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Afghanistan, and Beyond

First, Egypt was decisively defeated by Israel on the battlefield, convincing Anwar Sadat that there was no possibility of wiping out Israel, and that any attempt to do it would be disastrous for his country.  Second, both the United States and the Soviet Union started designing a “peace” deal, and Sadat didn’t like the prospect of a renewed Soviet role in the region.  He was even prepared to talk directly to the Israelis.  So he went to Jerusalem.

Thus, contrary to Obama’s reconstruction of events in the 1970s, the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel was the result of an Israeli victory on the battlefield.  Just as the reconciliation process in Iraq was the result of an American military victory.  But the president and his advisers, special envoys and czars, can’t bring themselves to acknowledge that we defeated the terrorists in Iraq.  And that little political stratagem contributes to their blindness to the full dimensions of the terror war.

The terror war, like the destiny of the Middle East, revolves around Tehran, the engine of the terror network, the inspiration and paymaster of many jihadis, and the most likely candidate for nuclear status in the near future.  Alas, just as the Bush Administration never adopted an effective Iran policy, so the Obama Administration is marching in lockstep to the Bush music.  Despite all the talk about a “new strategy,” Iran policy hasn’t changed at all, with the exception of all the bragging about “finally talking” to them.  Obama’s Iran strategy is the same as Bush’s,  combining sanctions, defensive measures such as arresting and sometimes even killing Iranian Revolutionary Guards forces operating against our men and women on the battlefield, and other financial measures designed to “increase the pressure” on the mullahs.

These measures have not worked in the past, nor have the negotiations that every president since Jimmy Carter has conducted with Iran.  There is no reason to think they will succeed today.

Indeed, the Iranians have every reason to believe they can get most anything they want from America, and from America’s closest European ally, Great Britain.  Little noticed by Iran watchers, a week ago an Iranian-sponsored terror group in Iraq announced that a deal had been struck that would result in the staged releases of five British hostages in exchange for several terrorists held by American forces.  Not only that, but the Guardian reported that “Efforts to finalize the deal were a factor in Britain's move to re-engage publicly with Hezbollah's political wing in Lebanon this month.”

In simple English, we and the Brits appeased the Iranians on two levels: we released their killers and the Brits legitimized Hezbollah.

Iran now holds three American hostages: Robert Levinson, Roxana Saberi, and Esha Momeni.  Levinson is an ex-F.B.I. agent who disappeared a year ago while in Iran.  Saberi is a freelance journalist arrested in Iran at the end of January, and is now reportedly on a hunger strike in Evin Prison in Tehran.  Momeni, a graduate student from Cal State University, was conducting research on the Iranian women’s movement (a particularly sensitive theme for the regime), and was rounded up last October.

The Iranians have successfully manipulated Western policy for decades, and not only, as is often claimed, because they are clever tacticians.  Brutality is more characteristic of this regime, and hostage taking is one of their trademarks.  It works, in part because nobody has any doubt about their willingness to torture and kill Western hostages, whose bodies would unfortunately fill a good-sized morgue.  No wonder that Secretary of State Clinton gave the Iranians a letter about these unfortunate Americans.

It may not be entirely coincidental that Iran’s key Asian ally, North Korea, has just taken two American hostages.  They’re female journalists who work for Al Gore’s “Current TV.”  Do you think the president will refuse to listen to Gore when he begs for help for his people in that awful place?

Quite aside from the nuances of counterinsurgency warfare, nothing would so advance the cause of peace as the fall of the regime in Tehran, and its replacement by a government designed and elected by the Iranian people.  I have long believed that can be accomplished peacefully, by supporting a non-violent democratic revolution in Iran.  No American president in the last thirty years has attempted it, and most of them have acted as if they were actually afraid of supporting freedom for Iranians.  A young Iranian blogger, upon hearing Obama’s love video to the mullahs, reacted with an elegant mixture of sadness and pride:

...people have been tortured on the charges of having connections with the United States. Some have been silent thinking you will come to their rescue. At least Bush had the honesty to separate this regime from the people. How easy you play with the people card. Please do not talk about our people anymore. Engage the regime and leave us alone. We will free Iran, even when you are helping this occupying regime...

That’s the key issue.  It should come naturally to any American president, but it doesn’t.  I fear we’re going to pay a terrible price for this deliberate refusal to see evil right in front of our noses.  Negotiations are a very long shot, and sanctions have never compelled an enemy to change its policy.  If we do not support revolution, we will most likely get war, a war far greater and far more lethal than the one the mullahs have been waging against us since 1979.