Admiral Michael Mullen’s recent announcement that Iran is sending weapons to our enemies in Iraq, including rockets and explosively formed projectiles designed to penetrate armor, is almost a foreign policy dog-bites-man story. Ever since it declared war on the United States over 30 years ago, Iran has stained its hands with American blood. And ever since, we have refused to take seriously and respond to this aggression.
The architect of the Iranian Islamist Revolution, the Ayatollah Khomeini, proved from the start that his talk of the U.S. as the “Great Satan” was more than mere rhetoric, and his injunction to “kill all the unbelievers” was a call to action. The first act of war was the seizure of our embassy in Tehran and the holding of 52 or our citizens for 444 days. More important was the damage to our international prestige that followed the failure to punish this aggression, and the payment of ransom by Jimmy Carter. Next came the April 1983 bombing of the U.S. embassy in Beirut by Islamic Jihad that killed 17. Like Hezbollah, which proclaimed Khomeini its “one leader, wise and just,” Islamic Jihad was one of the many terrorist outfits nurtured by Iran in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. This attack was followed in a few months by the Marine barracks bombing in Beirut, which killed 241 military personnel. This slaughter was perpetrated by Iranian-trained terrorists, as an Iranian high official would admit later: “In Lebanon, we trained the people who drove a bomb into the American Marine barracks,” and though denying that Iran gave the order, he revealed, “When we heard about the bomb, we were happy.”
After the U.S. cut and run from Lebanon, Iranian terrorist proxies bombed embassies in Kuwait and Beirut, killed 18 U.S. servicemen in Spain, and murdered several other Americans in plane hijackings and in attacks on airports in Rome and Vienna. Americans were kidnapped and held for ransom, including CIA station chief William Buckley, who would be tortured and beaten to death by the architect of the Beirut barracks bombing, Imad Fayez Mugniyah. Iran’s reward was the disastrous Iran-Contra scheme of 1985-86, which ransomed American hostages by selling advanced weaponry to the same regime that had American blood on its hands and that was sponsoring the kidnappers.
Iran’s war via terrorist proxies continued in the nineties. Al Qaeda operatives received training in explosives, security, and intelligence in the Bekaa Valley, one of the trainers being the same Mugniyah who had murdered the Marines in Beirut. According to the 9⁄11 Commission Report, “there is strong evidence that Iran facilitated the transit of al Qaeda members into and out of Afghanistan before 9⁄11, and that some of these were future 9⁄11 highjackers.” Recently, two defectors from Iran’s intelligence service have said the regime had advanced knowledge of the attacks, and helped al Qaeda members escape to Iran afterwards. The 2008 attack on the U.S. embassy in Yemen was aided by Iran, and two U.S. citizens continue to be held on trumped-up charges of “spying.” And throughout the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan the Iranian Revolutionary Guards have supplied insurgents with training and funds, as well as Russian anti-aircraft missiles, rocket-propelled grenades, 240mm rockets, and explosively formed projectiles. Just last year, General Petraeus testified that al Qaeda “continues to use Iran as a key facilitation hub, where facilitators connect al Qaeda’s senior leadership to regional affiliates.” Dozens of Al Qaeda leaders continue to find operational shelter in Iran. And of course, Iran is still relentlessly pursuing nuclear weapons capability, at which point it will be placed to take its 30-year war to a new gruesome level.
This catalogue of Iranian aggression is the necessary context for Mullen’s statement, and makes his revelation that “Iran is very directly supporting extremist Shiite groups which are killing our troops” a statement of the painfully obvious. Nor should we be surprised when a fanatical regime that publicly declared war on us acts on that declaration, particularly given the groveling appeasement with which this aggression continues to be met. Channelling Jimmy Carter and Neville Chamberlain, Obama has extended his diplomatic hand to the mullahs “without preconditions,” penned congratulatory letters to commemorate Iranian holidays, called for “co-operation in regional and bilateral relations,” given the regime a pass on its brutal June 2009 crackdown on Iranians protesting against the regime, imposed Swiss-cheese sanctions, and in the face of proven Iranian duplicity about its nuclear program insisted, “We remain committed to serious, meaningful engagement with Iran,” and the “offer stands” of “greater international integration if [Iran] lives up to its obligations.”
This misplaced diplomatic “outreach” reminds me of something Duff Cooper, First Lord of the Admiralty in Neville Chamberlain’s cabinet, said after the 1938 Munich conference: “The Prime Minister has believed in addressing Herr Hitler through the language of sweet reasonableness. I have believed that he was more open to the language of the mailed fist.” Given a similar misapprehension of the enemy, of course Iran continues to shed American blood and work against our interests. The more important story is why for 30 years both Republican and Democratic administrations have refused to accept the wisdom of the farmer in the Russian fable: “I only talk peace with wolves after I have skinned them.”
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