The Iranian Assassination Plot: Islamic Statecraft

The foiled Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States illustrates the cultural fault line that divides the Islamic world from the West -- and the contempt with which the Iranians hold the Obama administration.

Killing a diplomatically protected person in the nation’s capital is a severe violation of international, as well as American, law. Even for the Islamic regime of Iran, which has conducted assassinations all over the world, it was an unprecedented action. Iran has never before been so bold as to consider an assassination in the American capital, especially one by explosion that would result in numerous additional casualties. Until now, Iran has conducted assassinations in countries where it felt it was unlikely to get caught or be subject to retaliation. This new tactic is an indelible statement of Iran’s contempt for the current administration.

A nation’s external statecraft is a function of its cultural values. Its embrace of international law will depend on how it perceives the international community’s legal structure reflects its own values. In Islam, there is a long tradition that treaties are expedient devices to gain advantage, and the idea of a transcendent legal system is irrelevant if it does not advance the cause of Islam. After all, Mohammed’s treaty with the Koresh tribe of Mecca, which was conveniently discarded once Mohammed bought sufficient time to conquer the city, is cited even by Muslims as an example.

It was no accident that in 1979 the American embassy and diplomatically protected persons were seized by the Iranian revolutionaries, and the new Islamic government did nothing to honor its legal obligations to protect the embassy or its personnel. Indeed, the Islamic government of Iran itself eventually became complicit in the embassy takeover.

The Iranian government was making a statement, one it continues to make, and one which the Obama administration is incapable of hearing: the Iranian government does not perceive international law or any Western-based institutional system as legitimate. This is the same statement that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the underwear bomber, made when he pleaded guilty in a Detroit court of attempting to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight. Abdulmutallab claimed that he was not guilty under Islamic law, and was only pleading guilty because he was in an American courtroom governed by American law.

This was the mindset of Yasser Arafat, when in the wake of having signed the Oslo accords, he hastened to tell Arab audiences -- in Arabic -- that he had in actuality signed the Peace of Mecca, the peace Mohammed signed with the Koresh tribe.

Weeks ago, the Egyptian government withheld protection of the Israeli embassy from a bloodthirsty mob until President Obama himself directly intervened with the Egyptians. Prior to that moment, the Egyptian government was perfectly content to ignore its legal obligation to protect a foreign embassy, even when it meant the embassy personnel would be slaughtered.

The authentic voice of the Arab Spring is not seen in the MSM hype or the Obama administration depiction of democracy breaking out in Tahrir Square, but in the rape of journalist Lara Logan. The charade of the Arab Spring is revealed in the brain-splattered head of a Coptic Christian, who was one of dozens of Christians purposely crushed by military vehicles as they repeatedly sped through the crowd mauling demonstrators.