John Bolton, who served as a national security adviser, warns (W.S.J., June 7th), under the headline Iran Exploits Biden’s Fecklessness, that Iran is steadily overcoming the political and economic constraints imposed by the United States. Tehran's collaboration with the Beijing-Moscow axis, combined with President Biden's focus on reviving the JCPOA and lax sanctions enforcement, is causing a geopolitical realignment and instability in the region. China's diplomatic maneuvers exploit divisions between the U.S. and key Middle Eastern capitals, creating worldwide implications.
With the lack of visible American resolve against Iran's nuclear program, the possibility of Israel taking independent action is growing. The response from the White House, suggesting closer U.S.-Israeli military cooperation, seems more geared towards preventing an Israeli attack rather than supporting it.
An alternative approach would be to pursue the overthrow of the ayatollahs. Recent opposition protests and economic discontent indicate potential regime-threatening levels of instability since September 2022. However, the Biden administration has only provided rhetorical support to the dissidents. The U.S. should focus on the internal instability that may arise in Iran when Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei dies.
During Biden's term, America's resistance to Iran's proliferation and terrorism has become ineffective, causing alarm and alienation among Gulf Arab states and Israel. The administration's actions, including disregarding concerns about the nuclear deal and ending sanctions, have given the impression of abandoning regional allies and empowering their enemies. Furthermore, Biden's stance against hydrocarbon fuels and criticism of Saudi Arabia have strained relationships.
Despite these realities, the Biden administration remains determined to resurrect the Iran deal, potentially allowing billions of dollars to flow into Iran's hands and fuel its malign activities. Iran continues to disrupt oil shipments in the Persian Gulf, while the U.A.E. and other Arab states have grown frustrated with the U.S. response and have taken steps to protect their interests.
The failure to effectively address these challenges will have long-term consequences. Instead of undermining a possible Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear program, the White House should prepare for the aftermath of Ayatollah Khamenei's eventual departure. Failure to plan could forfeit the opportunity to shape Iran's future. This is a critical moment to prevent the rise of a third supreme leader in Iran.