Ted Cruz on Iran: Remember, He Was Wrong on the Corker-Cardin Bill

A recurrent campaign trail mantra (see here, here, here) spoken by Senator Ted Cruz has been:

As POTUS, I'll rip to shreds this catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal!

Senator Cruz’s vociferous declaration -- endlessly repeated -- fits within a context of the presidential aspirant’s understandings of Iranian Shiite society, and his actions vis-à-vis the Obama administration’s disastrous Iranian nuclear deal, that merit careful examination.

Such public scrutiny, which the senator has not received, reveals his inadequate grasp of Iran’s current Shiite Islamic religio-political milieu, and its roots in five centuries of Twelver Shiite doctrine and history. Related, but worse still, explicating the timeline of Senator Cruz’s statements and deeds pertaining to the Iranian nuclear agreement -- especially the Corker-Cardin bill -- demonstrates his abandonment of constitutional responsibility that undermines U.S. national security, and gravely threatens our only reliable Middle Eastern ally with shared Western values of liberty, and consensual government: Israel.

Three months ago, Senator Cruz elucidated his foreign policy views during a widely reported December 10, 2015 Heritage Foundation address. Attention to Cruz’s speech focused obsessively on his alleged attempt to “thread the needle between” the GOP’s so-called “hawkish and dovish factions.” But even neo-conservative critiques of Cruz’s concerted effort to distance himself from their failed Lewis Doctrine-inspired Middle Eastern nation building designs, ignored the senator’s support for one of their own shared delusions -- (Soylent) Green Movement led “regime change” in Iran.

Senator Cruz excoriated the Obama administration for what he deemed its “single greatest blunder,” when in 2009:

… the President [Obama] ignored the Green Revolution in Iran, thereby forfeiting an opportunity to replace the radical Islamist, terrorist-sponsoring regime in Tehran that chants ‘death to America’ and ‘death to Israel’ and pursues nuclear weapons, and instead America could have stood with a peaceful, secular rebellion that was crying out for support from the United States.

Doubling down on this condemnation, Cruz further invoked President Reagan’s iconic June 12, 1987 speech at the West Berlin Brandenburg Gate, which called upon then Soviet despot Gorbachev to dismantle the Berlin Wall, adding:

There was a case where regime change squared up with our most pressing national need. But instead of standing with the Iranian people in what could have been his ‘Tear down this wall’ moment, instead President Obama fell silent and decided to open up negotiations with the mullahs instead.

Cruz’s pronouncements were at odds with his own appropriate, if rather harsh criticism of “democracy promotion as an absolute directive.” Moreover his hagiography of the Green “Revolution” indicated a profound, delusive ignorance regarding the espoused ideology of the Green Movement’s religio-political leadership, specifically, and the current broader, Sharia-supportive opinions, and pro-nuclear development attitudes, of the vast preponderance of Iranian Shiites overall.

Ted Cruz’s warped assessment of the Green “Revolution” does not withstand any honest scrutiny of its leadership. The key figures in what I have the dubbed Soylent Green (an apt reference to the dystopian 1973 cult film) Movement, since 2009 (see here; here; here), were the late, eternal “spiritual inspiration” Ayatollah Montazeri (d. 2009), and active, remaining political leader Mir Hossein Mousavi. Cruz’s uninformed burbles reflect the hubristic ignorance of beltway policymaking elites, including his own senior foreign policy adviser, art historian Victoria Coates. This tragically prevalent ahistorical mentality entirely ignores -- as Coates just did in a 3/1/16 oped -- the living legacy of Shiite Islamic doctrine, and its authentic, oppressive application in Iran as a continuum since the advent of the Safavid theocratic state at the outset of the 16th century. Iran’s Safavid rulers, beginning with inveterate Muslim Jew-hater Shah Ismail I (r. 1501-1524), formally established Shiite Islam as the state religion while permitting a clerical hierarchy nearly unlimited control and influence over all aspects of public life.

The all-encompassing influence of the Shiite clerical elite continued for the next four centuries, although interrupted, between 1722-1795 (during a period precipitated by [Sunni] Afghan invasion [starting in 1719], and the subsequent attempt to re-cast Twelver Shiism as simply another Sunni school of Islamic Law, under Nadir Shah) through the later Qajar period (1795-1925), as characterized by Persian literature scholar and historian E.G. Browne:

The Mujtahids [an eminent, very learned Muslim jurist/scholar who is qualified to interpret the law] and Mulla [a scholar, not of Mujtahid stature] are a great force in Persia and concern themselves with every department of human activity from the minutest detail of personal purification to the largest issues of politics.

A thorough evaluation of Montazeri’s recorded modern opinions demonstrates his pious adherence to traditionalist Iranian Shiism during the Safavid-Qajar eras, and since the retrograde Khomeini “revolution,” following Iran’s relatively brief 20th century dalliance with Western secularism under the Pahlavi Shahs (from 1925-1979). Ayatollah Montazeri’s copiously documented views -- his Shiite Islamic juridical writings, memoirs, interviews, and speeches -- reveal unequivocally the following:

  • Full-throated support for open-ended, aggressive jihad warfare to destroy Israel, fight the U.S., and establish global Islamic suzerainty, and the universal application of Sharia;

  • Application of an ugly, najis (i.e., non-Muslim infidel spiritual and physical “impurity”)-based Islamic order within Iran, openly antithetical to Western conceptions of individual liberty, religious freedom (i.e., including advocacy of the death penalty for “blasphemy”), and democracy;

  • Continued (per interviews Montazeri gave in 2003 and 2006) support for Sharia supremacism, sharing the current Iranian regime’s opinion about (and negotiating tactics for procuring) the Islamic Republic’s “right” to pursue “peaceful” nuclear technology, and re-affirming his bigoted, strident opposition to Israel’s mere existence.

An objective assessment of Mir Hossein Mousavi’s opinions demonstrates his great fidelity to Montazeri’s Weltanschauung. Across the gamut of critical issues -- jihadism/Sharia-supremacism, violent anti-Americanism and annihilationist anti-“Zionism” (i.e., Jew-hatred), and active support for Iran’s nuclear aspirations: Mousavi’s views mirror those of Montazeri.