Through Detailed Research and Insightful Discourse, Professor Tanter Shed Light on the Essence of the Iranian Resistance
WASHINGTON DC, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, USA, August 18, 2023 — On August 12, 2023, the US Representative Office of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI-US) held a memorial reception in honor of the late Professor Raymond Tanter at Georgetown University, where he taught. Remembered as a loving father, treasured friend, instinctive educator, distinguished scholar, and unwavering champion for the Iranian people’s quest for freedom and democracy, Professor Tanter’s life was celebrated, and his legacy honored.
In the early 1980s, Dr. Tanter served on the National Security Council staff and was the personal representative of the Secretary of Defense to arms control talks in various countries. He distinguished himself as a beloved teacher at the University of Michigan’s Department of Political Science. In addition, he taught at Georgetown University, Stanford, Northwestern, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He was a Council on Foreign Relations member, an adjunct scholar at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and a scholar-in-residence at the Middle East Institute.
A statesman of seasoned wisdom, Professor Tanter possessed a unique insight into the unforgiving nature of the Iranian regime and its far-reaching implications on the world stage.”Soona Samsami, NCRI’s U.S. Representative
Professor Tanter was a fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford and the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington and a Fulbright scholar at the University of Amsterdam. In later years, he turned to his wealth of expertise in focusing, among other areas, on Iran’s complexities.
From 2003 onward, Professor Tanter’s meticulous research, insightful publications, and compelling policy addresses illuminated the essence of the Iranian Resistance. His unparalleled efforts in exposing the Iranian regime’s deceptive campaigns to beguile the West, including a demonization campaign against the democratic opposition coalition, NCRI, and its principal component, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI) – also known as the MEK – stand as a testament to his dedication.
The memorial gathering was graced by Professor Tanter’s devoted family, several figures from Washington’s foreign policy circle, prominent leaders from the Iranian American communities, and families of residents of Ashraf-3, which houses thousands of MEK members in Albania. Video messages of tribute to Professor Tanter and his legacy from many Iranian scholars and academics from across the United States who were closely familiar with his work were also presented.
At the onset of the memorial event, the message of condolences of Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the NCRI’s President-elect, was delivered. The following is the text of her message:
“It was with profound sorrow and a heart weighted with grief that I learned of the passing of a stalwart friend of the Iranian Resistance, Professor Raymond Tanter. His unwavering dedication to our cause has been an enduring pillar in our struggle. As a seasoned government official with a depth of political experience, Professor Tanter was acutely cognizant of the ruthless character of the Iranian regime.
“An eminent author, Professor Tanter bequeathed a valuable literary legacy that highlighted the resilience of the Iranian Resistance and the inherent dangers posed by the Iranian regime. His insightful books and incisive writings will forever be inscribed in the annals of the Iranian people’s ceaseless pursuit of liberty.
“In times of turmoil and trial, Professor Tanter stood by us as a steadfast ally. When faced with the orchestrated attempts by the mullahs and their U.S. lobbyists to uphold the unjust designation of the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) on the Foreign Terrorist Organization’s list, Professor Tanter’s impactful media engagement, astute political and legal endeavors, his proactive participation in press conferences, and his bold exposés of the regime contributed significantly to rectifying this misjudgment and securing the revocation of the MEK and the National Council of Resistance of Iran‘s (NCRI) designation in the United States.
“His journeys to Ashraf-1 in Iraq stand testament to his profound commitment. With great perseverance, he endeavored to guarantee the safety of MEK members residing in Iraq, embodying an unwavering beacon of hope in seemingly insurmountable circumstances.
“As I offer a prayer for his soul, I am imbued with the confidence that his indomitable spirit will be with us on the day of liberation. May his extraordinary life and invaluable contributions echo in the annals of our resistance, and may he find eternal peace.”
Opening remarks were presented by Ms. Soona Samsami, the U.S. Representative of the NCRI, and Alireza Jafarzadeh, the deputy director of the NCRI’s Washington office. Additionally, Professor Ivan Sascha Sheehan, Ph.D., Associate Dean, College of Public Affairs, University of Baltimore, Colonel (Ret.), U.S. Army Wes Martin, former Senior Antiterrorism Officer – Iraq, Mr. Ed Stafford, a former State Department official, and several esteemed members of the Iranian diaspora shared their heartfelt tributes, emphasizing Professor Tanter’s invaluable contributions and lasting impact.
Expressing her gratitude to the Tanter family for joining the memorial, Ms. Samsami said, “Throughout the years, thru conferences and meetings, I observed Professor Tanter’s life journey marked by a fervent pursuit of knowledge, impassioned mentoring of young minds, a distinguished career in public service, formulation of prudent policy directives concerning Tehran’s theocratic regime, and wholehearted advocacy for the Iranian populace and their organized Resistance… in their efforts to uproot the terrorist regime in Tehran and replace it with a secular, democratic, and non-nuclear republic… Dr. Tanter’s contributions illuminated the path toward understanding and empowerment. He advanced public education about Iran’s principal opposition movement, the MEK, and the broader coalition of the National Council of Resistance of Iran. At every juncture, he ardently and gracefully engaged in a battle of ideas, fortified by fact-based analyses, to counteract the regime’s extensive and global campaign of demonization against the MEK.”
NCRI-US’s deputy director Alireza Jafarzadeh remarked, “We are honored by the presence of Professor Tanter’s family. Thank you for coming. We are here to honor and celebrate a great life–the life of someone whose impact has been on the minds and hearts of many. As a stalwart academic, Raymond Tanter made a tremendous contribution to unearthing the truth about Iran, the Iranian regime, and those who seek to replace it with democracy and human rights.”
“I remember him telling me that on one of his trips to Europe, he had met with a group of mothers who had lost their children due to the mass killings of political prisoners in Iran and that these mothers had taken out the pictures of their slain children from their purses and shown them to him. He said, “I saw the pain in these mothers’ eyes, and I cried.” He repeatedly said that he would never forget those mothers. And I felt that by mentioning this encounter, he was reemphasizing his commitment to helping the people of Iran to free their nation.
“He was also inspired by the bravery of the freedom fighters in Ashraf, so he risked traveling to Camp Ashraf in Iraq in October 2008 with no government protection and seeing things for himself. He met several times with Mrs. Maryam Rajavi because he said he wanted to pose his questions and hear the answers from her. After these interactions, Professor Tanter once observed that “I believe Mrs. Rajavi plays her leadership role by listening to others.”
Professor Sheehan, who has succeeded Prof. Tanter as the president of the Iran Policy Committee, also shared more insights into the life of the Georgetown University professor as a teacher, scholar, and statesman. Extending his deepest condolences to the Tanter family, he said:
“I only came to know Professor Tanter later in his life – beginning in the early 2000s – when he became a prominent voice on US-Iran policy. It was nevertheless impossible to be a student of Political Science in the 1980s or 1990s and not be familiar with the name Raymond Tanter…
“Over the course of his career, Professor Tanter’s empirical work increased our understanding of revolution in international politics. He also examined theory and policy in international relations, modeled global conflict, explored sanctions as an instrument for deterrence, and utilized rational choice theory as a means for explaining US policy in Iran and proliferation on a global scale…
“His focus on rogue regimes –particularly his assessments of the threats posed by Iran – made him an enemy of the ayatollahs – but highly sought after in Washington. His scholarly work was influential for three principal reasons: (1) It was evidence-based; (2) It had conviction; and (3) His policy prescriptions were bipartisan.
“It should be said that though Professor Tanter did clearly have political leanings, he was a statesman and not a partisan. He believed that facts should speak for themselves. And he believed that evidence should inform ideology, not the other way around.
“Raymond Tanter believed in the Iranian opposition because he believed in the benefits of democracy as a form of government. He believed in the Iranian resistance because he understood that the facts were on their side and because he believed in the power of ideas and ideals.
“Whether it was working on the National Security Council, educating generations of students, or influencing US policy, Raymond Tanter led a life of public service – always giving back, trying to make a difference, hoping that he was having an impact. Tonight, as we celebrate his life and honor his commitments, I trust that Professor Tanter is looking down on us, smiling, prodding us not to forget his many accomplishments, and hoping that we carry his legacy forward.”
Colonel Wes Martin, who closely worked with Raymond Tanter on averting a humanitarian crisis in Camp Ashraf in Iraq and ensuring its residents’ rights as protected persons after 2003, shared some of his memorable moments. Ed Stafford, who handled the Ashraf case during his time at the State Department, also shared some thoughts about Professor Tanter, whom he had worked with over the humanitarian situation in Ashraf, given the latter’s vast knowledge of the history of the region, Iraq, the Iranian Resistance, and the Iranian’s regime multi-faceted meddling in Iraq.
In closing, Mr. Jafarzadeh said, “I borrow from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who once said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Dr. Tanter’s fierce dedication to voicing truth and injustice was representative of his very essence. It is why his spirit feels palpably near, prompting us to honor his life and his profound contributions with a profound passion. On the day of triumph of the liberation of Iran, his spirit will be celebrating alongside us.”
National Council of Resistance of Iran – US Representative Office (NCRI-US)