The Economist reported that Westerners hoping the Iran nuclear deal might produce positive lasting changes in the Middle East “have been humbled in recent weeks.” That’s because Iranian “conservatives” have “undermined” any attempt by the relatively “moderate” President Hassan Rouhani to reform his country and end its “international estrangement.”
In its issue November 14, The Economist said that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has continued intervening in the country’s economy and even arrested a prominent Iranian-American businessman, countering Rouhani’s attempts at economic liberalization. In addition, the ongoing imprisonment of five journalists in Tehran has complicated a prisoner swap with the United States. Each of these events has “embarrassed” Rouhani.
After Western powers reached a deal with Iran in July, IRD President Mark Tooley warned that pacifist Christians who advocated for the agreement should expect some unwelcome surprises. He said that continuing to tolerate the Iranian theocracy would only result in “further empowerment for Iran’s tyrannical mullahs.”
“Serious Christians can’t just cry peace, peace, peace,” Tooley counseled. “We’ve a sacred duty to think through unintended consequences and advocate policies that seek approximate justice and security, which requires diplomacy and capacity for effective force.”
Mark Melton – Deputy Editor of IRD’s new foreign policy journal Providence – noted concerns that Israel could “face increased insecurity” because of the deal. Among other looming threats was the possibility that without sanctions in place, Iran would “have more spare cash to fund Israel’s enemies, especially Hezbollah.”
Despite these reasoned objections, Christian groups like the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops, National Council of Churches, and Friends Committee on National Legislation (a Quaker lobbying group) all praised the Iran deal, as IRD reported throughout this last summer.
Perhaps early indications from Iran will prompt these Christian groups to reassess their advocacy. Instead of encouraging Christians to embrace their own utopian worldviews, these organizations could urge caution in dealing with Iran and wisely exercise skepticism about the prospects for immediate and genuine reform in the Islamic theocracy.