In a scathing op-ed for longtime Washington, D.C., political outlet The Hill, former George W. Bush-era counterterrorism adviser Frances Townsend said the Biden administration “has undermined our nation’s hard-won strength as a global superpower” in its dealings with Iran.
Townsend argued that negotiating with Iran while the regime has “a gun in their lap” cripples the United States’ global reputation as well as its ability to respond to violations of international law with credible force.
What Is The Concept Of Frances Townsend?
While the bulk of the piece spoke of Iran’s nuclear program, Frances Townsend also opened up the concept that Iran uses its nuclear potential as one aspect of a broader scheme to negotiate in bad faith around sanctions and other issues.
- Recently Townsend, in association with the Iran Threat Commission — which she co-chairs along with former Polish minister of foreign affairs Radoslaw Sikorski — condemned the Iranian regime pending its execution of Swedish academic and emergency medicine specialist Ahmadreza Djalali.
- Djalali was arrested during a business trip to Iran in 2016 under suspicion of spying for Israel, according to statements made by Iranian authorities.
- Djalali has stated that he was “forced to confess” under duress and was sentenced to death after a trial that many human rights groups called a sham.
- Iran said Djalali was spying for Israel. Djalili denies the accusation and said Iran was asking him to use his academic connections to spy on Israel for them. He was slated to be executed on May 21.
Earlier this month, Iran said that it had detained another Swedish national, who has not been named, while he was traveling with other Swedish citizens in Iran.
When Has Nouri Been Put On The Trial?
These events, many experts believe, were set in motion after Sweden arrested former Iranian official Hamid Nouri in 2019.
Nouri has been put on trial for “murder and war crimes” stemming from the 1988 massacre of between 2,800 and 3,800 Iranian political prisoners. He is expected to be sentenced in the coming weeks to life in prison, as Sweden does not have the death penalty.
Frances Townsend concluded that these recent events serve as proof of a pattern of behavior in which Iran does not follow international norms when it comes to negotiation, and the efforts around its nuclear program are no different.
As a result of treating Iran as a rational player, and Townsend argued it is not, the United States loses credibility in its ability to enforce sanctions or law, she stated.
Townsend asked: “How should our adversaries, or allies, perceive us if history shows our actions repeatedly have been reduced to just words?”
She stated that the Biden administration’s negotiating tactics with Iran, which have included 'closed-door briefings' that 'point to significant concessions for Iran,' are part of the problem.
Townsend's Words On The Nuclear Dealing
Townsend highlighted that the current proposed iteration of the nuclear deal would 'relieve terrorism-related sanctions on the central bank, the oil ministry, Iran’s national oil company and, most alarmingly, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).'
She took particular issue with the latter element. The IRGC, she contended,
Supports foreign terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and the Houthis in Yemen with military technology and weapons materials
...and that delisting them from the list of terrorist organizations would show a 'blatant disregard for the lives of IRGC victims around the world.'
In addition, she said, negotiating with Iran over nuclear sanctions positions the U.S. as a country that won’t necessarily protect its own people, as she argues that the IRGC has made assassination attempts on former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former national security adviser John Bolton and former U.S. special representative to Iran Brian Hook.
Townsend went on to say that continued good-faith negotiations with Iran risk serving as propaganda for the regime, allowing Iran to declare victory for every small concession.
She framed the argument in current events, looking at Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a logical conclusion of diminished U.S. international clout.
Townsend inferred that Russia would have been more reluctant to make such a bold move if the potential consequences from the United States — economic, military, or otherwise — had more believability.
Frances Townsend Saying
'Throughout history,' she wrote,
The United States has cemented its place in the geopolitical landscape as the dominant global power by advocating for democratic values and the rule of law not just with rhetoric, but with action.
Without action, she said, the externalities could be far-reaching.
Our government must stand by its sanctions on Iran or risk greater collateral damage than any foreign policy expert could even predict-she wrote
...and this statement is also positive when you see the Frances Townsend tweeter saying.
As it stands now, Townsend said,
Proposed deal by the Biden administration reportedly will not require Iran to destroy its supply of advanced centrifuges and will allow it to store them within its borders. This amounts to nuclear extortion against future American presidents who may seek to withdraw provisions from this present-day agreement.
Since the prior U.S. presidential administration pulled the U.S. out of the Iranian Nuclear Deal, the country has produced over 7,000 pounds of enriched uranium, compared to only about 660 pounds during the deal, which lifted certain economic sanctions for a controlled build.
White House Advisor Career Of The Frances Townsend
Frances Townsend has been involved in the United States justice or security apparatus — first at the Department of Justice and later at the White House — for almost 30 years, having spent 2004 through 2008 as the homeland security adviser.
She is currently involved with multiple organizations that are working to inform policymakers on issues related to the Iranian regime.
In addition to the Iran Threat Commission, Townsend was also part of a group of former U.S. officials who wrote an open letter to the House Security Committee to stop the passage of S.2992, more commonly known as the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, saying that some of the provisions within the bill would enable misinformation campaigns like the ones Iran tries to run to steer public opinion in their favor.
Frances Townsend ended her op-ed with The Hill by saying that if “Iran is a priority for our current government leaders, they would be wise to ask themselves whether an agreement made at gunpoint is one on which the world can rely.”