“When are we going to learn? After 30 years of searching the mullahs’ regime for fictitious moderates, it’s time to look outside of the regime for Iran’s true moderates,” writes Blackwell, and rightly so. 

In the case of the Islamic Republic of Iran, reaching out to “moderates” among the ayatollahs’ inner circles has been a constant dream of American officials for the past 30 years. The Obama administration has then created moderators where there are none, in what can only be described as political hallucinations. 

He even compares the logic of looking for moderates in Iran to misguided negotiations with the former Soviet Union before the Cold War. “The trouble is that the concept of a moderate is relative. In dealing with the former Soviet Union we heard the term “Politburo moderates” over and over.” He goes on to say that, “Reaching out to this fabricated species was an excuse for being nice to despicable governments.” The comparison with the former Soviet Union is very apt, and the US must realize it is just repeating it past diplomatic mistakes. 

Hassan Rouhani can only be a moderate if he actually takes moderate stances on the mass executions and human rights abuses that have happen in Iran under his watch. He should thus announce a moratorium on executions, end capital punishment for juvenile offenders, release of all political prisoners, make a public commitment to protecting freedom of speech, association, religion and political opinion, end discrimination against women, reject Iran’s massive backing of the Assad dictatorship as well as slogans calling for death to America, and stop supporting terrorist organizations, from Hezbollah in Lebanon to Shiite militias destabilizing Iraq. But none of this will come to pass. Yet the US is hell bent on having faith in Iran’s “moderate” side. 

“The illusion of moderation is just that, an illusion,” writes Blackwell. The real moderates in Iran are imprisoned for fighting for democratic change. Blackwell comes out in support of the National Council of Resistance of Iranian (NCRI) who will be demonstrating in Paris on January 28 as Rouhani arrives there. They are supporters of NCRI President Maryam Rajavi’s 10-point plan for the future of Iran, which describes a secular, democratic, pluralistic state built on the principles of true moderation. 

“No matter how hard we try to forget his past, or how much hope we have for the present, Rouhani is who he is: the president of a ruthless theocracy, loathed by Iranian people, and spreading terror and instability throughout the region,” writes Balckwell.