Introductory remarks by Ambassador Lincoln Bloomfield, Distinguished Fellow and Chairman Emeritus at the Stimson Centre, former Assistant Secretary of State for Military Affairs. He chaired a panel discussion on Iran entitled “IRGC and Sanctions” in Paris, 29 June 2018, organized jointly by FEMO and APA. Participants in the panel included:
• Robert Joseph, Ambassador, U.S. Special Envoy for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security until 2007
• Bruno Tertrais, Deputy Director of the Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique (FRS)
• Michael Pregent, Middle East analyst, Hudson Institute
• Jean-Sylvestre Mongrenier, membre of the Institut Thomas More and researcher at the l’Institut Français de Géopolitique (Université Paris VIII Vincennes-Saint-Denis)
• Eduard Lintner, former Deputy Minister of Interior of Germany
His remarks follow:
I’m Lincoln Bloomfield, and I’m pleased to be back for another panel. This one is going to be more dynamic because one of our speakers is going to be exiting, another one is going to be arriving. So it will be much more exciting than having people sitting in a stationary mode. We’re going to talk about the IRGC and sanctions. I am joined and actually I am going to start with Bruno Tertrais. He is the deputy director of the Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique. And then I’m joined by Mr. Eduard Lintner, the former deputy minister of interior of Germany, we’ll be very interested in his comments. Michael Pregent, the Middle East analyst of the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C. And Ambassador Robert Joseph, U.S. special envoy for nuclear nonproliferation and former undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, until 2007. Bob, it’s great to be with you again.
So if you have been following the conversation today, you’ve heard from senior military officers and from intellectual and editorial observers of Iran and the regime. I want to challenge this panel to ask the basic question, what can sanctions do? How important is the IRGC in terms of the violations of international law and international norms and the aggression that is being visited upon the Middle East? And so are sanctions the best and most appropriate response? Do they work? But beyond that, the question is, what is the future of these people? Not the important ones, but the foot soldiers who are the young men with arms, as they say. The men with guns who in 39 years under a dictatorship, it’s a job, it’s an easy job. No one will arrest you if you’re in the IRGC. You’re safe. And so you engage in all kinds of things, smuggling weapons and cash, explosives, trafficking in persons. If you read the State Department’s latest report, trafficking in young men, young women, stealing young men from Afghanistan and taking them to Syria where they can’t leave, they have to fight. Selling drugs. They’ve been caught driving 18-wheel vehicles full of heroin in Europe, even while they’re executing people for selling small amounts of drugs in southern Iran. So the IRGC is a big enterprise. I’d like to hear from our panel on their thoughts on how do we—what can the international community do to object to the behavior of this organization? And maybe what can they do to persuade many of the people who are in the organization that their future lies in making a move away from it? How about that for a provocative question?