Iran Regime’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC)

Much has been discussed about “fake news” appearing everywhere, from newspapers to blogs to social media to even Wikipedia listings that have been altered.

The wave of fake news stems largely from the ability in today’s hyper-connected, social media world to distribute information as fast as fingers can swipe a touchscreen. It also means it has become harder for ordinary people to discern what is legitimate and accurate news versus what is hyperbole or hysteria. John Lee wrote in the ‘Independent Journal Review’ on March 23 and the article continues as follows:

One example of how fake news is being pumped out is the case of the Iran lobby and its opposition to the possible designation of the Iranian regime’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a “Foreign Terrorist Organization” by the Trump administration.

On the surface, many people may already think that the IRGC is already designated a terrorist supporter - and they would be correct, but only to a point. Past administrations have designated individuals associated with the IRGC and shell companies operated by the IRGC as sponsors and supporters or terrorism. Or they have been involved in evading sanctions such as on the importation of technology that could be used for nuclear weapons.

These sanctions and violations have occurred with such regularity over the last two decades that it is easy to think the IRGC was sanctioned long ago, but that hasn’t been the case.

The IRGC as an institution is one of the most powerful and pervasive institutions within Iran. It not only controls vast military power, but it also controls virtually all of the major industries within Iran such as oil production, telecommunications, manufacturing, chemicals and agriculture through an intricate maze of shell companies and false fronts.

Much of the wealth it accrues—often illegally—is used to line the pockets of IRGC leaders and their families, as well as support a network of military proxies used by the IRGC’s Quds Forces to carry out a variety of missions including starting wars in Syria and Yemen, as well as carry out terror attacks and supply arms and explosives to groups such as Shiite militias in Iraq.

The IRGC is a potent force and one that stands at the hearty of the Iranian regime’s extremism and most violent acts. If the mullahs are the brains of the regime, the IRGC are the heart and muscle that obeys their commands ruthlessly.

For many past American administrations, the problem with dealing with Iran effectively has been to how to confront the IRGC. Any action that does not address the IRGC only nibbles at the corners of Iran’s intractability.

The IRGC is so pervasive in Iranian society that the Iran lobby has used the argument that censuring the IRGC as a whole would amount to a catastrophe and ruin any hopes for a peaceful resolution. In fact, groups such as the National Iranian American Council have constantly used the specter of war as a response to sanctioning the IRGC.

But their logic is twisted and perverse. It argues that if a violent felon is in your house and threatens you and your family, bashing him on the head with a baseball bat may lead to a violent confrontation. So instead, meekly submit and allow that criminal to do whatever they wish and everything will be alright.

It’s the kind of logic that argued for a nuclear agreement with the mullahs but did not include provisions to rein in their human rights abuses nor include any political reforms to move Iran towards a freer, open and democratic government.

Suitably, the NIAC issued a policy memo by Tyler Cullis outlining what it believes are the “key legislative principles” Congress should adhere to moving forward in respect to the nuclear agreement, otherwise known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“The United States must show sophistication in how it addresses Iranian activities anathema to U.S. interests, such as Iran’s continued development of its ballistic missile program and its support for U.S.-designated terror groups,” the NIAC memo reads. “Several pending legislative proposals, as well as policy intimations from the new Trump administration, risk severely undermining the nuclear accord by either imposing broad-based sectoral sanctions on Iran’s economy or re-imposing sanctions that were lifted as part of the JCPOA.”

Cullis goes on to argue that any new sanctions would fatally kill the nuclear deal. He in essence means the U.S. is held hostage by the deal and should ignore any and all new provocations, no matter how bad they may be in order to save the deal at all costs.

But the most glaring logic error in Cullis’ memo is that he ignores the most fundamental problem with the JCPOA which is that is separates nuclear-related issues from non-nuclear issues. So if Iran were to use chemical weapons on Syrian civilians or fire a missile that strikes a U.S. Navy warship, under his logic, the U.S. must refrain from taking any actions for fear it could undermine the JCPOA.

The U.S. essentially grants the Iranian regime a free hall pass to commit whatever mayhem it wants.

“Considering that the IRGC or its affiliates are designated under at least five U.S. sanctions program at present, designating the IRGC an FTO would have no actual value to the United States. Such a designation could, however, put at risk American lives and prevent future diplomatic contacts between the two countries, as U.S. defense and intelligence officials have long warned,” Cullis warns.

It is the same tired argument the Iran lobby has always made and one that we already know has been proven false over and over again.

The IRGC is such a fundamental driver of the chaos gripping the Middle East that only direct action against the IRGC and more importantly, the massive financial resources and industries it controls, is the only surefire pathway to finally correcting the regime’s most wretched excesses.

We can only hope the Trump administration and Congress stop listening to the ridiculous arguments of the NIAC and instead remember the 400,000 lives lost in the Syrian conflict at the hands of the IRGC.