Iran policy advice from a former Revolutionary Guardsman

As a lot of things are, recommending a certain U.S. policy toward Iran is out of my league.  Last month I read Michael Totten’s interview of Reza Khalili (a pseudonym), formerly in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard who turned into a CIA informant (here is a link to his new book about his life).  He argues for confrontation.  Here are some excerpts:

On what the Iranian government wants:

Reza Kahlili: Every opinion put out by the Western analysts over the years has been wrong. Just last year Newsweek came out and said everything we know about Iran is wrong, but they found out a month later that they were wrong about everything they said. The same with the New York Times reporter, I forget his name.

The idea that this government is a dictatorship that wants to sustain power and therefore won’t do anything like use a nuclear bomb is incorrect, I think. They have shown through their behavior over the past three decades that they have one goal, and that’s to confront the West.

If you look more deeply into the thought processes of the people controlling the government, these are people who strongly believe Islam will conquer the world. Every act they commit is in that direction. They don’t just want a nuclear bomb to make them untouchable. They think it will be the trigger for Islam conquering the world.

If all they wanted was to protect their government, as many are saying, they have the best opportunity right now. They can negotiate with the West, join the global economy, be respected and all that, but they refuse to do so.

MJT: So do you think if they acquire nuclear weapons they will actually use them?

Reza Kahlili: They will.

MJT: Against Israel?

Reza Kahlili: You have to look at the parallel projects that they’re working on, the missile delivery system and the nuclear project. Currently they cover part of Europe. Their goal is to cover all of Europe. They’re not going to announce they have a bomb unless they have overcome the glitches of putting together a nuclear bomb and a nuclear warhead. But once they do that, they will make enough bombs so that all of Europe is under their coverage….

I can argue both sides of the coin. If you don’t believe they’re going to do it—and a lot of people don’t—the least that’s going to happen if they become a nuclear power is that they’ll become more aggressive and hold the world hostage. Just look at the past thirty years of behavior. They arm Hezbollah, Hamas. The defense minister is on Interpol’s Most Wanted list. They’re providing arms to the Taliban. They’ve gone to Venezuela, Mexico, they’re spreading their forces. The least that will happen is they’ll become the power in the Middle East and they’ll control the energy resources of the world. This is a logical argument, based just on previous behavior, if they become a nuclear power.

His advice for President Obama:

Immediately, the Western countries should cut off all shipping lines and air lines, and deport all Iranians who work in offices connected to the Iranian government. They’re Quds Force members. They’re intelligence guys. Deport them. And stop sending refined oil to Iran. They rely on that.

Corner the country and give them a deadline. And if the Iranian government doesn’t give up its program, take it out. Do not allow this country to become nuclear armed. Sanctions are not going to work.

In the worst case scenario, if there is a military confrontation, do not invade the country. Do not destroy the country. Take the Revolutionary Guards out. If you take the Revolutionary Guards out, this government can’t last 24 hours.

We know all their bases. We know all their officers. We know all their buildings. If they move in convoys, take them out. And that will be the end of this government.

In some ways, this sounds a lot like what supposedly would happen when we invaded Iraq, although Totten says in this post that Khalili seems much more trustworthy than Ahmed Chalabi.  Khalili’s advice is worth putting in the mix.



  1. “do not invade the country” is also a significant difference from Iraq. Unfortunately, I think the US would feel obligated to invade if they destroyed the Iranian government.

    But too many people still hope such confrontation might not be necessary to actually do it. Even severing economic ties seems to be beyond the ability of Western consensus.

  2. That’s a good way of putting it, Kevin. There’s not much of an appetite for confrontation.

    Perhaps this could be a good thing, too. Thousands and thousands of Iraqis died during the economic sanctions, which failed to bring any real pain to Saddam. It’s not certain that a confrontation, either economic or military would produce the result that we want.

    But that’s a big “perhaps.” We won’t really know until we have the benefit of hindsight.

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