Unsatisfied with beating and molesting them on the streets, Iran has started executing its young citizens over their desperate human rights protests.
Majidreza Rahnavard, 23, was only the latest to be hanged this week for what the theocrats declared was his “enmity against God.” Reports suggest that his family was not even forewarned of the execution, instead being told matter-of-factly, “We have killed your son and buried his body in Behesht-e Reza cemetery” — this from a regime that pretends it serves God with humility and honor.
Of course, such callous disdain for human life is a defining facet of the Islamic Republic of Iran. But it says much about the courage of Iranians and their desire for freedom that so many continue to protest even as Tehran’s terror escalates. These latest protests were sparked by the September killing of a young woman, Mahsa Amini, who died after being detained for supposedly wearing her hijab head covering improperly. But the fundamental complaint of these protesters is a simple and enduring one — namely, that they are led by geriatric theocrats who have no regard for anything but their own retention of corrupted power.
Unfortunately, the leader of the free world doesn’t appear terribly concerned with this enduring injustice.
Just as President Joe Biden has turned a blind eye to Iran’s escalating global assassination campaign, the president appears loath to confront Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s grotesque domestic repression. The clearest example of Biden’s weakness is his refusal to formally suspend nuclear talks with Iran. Even though Iran has made a mockery of the talks to restore the flawed 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear accord, and even though the Biden administration has repeatedly insisted time is running out to agree to a new deal, Biden is keeping alive the opportunity for talks. It’s a huge mistake. The restoration of the JCPOA would provide Iran’s leaders with a vast influx of new investment and foreign capital. Instead of flirting with giving the theocrats a new lifeline, Biden should state that as long as Iran continues to massacre its own people and plot the murder of Americans abroad, only sanctions will follow.
Even with sanctions specific to the latest protests, however, the Biden administration is falling short. Although the administration has sanctioned people involved in the repression, it has not yet introduced major new sanctions to further restrict Iranian energy exports and foreign capital holdings. Were Biden truly serious about imposing significant costs on Khamenei’s regime, Washington could make it far harder for the regime to pay its security forces and thus retain its means of repression. The Biden administration’s belated provision of additional internet access to Iranians is another example of its weakness. That internet provision pales in comparison to what the Trump administration provided.
At a basic moral level, it’s clear that the White House and State Department remain reluctant to speak out in plain terms against Khamenei’s thugs and the grave injustice they are perpetrating. The tentative equivocation and technical language that has defined Biden’s and Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s statements is telling. It reflects the administration’s discomfort over the protests and its fear of agitating Iran’s leaders in responding to them. It’s embarrassing and deeply hypocritical. Compare, for example, the Biden administration’s abundant domestic virtue-signaling on transgenderism with its unwillingness to stand up for women who were being beaten to death in the streets.
The Biden administration needs to wake up. What’s happening in Iran is neither morally complex nor fraught with political risk for the United States. Biden must take a stronger stand for basic American values. If not, his administration should abandon any pretense that its Iran policy is anything greater than appeasement.