told, these similarities and characteristics are among the outcomes of the Glasnost policy in the former Soviet Union, which provided the ground for the final collapse of this empire. Now, the enemies of the Islamic Republic of Iran are hopeful that by following this project, same results will happen. Imposing strict economic sanctions, reducing oil price through the role played by Saudi Arabia in the oil market, forcing diplomatic isolation at the global level, launching an all-out media war against the target country, destabilizing the domestic environment, especially through inciting ethnic unrest; making the target country withdraw from its regional and trans-regional spheres of influence and its consequences inside the country in the form of protest rallies, and general strikes, are all common components of the maximum pressure strategy adopted against the Soviet Union and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
- The fifth similarity is the analogy that is drawn between Trump and Reagan because of which it is argued that the time is now ripe to implement the Sovietization project of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Of course, Trump has been willing to be known as a person similar to Reagan and has even taken his famous slogan, “Make America Great Again” from Reagan’s famous slogan. However, he is more similar to Richard Nixon, both in terms of his use of the “Mad Man” advantage and his readiness to get along with the ideological enemy. Dubowitz has been quoted as saying that it should never be forgotten that Trump is not Reagan and it is Pompeo who is willing to play a similar role to that of Reagan concerning the Islamic Republic of Iran. Trump has announced repeatedly that he does not value ideology, but “results” are more important for him. In practice, he has proven that unlike Reagan, he is not very much ideologically committed to American values and has clearly noted that he does not want to impose these values on others. Trump introduces himself as a person who is ready to bargain and negotiate over different issues. In line with this policy, he has even proposed direct talks to the Islamic Republic of Iran on many occasions, though some people believe that his goal is to create conditions for mounting more pressure on Iran. Therefore, possibly Trump can deal with Iran in the same way that Nixon dealt with China instead of trying to apply the Soviet Union’s model to the Islamic Republic.Those people who theorize and promote the idea of Sovietization of Iran are wary of this possibility about Trump. For example, after Trump announced the withdrawal of American forces from Syria, Gerecht and Dubowitz accused the American president of destroying the achievements of his own administration against the Islamic Republic of Iran. They added, “Trump’s withdrawal [from Syria] has severely weakened his own Iran policy, signaling boredom, fickleness, fatigue, and fear.” “The great Iranian-American tug-of-war, which has defined so much of Ayatollah Khamenei’s life, may well be over. It is odd and wry that many Americans, on the right and left, may believe that what is good for Ayatollah Khamenei could possibly be good for the United States, too.”
- The Sovietization process and its various stages
In terms of events and their succession, the process of the collapse of the Soviet Union can be divided into seven stages, including the West’s alignment trap; the economic problems which resulted from sanctions, external pressures, and internal inefficiency and corruption; Gorbachev’s reforms plan; leaving regional and international satellite states; an attempt by the Federation of Russia to reduce its surplus load; a coup by the radical wing of the Communist Party against Gorbachev; and finally, anti-coup movements and rallies in Russia and the fall of the Soviet Union due to the failure of the coup and radical figures.
The first stage, which we call the alignment trap, was a plan by the West to encourage the Soviet Union to engage in a costly arms race, which with financial commitments and high economic expenses of the Soviet Union of satellite states, finally caused increasing economic weakness and disability of this superpower. This is the main factor, which made the Soviet Communist Party tolerate the rise of a reformist faction, led by Mikhail Gorbachev, to power within its ranks and to endorse his reforms plan, which was known as the Glasnost and Perestroika.
Yuri Andropov, who was General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union before Gorbachev, had addressed then-Soviet ambassador to Russia one month before his death, telling him that the Soviet economy was in dire conditions. He added, “We must improve conditions, but the war in Afghanistan has left us stranded. Americans do anything not to let us leave Afghanistan. We were not able to bar those (Americans) from deploying medium-range missiles to Europe. Unfortunately, we lost that battle. Just like the 19th century and following the Crimean War, this must be our motto: ‘Russia, gather your strength’. If we were strong, we would be respected, but if we were weak, we would fall. The main issue is our strength and power, but this strength is to a large extent, depend on the economic progress.” Therefore, there were three major reasons for Gorbachev’s reforms:
- The first reason was the war in Afghanistan, which had caused the Soviet army to be stuck in the quagmire of the resistance of Afghan people and Mujahedeen. Over a number of years, this war of attrition loaded the rulers in the Kremlin with huge expenses in various fields such as military and politics. Many analysts believe that this war was a starting point for the all-out collapse of this huge and powerful union, and due to its effect on all aspects of the Soviet Union’s political geography, it triggered the countdown to the fall of this country. Of course, up to a while ago, it was believed that it was the United States, which embarked on supporting and arming Islamist Mujahedeen following the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan and dispatched them to this war-torn country, which later gave birth to the al-Qaeda organization. However, the real state of events was actually reverse and this was a trap set for Russians by CIA to drag them into Afghanistan quagmire. Chalmers Johnson, professor emeritus of the University of California, Berkeley, who also chaired the Center for Chinese Studies at the university, was a veteran of the Korean War and an advisor to the CIA from 1962 to 1967. Johnson (2010) has explained how the United States helped a process, which led to the formation of the Taliban and al-Qaeda. He writes, “It should by now be generally accepted that the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan on Christmas Eve 1979 was deliberately provoked by the United States. In his memoir published in 1996, the former CIA director Robert Gates made it clear that the American intelligence services began to aid the Mujahedeen guerrillas, not after the Soviet invasion, but six months before it. In an interview two years later with Le Nouvel Observateur, President Carter’s national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski proudly confirmed Gates’s assertion. ‘According to the official version of history’, Brzezinski said, ‘CIA aid to the Mujahedeen began during 1980, that’s to say after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan. However, the reality kept secret until now, is completely different: on 3 July 1979, President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And on the same day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained that in my opinion, this aid would lead to a Soviet military intervention’. Asked whether he in any way regretted these actions, Brzezinski replied: “Regret what? The secret operation was an excellent idea. It drew the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? On the day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter, saying, in essence: ‘We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam War.’ ”NOUVEL OBSERVATEUR: And neither do you regret having supported Islamic fundamentalism, which has given arms and advice to future terrorists? BRZEZINSKI: What is more important in world history? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some agitated Muslims or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?”
- The second reason was the West’s plan to drag the Soviet Union into an arms race and expand it in order to push this country toward one-dimensional development by making it ignore other aspects of development. In fact, although taking part in an arms race was considered as a prerequisite for being a superpower, this country could not handle it in economic terms and had no economic logic for getting involved in it. Most estimates assume that the military expenses of the Soviet Union amounted to 10-17 percent of its gross domestic product. The country experienced an annual economic growth rate between four and six percent after 1976. However, in later years after 1982, the figure dropped to two percent. These figures prove that the lion’s share of the country’s revenues was spent on an arms race with the West. For this reason, some analysts have even talked about the United States’ smart game in this regard. Being aware of the economic vulnerability of the Soviet Union to continue the arms race, Americans announced their Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), which was commonly known as the Star Wars Program, led to the forced retreat of the Soviet Union, and finally spelled the fall of this superpower. Schweizer (2005) has written that according to reports produced by CIA analysts and agents using their human resources and manpower in the Eastern Bloc, it was evident that Moscow was totally disturbed about the United States’ Strategic Defense Initiative. Their sensitivity was so high that the leaders in Moscow even brought up this issue in public meetings. According to one of these reports, Moscow had concluded that the distance between United States and Soviet Union would increase regularly. The leaders of the Soviet Union were facing more economic pressures compared to past years and saw themselves forced to overuse economic resources in favor of military superiority in order to achieve balance against the United States. Therefore, they saw a reduction of the quite critical economic budget. However, reduction in the supply of consumer goods and services could have two adverse effects: disrupting equations related to workforce productivity and increasing discontent among the laboring class.
The situation became so complicated that Gorbachev once addressed the leaders of the Communist Party at a Politburo session, telling them with much concern that they might have to shift resources from “guns to butter,” which he believed was very difficult to do. He noted that officials were stealing everything from people and turning the country into a military camp. Gorbachev argued that the West aimed to drag the Soviet Union into an arms race and deplete the country’s military resources before catching Moscow in a trap.
- The third reason was that in order to promote their ideology and get more allies, the rulers of the former Soviet Union had undertaken commitments in their foreign policy, which were beyond the country’s economic capabilities. Russians actually overlooked the economic logic due to their concern about political and ideological necessities. Various goods were exchanged among the Eastern Bloc countries at unreal prices and when it came to the division of labor among those countries, the principle of comparative advantage was ignored in favor of more emphasis on rivalry between Soviet Union and the West. In the early 1970s, when the oil price skyrocketed, the Soviet leaders sold their oil to Eastern European countries for less than $3 per barrel. In 1975, that price increased to $7 per barrel, but it was still below OPEC’s price of $10.5 per barrel. In addition, the Soviet Union determined the price of goods that it exported to the Eastern Bloc countries without regard to their global prices and within a framework of five-year contracts. This is why toward the end of its days, the Soviet Union had to import what it needed and this not only included industrial requirements, but also agricultural products were imported from the West.
Daniel Chirothas made great academic attempts to help understand revolutions in Eastern Europe during 1989 (Chirot, 2010). As to why the Soviet Union did not interfere in the 1989 revolutions, which took place in its European satellites, he refers to Mikhail Gorbachev’s attitude toward global developments and backwardness of the Soviet Union due to economic vulnerability of this superpower. In his opinion, starting from 1970, the world entered an age of electronics, informatics, and biotechnology, which was considered as the fifth industrial age, and the Soviet Union had lagged behind. This lagging behind could also force this country to retreat in front of the Western Bloc even in the military field.
In fact, the Soviet Union’s deterrent nuclear power was efficient and useful for heading off a possible direct assault from the United States. However, the main threat was somewhere else: the increasing gap between the Soviet Union and the West in the field of computer and electronic technology gave NATO and Japan a great edge in the area of conventional weaponry, which could not be easily filled. Most probably, this was the reason why Soviets were so concerned about the “Star War” project. There was a possibility that billions of dollars, which were spent on such research projects, could lead to important and novel forms of supremacy in the field of limited electronic warfare, which could be subsequently used in conventional aerial and armored warfare. Big governments had confirmed since many years ago that the possibility of a nuclear war was close to zero. Therefore, the main risk to the Soviet Union was that the increasing supremacy of capitalist powers in the field of electronic warfare could turn any localized conflict between the West and the Soviet Union’s allies into a repetition of the aerial battle between Syria and Israel in 1982. Although Israel had been defeated on the ground in Lebanon, its incredible and full victory in aerial combat was a warning that such a triumph could be repeated in future conflicts as well. This situation prompted Gorbachev to reduce the cost of the Soviet Union’s military presence in its satellite states to a minimum and use the money to invest in filling this gap. In fact, the Soviet economy was supposed to be so finely reformed that it would pass the test of the fifth industrial age. To achieve that goal, the Soviet Union had to boost trade and contacts with advanced capitalist countries, in which case, it could not dispatch its forces to other countries anymore.
Based on this perspective, Gorbachev started a test in January 1989 by withdrawing almost all the Soviet forces from Afghanistan. The United States and the Pakistani army expected this measure to lead to a rapid demise of the Communist government in Afghanistan, but it did not take place in reality. The case of Afghanistan proved that the Soviet Union could withdraw from any extraterrestrial engagement without having to suffer a calamity and could also leave communist states alone to face their problems on their own. In a clear unequivocal message to Eastern European governments as well as opposition groups, Gorbachev announced that the Soviet Union was no more trying to maintain the existing communist dictatorships and instead, it preferred to pay more attention and put more focus on promoting the liberal economic and political reforms. In August 1989, Gorbachev interfered in Poland and encouraged the leaders of its Communist Party to join a government, which was to be led by the country’s Solidarity trade union. After being informed of Gorbachev’s decision, the government of Poland conceded to holding a semi-free election and resuming negotiations with the Solidarity union. Of course, even in those semi-free elections, the arrangements had been made in such an unfair manner as to enable the Communist Party to stay in power. However, voters did not comply with those arrangements because of which the party finally fell apart. Since the Soviet Union had already agreed to elections in Poland and its leaders had decided to avoid attacking Poland at any price, they let go of that country. After Russia accepted the rise to power of non-communist figures in Poland in August 1989 and even welcomed that development, a wave of regime change swept through entire Eastern Europe. Hungary was swept by that wave in September the same year followed by East Germany in October, Czechoslovakia, and Bulgaria in November and Romania in December.
The emancipation of the European satellites of the Soviet Union finally fired back and triggered independence-seeking sentiments in the Soviet Union’s own republics. In fact, although the main goal of Gorbachev was to make an effort to revive socialism in the Soviet Union, his reform plan cast serious doubts on the power of the Communist Party and even Gorbachev himself. Lifting censorship and Gorbachev’s attempt to create an open political atmosphere unwillingly led to the increased influence of ethnic nationalistic movements, which were at times anti-Russian, in various republics of the Soviet Union. Many of those republics asked Moscow for more freedom of action. This was especially true about Baltic republics, which included Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia. These republics had been annexed to Russia by Joseph Stalin in 1940. Other nationalist movements also became active in other Soviet republics, including Georgia, Ukraine, Armenia, and the Republic of Azerbaijan. In a surprising turn of events, Gorbachev had set free those forces, which finally led to the annihilation of the Soviet Union.
In response to growing secessionist tendencies in the Soviet republics, Gorbachev proposed a new union treaty according to which a voluntary federation was to be created in the Soviet Union. The Central Asian republics were in dire need of the Soviet Union’s economic power and markets and, therefore, they enthusiastically welcomed the idea of a new union treaty. However, more radical reformists, including the first radical president of Russia, Boris Yeltsin, believed that the country needed to take a great leap toward the free market economy and were ready to see the Soviet Union divided in order to achieve their goals. On the other side of this equation were those extremists who still own a great power within the Communist Party and the army. These extremists were opposed to any process, which could have ended in the partition of the Soviet Union. After increasing the possibility of signing the new treaty, these extremists plotted a coup in August 1991 in order not to let Gorbachev sign the new treaty.
As a result, Gorbachev was placed under house arrest at a villa in Crimea for three days – from 19 to 21 August – after which he was released and came to power again. When Gorbachev returned to power, he realized that powerful institutions did not follow his orders within neither the Soviet Union nor the proposed union. Moreover, instead of Gorbachev, Yeltsin changed the true power. Consequently, Gorbachev resigned and the flag of the Soviet Union was taken down the Kremlin on 25December, 1991, to be replaced with the national flag of Russia.
On the other hand, the pursuit of his Glasnost and Perestroika policies finally was encountered Gorbachev with two different groups within the Communist Party. Conservative figures who believed that the Soviet system was not ready for such changes and would face a crisis as opposed to radical figures who believed in even more profound reforms. Boris Yeltsin, who had been expelled from the political bureau of the party in October 1987, represented the radicals. Through his outspoken criticism of corruption and given privileges to party elites, he gained the attention and support of Muscovites. At the same time, he believed that Russia should abandon other Soviet republics, which burdened Moscow with heavy maintenance costs and were considered as a major obstacle in the way of the Soviet Union playing its superpower role. He kept his ideas under wraps of Russian nationalism that was main ideologue of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn; a famous opponent of socialism in the Soviet Union. Down-to-earth lifestyle of Yeltsin was another factor of his popularity such as using public transportation instead of state limousines. He finally took part in the general elections in 1989 and was nominated for the Congress of People's Deputies. Yeltsin’s landslide victory in Moscow, which came despite staunch opposition of the ruling party, put him in the limelight of political attention as an opposition leader who supported more radical reforms. In June 1991, he was elected as the president of Russia with the independence of Russia being the main item on his political agenda. Faced with these developments, a coalition of conservative officials within the Communist Party, the government, army and the police force who were fearful of the collapse of the Soviet system, embarked on another coup d’état on August 18, 1991. Following the coup, apprehension, and exile of Gorbachev, an anti-coup movement came to life in Russia and started civil resistance by taking control of streets in the capital Moscow. Because of the successful resistance of Yeltsin and reformist figures in Moscow, Gorbachev came back to power. The failed coup undermined the credit and legitimacy of the Soviet system more than before. The increasing faceoff between Yeltsin, Gorbachev, and the Russian Federation, on the one hand, and the “central” government of the Soviet Union, on the other hand, finally led to a total collapse of this union. The Soviet Union was subsequently divided into 15 republics. On December 25, 1991, Gorbachev resigned his post as the president of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the red flag flying over the Kremlin was taken down for the last time.
- Why the Sovietization of the Islamic Republic Is Not Possible?
To discuss about the reason why the Sovietization project will never be successful in Iran, first of all, there are fundamental differences between the Islamic establishment and the Soviet Union in terms of political structure and ideological and social terms. Referring to this issue, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei quoted in a meeting with Iranian government officials a few years ago that “These [Western countries] have made several mistakes [with regard to Iran]. Their first mistake is that [Iran's former president] Mr. [Mohammad] Khatami is not the same as Gorbachev. Their second mistake is that Islam is not the same as communism the third is that the popular establishment of the Islamic Republic is different from the proletarian dictatorship. The fourth is that an integrated Iran is not the Soviet Union, which was made up of annexed territories. And the fifth one is that the unique role of the religious and spiritual leadership in Iran is not to be taken lightly.”
Therefore, in terms of political structure, the most important difference between the two governments is the presence of Velayat-e Faqih (leadership of a religious jurist) at the top power in the pyramid of the Islamic Republic, which differentiates the leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran through its three executives, legislative and judicial powers. It must be noted that this leadership institution supervises those three powers and coordinates them, and this is a characteristic, which was lacking within the political structure of the Soviet Union despite its sophistication. This institution is capable at times of foreign pressures and domestic crises to prevent their side effects, including intensifying all kinds of political differences and disputes among the ruling elites and political groups. It also prevents the formation and success of subversive groups and movements, does not allow any limitation or weakening of the Islamic Republic of Iran's strategic depth and its allies, and does not make way for the rise of ethnic secessionist demands and movements. Due to Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, all political changes and alterations, both short- and medium-term, remain limited to the three mentioned powers and state organizations, and do not extend to the highest level of the government, which is the religious leadership or Velayat-e Faqih.
This structural and legal characteristic has provided the Islamic Republic with the best political opportunity to thwart any subversive conspiracy by preventing political differences, destroying radicalism, and the emergence of the phenomenon known as “caricatured governance”. In other words, it prevents imbalance among military, security and other parts of the government, including economic and social sectors. At the same time, it improves ethnic and religious solidarity and unity and maintains the Islamic Republic’s regional strategic backbone through the lowest amount of economic investment.
When it comes to comparing ideological frameworks, the most important strength of Islamic Republic compared to the former Soviet Union is the ideological capability. This means that Islam, as a “school of thought,” is the main idea that organizes the Iranian system is incomparable with collapsible abolished nature of communism, as an ideology that kept the Soviet Union in one piece. This distinction is characterized by a discourse-based hegemony as its main component, which is rooted in this capability of the Islamic Republic. In this viewpoint, mentioned distinction is the dominant discourse in the arena of political and ideological rivalries in Iranian society. The hegemonic status of the Islamic Republic and its spiritual system is more than the effect of the discourse that feeds it. The main elements of that discourse are also the source of the Islamic establishment’s messages and concepts. In fact, this discourse means a system of expression or a specific group of interrelated and extensive propositions, which conveys a message and a meaning with the final goal of transferring a special way of thinking, a special lifestyle, and a unique type of speech and behavior to its audience. In this sense, the hegemony of any given discourse is the effect of sedimentation of its elements and subtle details in social relations and everyday life. This means as much as these relations become a regular part of nonpolitical life of the society, their political origin will be forgotten. This situation finally leads to conditions which any person in the society accepts those elements and details while going on with his/her everyday life. According to Bloomberg, the main preference in politics is not that everything should be political, but which the main subject of political rivalry is defining nonpolitical issues.
As a result, the discursive hegemony of the Islamic Republic has been an outcome of sedimentation of its spiritual and behavioral system, which is inspired by some form of Islamism, in nonpolitical life of Iranians. As a result, it has allowed the rulers, especially the clergy, at critical junctures of history, to reproduce themselves within the political environment and the official power structure. According to this viewpoint, the clerical hegemony has constantly existed even under the Pahlavi regime when this group did not have the power to rule, which was the main reason behind the fall of the past regime. Bijan Hekmat, an opposition expatriate, has defined this characteristic as such: “. Before the Iranian revolution became victorious in 1979, February, we kept talking about the forceful downfall of the Pahlavi regime without paying attention to the fact that who will finally organize the movement and change the hegemony. A part of the revolution was powerful, but it was the clergy and Islamic institutions which changed the hegemony and led the movement.” Mehrdad Baba-Ali, another member of the same opposition group, has said, “Under the previous regime, the clergy was not part of the monarchial system. However, this very clerical establishment, which I call it an unofficial institution of hegemony, was part of the most important pillar of power in the society. This part turned into an official institution following [the victory of] the revolution in 1979, February.”
In other words, in the discourse of the Islamic Republic, the political action does not disturb people’s ordinary life, because it is intermingled with the social mentality of ordinary people and its hegemony is the product of this characteristic. In better words, those Iranians who want to go beyond the Islamic Republic establishment find themselves in a borderline position and will have to transcend their own conscious or unconscious self as well. However, since the previously mentioned system of ideas and actions has left its sediment in their minds, this is practically impossible. It was on the strength of this point that Michel Foucault explained the quality and reasons behind the occurrence of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. In his opinion, those people who carried the revolution to victory continued their ordinary social life through their political struggles without having to form new political relations and institutions. For example, they did not just attend the clerical sermons during the revolution, because this was an old and social tradition among Shia Muslims. On the opposite, the nonreligious opposition to the Shah’s regime did not enjoy this strategic advantage. As a result, even now, the type of the political struggle, which that opposition suggests against the Islamic Republic, causes disruption in the ordinary and social life of people and this is why it is not welcomed by the Iranian society. Based on this analysis and Foucault’s viewpoint, one could say that social security is the main pivot around which the security of the entire Islamic establishment is defined. Societal security, according to its definition, determines the identity-based aspect of national security and is characterized by such criteria as the society’s ability to continue its normal lifestyle while maintaining its culture, language, religion, customs, and identity. To conclude, the societal security in the Islamic Republic of Iran is based on the lifestyle arranged by the Islamic Republic establishment and its acceptance by the Iranian society. According to its definition, lifestyle is the real and practical manner in which we live our lives. It comprises everything, including our job the way we choose it and get ready for it, the way we choose our spouse and form a family, the choice of the place that we live, its spatial arrangement, our food choices, our taste in arts and aesthetics, conscious and unconscious attachments and identities, and also the way those identities are expressed, interact and change. All these factors come together and make a collection that is called a lifestyle. In this sense, lifestyle is based on the creativity and freedom of the actor who builds his/her identity through the choice of various things that they consume. Iranian society regulates many of its consumer choices, which make up its lifestyle and identity, because of criteria and publicity options offered to it by its political and ruling system. The result of this situation is the hegemonic and dominant position of the Islamic Republic’s discourse and the marginal position of nonreligious and rival discourses. This position is the most important factor, which prevents nonreligious social movements from getting the Iranian society to make the transition from its current discursive conditions to simply materialistic and pragmatic ones.
In addition, there are also political dimensions to the hegemonic status of the Islamic Republic’s discourse. In fact, one of the reasons that the Islamic Republic’s discourse has gained such a status is its intermediate position between two ideas of republicanism and Islamism. Up to the present time, the Islamic Republic has been able – although through many difficulties – to form a relatively compatible image of these two ideas in the minds of its audiences and nationals alike. This comes at a time that rival discourses are devoid of this advantage and most of them have shaped key elements of their discourse based on opposition to Islamism and republicanism. This issue is so important that the United States has made the possibility of overthrowing the Islamic Republic during the first quarter of the 21st century conditioned on this issue. The US Commission on National Security/21st Century (USCNS/21) issued a document in September 1999, titled “New World Coming: American Security in the 21st Century.” The document says, “It is also possible—even likely—that the Iranian theocracy will collapse in the next quarter-century. Iran’s government is an Islamic Republic at present, but it cannot remain both for long: it will either stop being a republic or descend into a truly medieval-style rule, or it will stop being an Islamic theocracy. The battle for that future has already been joined, but how it will turn out no one knows.”
Along the same line, when it comes to diversity of ideological options, the Islamic Republic is a system of governance, which has been so far able to project a self-contained and self-sufficient image of itself. In other words, this system has been successfully covering the entire spectrum of ideological and political options – from ultra-left and center-left to center-right and ultra-right – through a reading that is compatible with Islamic and Sharia-based beliefs of the nation. Therefore, it is still not imaginable for scattered and divided opposition groups, especially expatriates, to come together as an organized conglomerate and become an alternative for the political system of the Islamic Republic. This is why expatriate opposition groups, especially nonreligious groups, have been trying to tie their own discursive geography and political activities to domestic and religious opposition inside the country. According to Farrokh Negahdar, a former leftist opposition figure, “It is certain from my point of view that those forces, which regulate their future policy on the basis of all internal forces of the Islamic Republic with the goal of countering this whole; that is, those forces, which believe that political conditions in Iran can be influenced if the opposition establishes relations with those groups that form the Islamic Republic, are exactly the same forces whose policies become less comprehensible for people by every passing day. The gravitational center of any struggle for democracy in Iran, in its most general form, is not an axis made up of both the regime’s forces and the opposition. This gravitational center still revolves around an axis, which has staunch defenders of Velayat-e Faqih on one end, while its domestic critics form the other end.” It seems that this situation is still sustainable and this opportunity can be taken advantage of.
There is also a regional dimension to this hegemonic status or ideological influence, which can be considered as a reason why on a regional scale, it is not possible to implement the Sovietization project with regard to the Islamic Republic of Iran. In fact, the most important strategic mistake made by protagonists of this project and the new leaders at the White House is ignoring the Islamic Republic of Iran's natural influence in the region. When we talk about the natural influence of our country among regional nations and governments, it does not necessarily mean influence among Shia Muslims in the region, because Iran's influence goes beyond boundaries of religion, history, civilization, and culture. Therefore, there have been many cases in which even non-Shia groups in the region have asked the Islamic Republic to mediate and settle their disputes and this demand has not been even limited to the era of the Islamic Republic. Therefore, the nature of the regional influence of the Islamic Republic is different from the regional influence of such regimes as Saudi Arabia and the Zionist regime of Israel. This is why former US president, Barack Obama, frequently reminded Saudi Arabia that it must recognize the regional influence of Iran. When we say this influence is natural, it means that unlike the analogy that is drawn by American neoconservative figures between Iran's regional influence and the Soviet Union’s influence among its Eastern Bloc satellite states during the Cold War, the influence of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the region can be maintained through a reasonable amount of material and economic cost. As a result, more than being an Achilles’ heel for the Islamic Republic, this influence can be turned into some sort of strategic advantage. Therefore, even if the Islamic Republic reduced its regional cost, it would still maintain a high and effective degree of influence across the region.
At the level of domestic social structures, the most important factor – in comparison with the Soviet Union – which makes the implementation of the Sovietization project impossible with regard to the Islamic Republic of Iran, is the ancient identity as well as the historical background of the Iranian nation and its identity. This identity has helped the Iranian nation survive various crises throughout its history. On the contrary, the Soviet Union was made up of 15 different nationalities and the main factor for their coalescence was the communist ideology in addition to suppression by the Red Army. Therefore, when these two factors were weakened and withered away, independence-seeking, secessionist movements started all across the Soviet Union, and the country collapsed and ceased to exist as a nation-state. In fact, leaders of the Soviet Union sought to build a nation-state, but first, the Marxist ideology was taken as the basis for building this nation-state, and secondly, other factors that make up a nation-state were ignored. As a result, as soon as the first signs of the weakness of the central government became visible and in the context of growing discontent among people, many Soviet republics demanded independence and sought to restore their own national identities regardless of any ideological considerations.
On the opposite, Iran is considered as an ancient country in terms of its ethnic mixture. In other words, before the ideology of nationalism came into existence in modern times to give birth to ethnic ideologies and self-awareness, Iranian ethnic groups lived in peaceful coexistence under a single political system. In fact, Iran has never been like such countries as Iraq, Syria, Jordan or Lebanon, which have artificial borders or governments made by foreign powers. Therefore, a strategic mistake made by the protagonists of this project is that they do not understand the difference between the fabric of the Iranian nation and post-Westphalian nation-states in the Middle East. As a result, they take the same approach to Iran that they took to the Soviet Union. This misunderstanding arose despite the fact that nations like Iran and Egypt are among ancient and pre-Westphalian nations. These nations’ relations among other various ethnic groups are of a coalescent nature. Therefore, drawing an analogy between the territorial collapse of Iran and that of the Soviet Union is basically unwise and a blatant strategic mistake just in the same way that comparing the possibility of partitioning Iraq with the possibility of partitioning Iran can only arise from simplistic minds. In other words, relations among various social groups in Iran are intertwined with those relations cannot be easily destroyed through politico-economic war and even military aggression.
Hobsbawm believes that forming the nation-state in Iran dates back to the time of the Sassanid dynasty. He argues that countries like China, Korea, Vietnam, Iran, and Egypt have been relatively permanent and ancient political entities that is located in Europe would have been designated “ancient nations”. Moreover, other nations are just a few decades older than the beginning of their independency.
Smith (2000) stated that according to David Miller, only three nationalities of Iranian, Jewish and Greek existed in the ancient world. He explained the national identity of Iranians to show that continuity of the Iranian culture has existed in the Sassanid era and has also persisted in the Islamic era despite the collapse of the former national Iranian government.
In addition, Trump's approach and the strategy that he wants to apply to the Islamic Republic of Iran have serious differences with what Reagan did against the Soviet Union. Reagan was an ideological person, who was ideologically indifferent about communism. Trump, however, is not committed to any ideology and has frequently noted – and also shown in practice – that he only thinks about “results” and makes decisions based on tangible achievements. Another issue is that Trump's strategy with regard to the Islamic Republic is totally based on “pressure” and there is no sign that he is making a serious effort to interact with Iran. This is completely opposite to the approach taken by Reagan to the Soviet Union, which was “a combination of interaction in parallel to increasing the pressure.”
This paper discusses conditions related to the possibility or impossibility of applying the Sovietization project to the Islamic Republic of Iran since its application has been started under the administration of US President Donald Trump. The reasons why Iran's enemy is investing on this project was discussed, and additionally an analytical discussion is also made of its process, which is logically should be done when you examine conditions of any phenomenon possibility. Representation of these conditions shows that due to some favorable conditions that exist now, it is possible for this process to get started because of internal vulnerabilities of the Islamic Republic and foreign pressures. However, the Islamic Republic establishment enjoys various political, ideological and social capabilities, which can prevent completion of this process and make it impossible in a smart and timely manner. In other words, a study of the process of collapse of the Soviet Union and its comparison with behaviors and structures in the Islamic Republic show that there are many difficulties facing the application of this project against the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Firstly, the Islamic Republic of Iran has shown that it seeks to boost its defensive and military capabilities in proportion to its strategic code as a regional power. Therefore, when doing this, Iran never goes beyond its strategic capabilities, which would disrupt the balance between those abilities and other areas of the social and economic life of the Iranians. It is for this reason that the enemies of the Islamic Republic have been forced to resort to economic sanctions against Iran, which have no precedent in the history of international relations, to force the Islamic Republic to leave its regional allies alone.
Secondly, the experience gained through the gradual intensification of sanctions against Iran has proven that even under the worst conditions, the Islamic Republic of Iran has never left its regional allies alone and has never desisted from supporting them at any level. This is why regional enemies and rivals of Iran have entered into direct war against the strategic depth of the Islamic Republic in the region; that is, the Hezbollah movement in Lebanon and Syria.
Thirdly, due to the ancient nature of the Iranian nation, big powers and enemies of the Islamic Republic cannot count on secessionist movements in ethnic regions of the country in case the power of the Islamic Republic starts to weaken. As a result, they have to create ethnic crises and inject false ethnic awareness into various Iranian ethnic groups in order to achieve this goal.
These difficulties and efforts show that the enemy’s plan is mostly based on creating conditions similar to those that experienced by the former Soviet Union and it does not necessarily seek to rely on certain individuals. In other words, in this model, the enemy hopes that under similar conditions, decision-makers and politicians would act in a similar manner. Therefore, when they occasionally move to call certain Iranian politicians “Gorbachev,” it must be considered as a trap and part of this project, whose main goal is to sow discord and create division mostly among the ruling elites of the Islamic Republic.
Ayatollah Khamenei, S. A. (2000, July 9). Meeting with Officials and Executives of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Retrieved from http://farsi.khamenei.ir/speech-content?id=3016.
Chirot, D. (2010). What Happened in Eastern Europe in 1989 (Trans by. E. Fouladvand, 3rd Ed.). In Wisdom and Politics (488-519). Tehran: Tarh-e No.
Dubowitz, M. (2017, March 23). The Delusion of the Iran Nuclear Deal. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from https://www.wsj.com/.
---------- (2017, July 5). Confront Iran the Reagan Way. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from https://www.wsj.com/.
Foucault, M. (1998). What Are the Iranians Dreaming About (Trans. by H. Masoumi Hamedani)? Tehran: Hermes Press.
Gerecht, R. M. (2018, May 4). The Iran Deal Is Strategically and Morally Absurd. The Atlantic, Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/05/iran-nuclear-deal-flawed/559595/.
Gerecht, R., & Takeyh, R. (2017, April 7). How Trump Can Help Cripple the Iranian Regime. The Washington Post, Retrieved from https://www.fdd.org/analysis/2017/04/07/how-trump-can-help-cripple-the-iranian-regime/.
---------- (2018, August 3). The Preeminent Challenge, Foundation for Defense of Democracies. The Weekly Standard, Retrieved from https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/weekly-standard/why-iran-is-donald-trumps-biggest-foreign-policy-challenge.
Gerecht, R. M., & Dubowitz, M. (2012, January 17). Economic Regime-Change Can Stop Iran Bomb. Bloomberg, Retrieved from www.bloomberg.com
---------- (2015, July 8). The Iranian Nuclear Paradox. The Wall Street Journal, Retrieved from https://www.wsj.com/.
---------- (2018, December 24). Trump Delivers a Victory to Iran. The Atlantic, Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com.
Goldberg, R., & Ross, D. B. (2018, January 9). On Iran, Trump Should Be Like Reagan. Politico, Retrieved from
Hekmat, B. (2003). A Roundtable on the Republican Movement in Iran. Arash Magazine, 87 and 88, 1-20.
Huntington, S. (1994). The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century (Trans. by A. Shaha). Tehran: Rozaneh Press.
Johnson, C. (2010). Dismantling the Empire: America's Last Best Hope (American Empire Project). New York: Metropolitan Books.
Kagan, F. W. (2018). Can We Pursue a Victory Strategy against Iran? Retrieved from
Kissinger, H. (1999). Diplomacy, 2 (Trans. by F. Soltani Yekta, & R. Amini, 3rd Ed.). Tehran: Ettelaat.
Ledeen, M. (2015, January 20). The Citizen’s Guide to Regime Change, Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Retrieved from https://www.fdd.org/analysis/2015/01/20/the-citizens-guide-to-regime-change.
Le Figaro (2013, September). Iran-United States: After a Long Glaciation, the Thaw? Retrieved from http://www.lefigaro.fr/international/2013/09/28/01003-20130928ARTFIG00238-iran-etats-unis-apres-une-longue-glaciation-le-degel.php.
Mandeville, L. (2013). Iran-United States: After a Long Glaciation, the Thaw? Retrieved from http://fararu.com/fa/news/163206.
May, C. D. (2017, January 25). Defending the Civilized World. The Washington Times. Retrieved from https://www.washingtontimes.com/.
McFaul, M., & Milani, A. (2016). Reading Reagan in Tehran: A Strategy of Realistic Engagement. The Washington Quarterly, 39, 145-163.
Mohammadi, M. (2018, January 18). The Islamic Republic Going the Same Way as the Soviet Union. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/persian/blog-viewpoints-42731993.
Pompeo, M. R. (2018). Confronting Iran: The Trump Administration's Strategy. Foreign Affairs, Retrieved from https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/middle-east/2018-10-15/michael-pompeo-secretary-of-state-on-confronting-iran.
Schweizer, P. (1994). Reagan's War: The Epic Story of His Forty-Year Struggle and Final Triumph over Communism (Trans by. A. Ayyari). Tehran: Ettelaat.
Sharansky, N. (2013, November 17). Is Rouhani the New Gorbachev? How to Test a Supposed Reformer: Stand Firm on Sanctions, Wait for Proof. The Wall Street Journal, Retrieved from https://www.wsj.com/articles/is-rouhani-the-new-gorbachev-1384729070.
Smith, A. D. (2000). The Nation in History: Historiographical Debates about Ethnicity and Nationalism. Hanover: University Press of New England.
The Heritage Foundation. (2017). Iran’s Nuclear, Regional and Proxy Challenges. Retrieved from https://www.heritage.org/middle-east/event/irans-nuclear-regional-and-proxy-challenges
US Commission on National Security, 21st Century (2001). New World Coming: American Security in the 21st Century (Trans. by J. Dehmashgi, B. Farhangi, & A. Rahchamani). Tehran: Tehran International Studies and Research Institute.
Weinthal, B. (2015, September 22). Still Hope for Regime Change in Iran. The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved from www.jpost.com.
Wilkerson, L. (2018, February 5). I Helped Sell the False Choice of War Once. It’s Happening Again. The New York Times, Retrieved from nytimes.com.
. An institute called the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), which backed the Zionist regime of Israel and had close relations with it, was turned into the Foundation for Defense of Democracies following the 9/11 terror attacks. Clifford May, who headed the former institute, is the founder and president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
. The regime can emerge over the next decade with an industrial-size enrichment program, a near-zero breakout time, an easier clandestine path to a nuclear warhead, long-range ballistic missiles, access to advanced conventional weaponry, greater regional dominance, and a more powerful economy, increasingly immunized against Western sanctions. You could call this scenario the lethal Iranian end-state.
. Some analysts believe that the approach taken to Iran by former president Obama and his secretary of state, John Kerry, was similar to the approach taken to communist China by Nixon and Kissinger. Gerecht, however, maintains that even if this comparison were correct, it was Reagan, not Kissinger, who won the Cold War.
. For example, Dubowitz and Gerecht wrote an op-ed just one week before the conclusion of the JCPOA, in which they noted that the accord, which was clinched by Obama, would provide necessary conditions for military action against Iran after the new president takes office in January 2017. They also said in that op-ed that the Iran issue could not be resolved through the nuclear deal, because hostility to the US was a fundamental component of the Iranian regime’s identity and any possible deal would only speed up confrontation between Iran and the United States.
. Kagan believes that there are remarkable differences between Iran and the Soviet Union and, therefore, Iran would not necessarily go the same way as the Soviet Union, but it is still possible for the United States to emerge victorious in its confrontation with Iran through adoption of the correct strategy, which he claims has offered in this article.
. From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider's Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War
. Dismantling the Empire: America's Last Best Hope, 35-37.