President Trump appeared to dash the hopes of his neoconservative foreign policy advisors when he explicitly rejected a strategy of regime change for Iran on Monday. Trump was speaking to press during a state visit to Japan, and endorsed the idea of his Japanese counterpart visiting Iran to further diplomatic exchange.
“We’re not looking for regime change. I want to make that clear… No one wants to see terrible things happen.”
The President specified that his driving principle was to prevent Iranian acquisition of nuclear weapons, as opposed to a utopian ideal of imposing a western-style ‘liberal democracy’ upon the Islamist state. He referenced what he identified as great economic potential for the nation of 81 million people, offering a diplomatic olive branch in a manner akin to how his administration’s engaged with North Korea.
President Trump even went so far as to predict that the United States would reach an agreement with Iran under his administration.
The statement rejected the policy goals of neoconservatives like Mike Pompeo and John Bolton within the Trump administration, who have sought regime change in the Middle Eastern country in uncertain terms. Bolton directly called for regime change in a speech to a fringe communist group last year. It’s likely the President’s comments in favor of peace and diplomacy will leave him and Pompeo(another reliably ultra-hawkish figure within the administration) steaming.
Tensions have arisen between the United States and Iran in recent months, in great part to due to bellicose rhetoric from hawkish advisors surrounding the President and agitation from Saudi Arabia for an American confrontation of its Shia rival.
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