President Barack Obama’s recent video message to Iranians and their ruling mullahs for the Persian new year was both kind and heartfelt. Norouz, the Persian new year, has been celebrated by Iranians for almost 3,000 years. Norouz means new day and it represents two symbolic ancient concepts: end and rebirth — or end of evil and rebirth of good.
But the ruling mullahs in Iran are trying to usurp our Persian heritage and replace it with Arab/Islamic events. They have even tried to ban the new year celebration, calling it un-Islamic. If it were not for the courage and resistance of Iranians, our new year would have been replaced with an Islamic event just like the many other social changes since the Iranian Revolution.
Forcing Iranians to adhere to a strict Islamic dress code is the least of it. We have been subjected to amputation as the punishment for stealing, lashing for drinking, stoning for adultery, and execution by hanging from cranes for speaking against our rulers. Just days ago, Ayatollah Mohammad Mohammadi Gilani was awarded the highest judicial honor for his 30 years of service to the Islamic Republic. As the chief judge of the Revolutionary Courts, he ordered that demonstrators be killed and virgin girls be raped prior to execution so they could not go to heaven. He called the torture and killing of male and female opponents of the regime fair and just. All for no other reason than they violated the Islamic law as viewed by the mullahs.
President Obama’s comments may be well-intentioned, but like previous U.S. presidents, he ignores the ideology behind the mullahs’ regime. The mullahs’ view of Islam is based on Sharia, Islamic law that condemns as enemies of God all those who oppose them and all those who don’t believe in Allah. The mullahs believe in jihad or holy war for Islam, shahadat (martyrdom), and mahdaviat (the coming of the Shiites’ 12th imam to usher in Armageddon.) They believe that justice can only be served by killing the infidels and raising the flag of Islam worldwide.
These beliefs shape the mullahs’ jihadist policies. And therein lies the reason that U.S. presidents have not managed to succeed in negotiations with Tehran — either through secret or open channels — since the 1979 Iranian Revolution. President Jimmy Carter failed to negotiate the release of American hostages in Iran after the U.S Embassy in Tehran takeover. President Reagan failed to improve relations and failed to release American hostages held in Lebanon in exchange for arms. President George H. W. Bush failed in his secret negotiations with Hashemi Rafsanjani, going as far as recognizing him as the new leader of Iran. President Bill Clinton failed to improve relations when he met Iranian demands, removed sanctions, and apologized to the Iranian government for past U.S. behavior toward Iran. And President George W. Bush failed with his constant threats, which saw no follow-through.
The lesson of America’s failed carrot-and-stick foreign policy toward Iran is clear: Carrots don’t work; sticks work only if there is a follow-through.
The mullahs have backed down only once. Reagan had just about had it with the mullahs after his failed negotiations with them. Iran would not accept peace with Iraq and constantly threatened the flow of oil through the Persian Gulf. Reagan ordered attacks on the Iranian oil fields and naval units in the Persian Gulf. A top Revolutionary Guards commander told me, “A message has been sent by Reagan that if we do not accept peace [with Iraq] immediately, they will nuke us.” It was only then that Ayatollah Khomeini caved in and ended the Iran-Iraq war.