Remarks by Linda Chavez, former Director of the White House public liaison, in a panel on “Policy on Iran” in Paris, 29 June 2018, organized jointly by FEMO and APA.
Well, I wish that there was more I could say about public opinion in the United States on Iran. Unfortunately, I think the American public is not as focused on this issue as I would like to see them be. I find myself in an odd position of being a Republican, a conservative, and yet nervous about the Trump administration, even when I agree, as I did, with the administration’s decision to pull out of the agreement on denuclearization in Iran.
What I am concerned about is what follows, and will we have the will to be able to exert the kind of economic pressure that is going to be needed, with respect to Iran? And will we have the ability to get cooperation from our European allies? And I think this is made somewhat more difficult now by the ongoing trade disputes between the United States and the European Union. I think we ought to be focused on the big issues, and trade and trade deficits are not one of them. We would be much better to be focused on the threat that is posed by Iran and be working with our European allies to try to bring them along and to ensure that they are going to exert the kind of pressure that’s needed to see that kind of response within Iran itself, because I agree with Senator Torricelli and former Foreign Minister Terzi that if we’re going to have change, that change is going to have to come at the top in Iran and it’s going to have to be led by the Iranian people.
There is not going to be a military response that will change the regime. This is going to have to be a democratic revolt by the Iranian people. And so I would hope that the administration would be more active, number one, in reaching out to the democratic resistance, talking to those in the POMI to try to get a better sense of what this organization stands for, what kind of regime change they would like to see, and the democratic principles that Madame Rajavi and others in the organization have put forth, because that, to me, is the only acceptable future. I am heartened that in the recent discussions between John Bolton and Putin that one of the issues that appears to be on the table is for the upcoming summit between President Trump and Mr. Putin is the withdrawal of support from the Russian government for Iran’s presence in Syria, because this is a destabilizing force not just in Syria, but throughout the region.
So there may be some progress that will come out of this. I am hopeful, however, that when President Trump actually gets to the summit that we don’t see a repeat of what we saw in North Korea which is a support for Mr. Putin without concomitant kinds of assurances that the Russians are going to indeed play a positive role in the region, which they have not to date. So I stand hopeful that the Trump administration will follow through.
I, for those of you who’ve been coming to these conferences, John Bolton is a name well known to you. He’s been at many of these conferences. I have a lot of faith in John. He does know this issue and he knows it well. What I’m hopeful is that President Trump listens to John Bolton.