Newt Gingrich is right: Regime change in Iran has been the idea that has made sense for a long time. (Click here to read HUMAN EVENTS’ exclusive story about Gingrich.)
The problem is that our government does not support the idea. Our State Department, which is still staffed by many Clintonites, has refused to make "regime change" the official foreign policy of the United States regarding Iran. Just call Sen. Sam Brownback’s office.
Brownback (R.-Kan.) has personally attached amendments to the 2004 and 2005 budgets authorizing the expenditure of American funds for Iranian democracy. As far back as April 2003, Brownback offered an amendment to provide $50 million to create an Iran Democracy Foundation. Even that amount was too small to do the job; still the step was in the right direction. The problem is that even when Brownback, generally with the help of Sen. Rick Santorum (R.-Penn.), gets Congress to vote money to support democracy in Iran, the funds get allocated to the State Department for distribution. That’s when the funds hit a black hole from which they rarely emerge.
Last year the State Department had $3 million allocated to support Iran freedom movements in funds Brownback fought hard to get voted through. The State Department put out a RFP (request for proposal) and received some 20 different formal requests, some from newly formed groups and others from established groups with years of credibility. Then nothing happened. Even when the State Department said a decision had been made on who would receive grants, no formal announcement was ever made. In October 2005, some six months after the State Department’s initial RFP, the State Department still had failed to announce the winners and disperse the grants. Brownback expressed frustration: "This money should be made available immediately for those seeking to express their opposition to the hard-line Islamic government and to promote internationally recognized rights."
Tom Casey, a State Department spokesperson claimed the delays were purely bureaucratic. In truth, the State Department dragged heels because there was not unanimity within the State Department that the expenditure was consistent with the State Department’s view of appropriate foreign policy toward Iran. As recently as October 2003, Richard Armitage, then Deputy Secretary of State, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the United States needs to keep our policy toward Iran "flexible, dynamic, and multifaceted."
On Friday, Dec. 16, 2005, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution introduced by Santorum condemning the anti-Semitic statements of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and demanding an apology for the hateful statements made toward Jewish people around the world. Democratic senators wanted the language of Santorum’s resolution watered down, quietly arguing that the United States needed to accept as legitimate the result of Iran’s election. While not going on the record directly in the Senate discussion, the argument in the halls of the Senate was that the United States should not interfere in Iran’s internal electoral process.
Brownback and Santorum are to be commended for their foresight and courage in pressing to fund regime change efforts in Iran. The State Department, even under Condoleezza Rice’s direction, is proving that Foggy Bottom is an address that yet remains appropriate. Last time I looked, there were still a lot of John Kerry bumper stickers in the State Department parking lot.
Dr. Corsi is the author of "Atomic Iran: How the Terrorist Regime Bought the Bomb and American Politicians" and co-wrote "Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry" with John O’Neill.