The Continued Failure of U.S. Iran Policy
The Unites States’ failure to deal effectively with Iran began during the administration of Jimmy Carter when the United States restrained the shah from using “excessive force” against the Khomeinist revolutionaries. This resulted in the overthrow of the monarchy and the establishment of the radical Islamic Republic of Iran.
Zbigniew Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter’s national security advisor, advised the president not to deal harshly with Ayatollah Khomeini and his cohorts lest a split occur within the Islamic opposition to the Russian presence in Afghanistan. At the time, both Democrats and Republicans considered the Islamists as a weapon against Soviet Communism and its local clients.
Few among today’s Capitol Hill legislators, and even fewer in the Obama administration, recognize the fact that U.S. credibility and deterrence are being compromised by the current U.S. policy towards Iran. The Arab Gulf states and Lebanon are hedging their bets on Iran emerging as the winner, and Saudi Arabia is also slowly moving towards Tehran, frustrated by America’s demonstrated weakness toward the Iranian mullahs.
Iran was offered a deal last October that would require it to transfer 70% of its stock of low-enriched uranium (LEU) abroad (to Russia and France) in return for fuel for a medical research reactor. The United States gave the Iranians a deadline of December 31, 2009, to come to terms.
Long delayed, the Iranians responded by sending a memo to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), rejecting key parts of the draft deal to ship most of its enriched uranium abroad. Iran has thus made a mockery of the U.S. deadline to accept the October deal.
The Iranian regime has proven to the world just how easy it is to defy the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) without suffering any consequences. Tehran knows that the UN Security Council will not approve tougher sanctions against it. China has invested billions of dollars in the Iranian oil and gas industries, and hence would veto such sanctions. Russia, which is also heavily invested in Iran, would also not approve tougher sanctions. Moreover, Moscow takes pleasure in humiliating the U.S.
Iran knows all too well that once it is in possession of a nuclear weapon, it would deter any future U.S. military action and leave the mullahs free to stir up even greater troubles for Washington in Iraq and Afghanistan, for Israel in Gaza and from Lebanon, and for the Arab Gulf states.
The Obama administration created a difficult situation and it is ultimately limited to two choices: either bombing Iran or living with a nuclear Iran. It has allowed Tehran to ignore every deadline, while continuing a policy of appeasement.
Sky News reported on July 22, 2009, that U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton “has warned America might cope with a nuclear Iran by arming U.S. allies in the Gulf and extending a 'defense umbrella' over the region." Typical of the Obama administration’s appeasement policies, she added that “we will still hold the door open (for talks with Iran).”
In his new book Accomplice to Evil: Iran and the War against the West, PJM's Michael Ledeen points out those future students of international relations will be outraged by the persistence of American presidents in appeasing the hostile mullahs and their desperate attempts to reach an agreement with the the Islamic state since 1979.
The Clinton administration sought a mega-deal with Iran by lifting sanctions previously imposed and publicly apologizing to the Iranian mullahs for America’s misdeeds towards Tehran (as President Obama is currently doing). The Iranian supreme leader, remaining steadfast in his position, has rebuffed these gestures and in so doing exposed our weaknesses and their contempt.
President George W. Bush also made an effort to reach a deal with Iran in 2008. Jack Straw, Britain's foreign secretary at the time, persuaded former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that the Iranians were ready to halt uranium enrichment in exchange for the West lifting its sanctions against Iran. The Bush administration, believing it had a deal, prepared for Rice to make a statement attesting to the agreement at the UN General Assembly in September of that year.
This brief game of self-deception came to an end with the address of Iranian President Ahmadinejad at the General Assembly. He spoke of the coming of the 12th Imam -- the Shiite messiah -- and the ensuing Muslim domination of the world, but there was not a word about ending the uranium enrichment.
It is not that the U.S. lacks options. The military option is certainly available. The U.S. has the forces to eliminate both the nuclear weapons and the current repressive regime. Washington could also arm and train the Iranian minorities against the regime. It has chosen neither. The Obama administration failed to support the Iranian opposition following the rigged August elections. It shudders at the thought of forcing a regime change in Iran because of political correctness, a signature value of this administration.
Iranian minorities who comprise more than half of the population are in a state of rebellion against the regime, ready to spill their blood to end the rule of the repressive regime and Ahamdinejad, a despised and unlawful president. The people are taking up arms against the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, killing and getting killed in the process. The Arabs of Ahwaz attempted and nearly succeeded in assassinating Ahmadinejad a few years ago.
And yet the Obama administration, like previous administrations, continues with policies of dishonor, sacrificing American deterrence and credibility. To the Iranians and Middle Eastern Arabs, America appears weak and unwilling to fight the Iranian mullahs. The situation is reminiscent of Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler and the Nazis.