President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally for Senate candidate Luther Strange, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Huntsville, Ala. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
During the Obama era, our governing strategic philosophy was “leading from behind.” It was a corrupt and stupid concept foisted upon us by corrupt and stupid people. It is based on the idea that we are either too weak or too disrespected to lead.
The reaction to the 2009 Green Revolution and the current demonstrations in Iran is a case study in what a difference US actions can make.
Trump and his administration have spoken, at length, about the demonstrations and about holding the regime directly accountable for its actions.
The administration followed the words with action. Today, Treasury imposed sanctions on five regime connected firms associated with Iran’s ballistic missile program and who are owned by regime figures.
The U.S sanctioned five Iranian entities for their work on the nation’s ballistic missile program and signaled that more punitive measures lay ahead in response to the Islamic Republic’s suppression of anti-government protests.
The entities, none of which are publicly traded, are being designated for being owned or controlled by Iran’s Shahid Bakeri Industrial Group, the Treasury Department said in a statement released Thursday.
“The United States will continue to decisively counter the Iranian regime’s malign activity, including additional sanctions targeting human rights abuses,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the statement.
This was followed up with a statement that said more are coming and still more could follow if the regime overreacts:
The Trump administration condemned Iran’s government Thursday for cracking down on protests across the country and warned that the United States has “ample authorities” to impose sanctions in response.
At the same time, the United States imposed new sanctions on five Iranian entities over their involvement in developing ballistic missiles. Those sanctions were unrelated to the ongoing protests. But Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said more sanctions “targeting human rights abuses are coming,” adding that the U.S. would call out Iran’s economic mismanagement — a key complaint of the protesters.
At the State Department, spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Iran’s government had imprisoned more than 1,000 people and was killing “those who are brave enough” to protest in the streets. She accused Iran’s government of limiting the flow of information, restricting speech and trying to prevent the rest of the world from witnessing the repression.
Nauert said the United States supports Iranians’ “legitimate aspirations” and calls on Iran’s government to ease controls on information and allow peaceful demonstration.
“To the regime’s victims, we say: You will not be forgotten,” Nauert said.
While the sanctions may have been in the works, they were definitely rolled out and spun to support the demonstrators:
U.S. punishes Iran over missiles, citing spending 'at the expense of its citizenry'https://t.co/VgoFFrosso
— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) January 4, 2018
U.S. Department of Treasury sanctions Iranian entities
“These sanctions target key entities involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program … As the Iranian people suffer, their government and the IRGC fund foreign militants, terrorist groups, and human rights abuses.” pic.twitter.com/gjhBi1j2iw
— NBC Politics (@NBCPolitics) January 4, 2018
The administration is also actively lobbying for other nations to do the same:
The Trump administration is lobbying countries world-wide to support Iranians’ right to peaceful protest and is prepared to impose fresh sanctions if Iran’s government cracks down forcefully on the demonstrations spreading throughout the country, U.S. officials said.
The new U.S. sanctions would be imposed under existing authority to respond to human-rights violations and could be aimed at the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in a bid to minimize doing economic harm to the Iranians carrying out the protests, the officials added.
[Brian Hook, the State Department’s director of policy planning] pushed back on the notion that energetically backing Iranians’ right to publicly express their views would give ammunition to the regime.
“It doesn’t matter what we do, they will blame us,” he said. “For us, this is not a complicated question. We want to take a position with moral clarity and let the protesters know they’re not alone.”
In an effort to mobilize international support for its stance, Trump administration officials have been working on a joint statement with the U.K., France, Germany and Italy that would urge Iranian authorities to respect their citizens’ rights and not to use violence against the protesters. The Trump administration is also eyeing action at the United Nations in the coming days, officials said.
“We are actively collecting all information on human-rights abuses in Iran against peaceful protesters,” Mr. Hook said.
And it is showing signs of working:
The sanctions are happening in the context of Trump having to certify Iran as being in compliance with several sanctions acts — one of which is the nuclear deal — over a five-day period beginning January 12. So it is a safe bet a lot more sanctions are coming.
The overall point is that leading from behind is a great strategy for the weak and timorous. It is a shameful strategy for the United States. And whether you think Trump is great or whether he’s a sub-moron, there is no doubt that he is handling this crisis nearly pitch perfect. And because he’s leading, he’s finding there are people willing to follow.