Ex-Dem Senator: On Iran, Change From Previous Administration Is ‘Night to Day’

By Patrick Goodenough | September 22, 2017 | 4:18 AM EDT

A Free Iran rally near United Nations headquarters in New York Wednesday featured caricature puppets of Iranian President Hasan Rouhani and supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (Photo: OIAC)

(CNSNews.com) – Former Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman told a “Free Iran” rally in New York this week that while he doesn’t always see eye to eye with President Trump, “when it comes to Iran, the change from the last administration to this one is a change from night to day, from darkness to sunlight, from illusion to reality and realism.”

Addressing Iranian-Americans and others protesting against President Hasan Rouhani’s presence at the nearby United Nations headquarters Wednesday, Lieberman said Trump has made that clear throughout his eight-month presidency, but never more so than in his “extraordinary” speech to the world body earlier this week.

He said the Obama administration “felt that if it signed that [2015] nuclear agreement with Iran, Iran would change, become more moderate.”

“And the fact is, in the years and almost two years since the agreement was implemented, nothing about the atrocious, aggressive, extremist behavior of Iran has changed. President Trump sees that and speaks to it.”

Lieberman drew attention in particular to one statement in Trump’s speech, directed at the Iranian people.

The president said, “Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever, and the day will come when the Iranian people will face a choice. Will they continue down the path of poverty, bloodshed, and terror?  Or will the Iranian people return to the nation’s proud roots as a center of civilization, culture, and wealth, where their people can be happy and prosperous once again?”

Lieberman said the Iranian people are already demonstrating that they have had enough of the regime, pointing to reports of an estimated 11,000 acts of anti-regime protest across the country over the past year.

He expressed the hope that Trump will start supporting Iranian opposition groups, much as the U.S. “did during the dark years for the people of Eastern and Central Europe, who had to live under the tyranny of the communists.”

Also praising Trump’s U.N. speech was a former U.S. ambassador to the world body, John Bolton, who described it as the best of his presidency.

Bolton told the gathering the U.S. should declare an official policy of regime change.

“I think the world needs to hear this with clarity, and I think President Trump laid the ground work for that announcement in his speech to the General Assembly yesterday, when he stressed that the prime victims of the regime in Tehran were the people of Iran themselves,” he said.

“This is a critical statement by the president because any regime that’s as murderous and totalitarian as this one is cannot possibly have international legitimacy,” Bolton said. “Legitimacy only comes from the voice of the people.  That’s what real national sovereignty means.”

‘Axis of evil is not a metaphor; it’s a reality’

Bolton cited the risks posed to the world by North Korea’s nuclear and missile activities and pointed out that North Korea and Iran have been cooperating in those fields for many years.

“Whatever accomplishments North Korea makes in the nuclear and ballistic missile fields, the ayatollahs can have the next day by, writing a check that’s large enough,” he argued.

A Free Iran rally near United Nations headquarters in New York Wednesday featured photos of National Council of Resistance of Iran leaders Massoud Rajavi and Maryam Rajavi. (Photo: OAIC)

Bolton said the two regimes’ missile programs share the same objective: “They’re to deliver nuclear weapons; they’re not to launch weather or communication satellites.” 

He said the problems posed by North Korea and Iran were not separate.

“They are basically the same problem,” he said. “The ‘axis of evil’ is not a metaphor, it’s a reality.”

Speakers at the rally raised the Iran nuclear deal, voicing hope that Trump – who is required by law to certify by mid-October Iran’s compliance with its commitments under the agreement – will not do so.

Lieberman said Trump’s U.N. speech gave him hope that the president will make that choice.

“He gave us hope to believe – the president did – what I think when we met here last year at this time we never would have imagined was possible: That the president of the United States may well soon decertify Iran essentially pulling the United States out of this bad agreement,” he said. “And that is an incredibly positive turn of events.”

“The United States should abrogate the nuclear deal,” said Bolton. “The president shouldn’t just decertify it, he should get out of it and create a new reality so that we can take whatever steps are necessary to prevent Iran from achieving this nuclear capability that the regime has sought.”

The rally, arranged by the Organization of Iranian American Communities, drew supporters of the exiled National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and featured placards bearing photos of NCRI leaders Massoud Rajavi and Maryam Rajavi.

In a speech read out on her behalf, Maryam Rajavi criticized the U.N. for welcoming Rouhani.

“Why do U.N.’s doors continue to be opened to the officials of a regime which has kept their grip on power by shedding an ocean of blood?” she asked.

“So long as the international community and the U.N. welcome the Iranian people’s oppressors, they will continue to violate human rights and warmongering,” Rajavi said. “They will also exploit the U.N. podium to defend their barbaric theocracy.”

In his speech in New York, Rouhani portrayed Iran as a country “on the frontlines of fighting terror,” dismissing Trump’s strong criticism a day earlier as “ignorant, absurd and hateful rhetoric, filled with ridiculously baseless allegations.”


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Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow