Brooke: Mark Dubowitz is the CEO for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Mark, thank you so much for coming on. I wanted to talk to you specifically because you and your organization know all too well what it’s like to be a target of Iran’s, and I know, I’ve read your organization has described this as a badge of honor. I know that you through this ordeal were in touch with the FBI. What was it really like to have that kind of bullseye on your back?
Mark: Well Brooke, thanks for having me on. Yeah, Brooke look, it was obviously very concerning when the leading state sponsor or terrorism that’s been responsible for assassinations and terrorist campaigns around the world for decades puts a bullseye on your back and believes that a guy who runs a think tank represents a national security threat to the Islamic Republic of Iran. So, we’re obviously hardening our defenses, we’re in touch with the FBI, we’re taking it seriously. But we’re also redoubling our efforts to explain to Americans why this is such a dangerous and threatening regime.
Brooke: So since you have that experience, I mean you know, you’ve seen what’s happened, you’ve also tweeted that Soleimani’s death is bigger than the deaths of Osama bin Laden and Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, and you also called him “irreplaceable.” So given that you have experienced first hand Iranian retaliation and given the stakes now, what kind of consequences could the U.S. be facing here?
Mark: Well obviously, the consequences could be quite severe. Iran has been at war with us for forty years since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Unfortunately, we haven’t taken that war as seriously as we need to. I mean they’ve obviously killed and maimed thousands of Americans as well as hundreds of thousands of Middle Easterners and Europeans and others. Their abilities in the Middle East are quite profound and Qassem Soleimani really represented that. I mean, he was in some respects a combination of the CIA director, the Foreign Minister or Secretary of State, and the commander of Joint Special Operations Command. He had all those roles together and so he really was uniquely and profoundly important to the Islamic Republic. I think their ability to strike back at us will be undermined by his death but they certainly retained some pretty waring capabilities.
Brooke: I suppose the obvious question is, you know, is this administration prepared to handle it. Because you have worked with this White House in the past, do you think they have a plan for whatever the next steps may be?
Mark: Yeah, I’ve worked with three administrations on Iran policy and certainly three administrations have had plans they’ve also seen those plans go out the window as they face increased Iranian escalation. I think this administration has a plan, it’s called maximum pressure. I think they’ve been implementing it that plan quite vigorously over the past three years and I think what we saw, which was surprising, a couple days ago is that the maximum pressure campaign which had really been an economic campaign with doubling down on the sanction’s pressure, has now turned into one using military pressure and has turned into one using military force and trying to reestablish the military deterrence that I think had been so significantly undermined over the past three, if not more, administrations as we didn’t respond to Iranian violence with proper measures and proper deterrence.
Brooke: So that sounds like we don’t know. We don’t know, only the administration knows if we have a plan moving forward and what that retaliation may look like. Mark Dubowitz, thank you so much, of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. I appreciate your insight.