Don't Tell Me You Were Surprised at Iran's Operation
What? There was nothing surprising, let alone "brazen," about the Iranian attempt to assassinate the Saudi ambassador, or to blow up the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Washington. It is, after all, what they do. No new "red line" has been crossed. This is simply business as usual for the Tehran regime, you know, the one with which president Obama was so confident he could reach a good working relationship.
If you thought -- as so many of the overnight experts have declared -- that there was anything new about Iranian terrorists operating on American soil, forget it. Iranian agents have been busy in this country for quite some time. Just ask the FBI, who within the past few years broke up a very worrisome group of radical Muslims in Washington, D.C., who were receiving weapons from the Iranians. We have been aware of Iranian sleeper cells in the United States, often working in tandem with narcotics traffickers (Iran, after all, is very busy at the Afghan source of the global opium supply), for many years, and it's not surprising that DEA had such a strong grip on the investigation. Surely the Bureau and the Agency were not surprised to find Iran in cahoots with (what the Iranians thought was) drug runners in the United States.
And for those who have scratched their heads and asked out loud how such smart people in Tehran could have done such a "stupid" thing, just think about the monumental mess these stupid people have made of their own country. Iran has lots of advantages, from natural resources to an educational system that was once one of the region's finest, but the mullahs have wrecked the place. This by you is smart? Not by me. I think they're fanatical buffoons, who are working feverishly to make their country even worse by enforcing gender segregation on a scale even a Saudi morals policeman could envy.
Most of the important lessons to be learned from this event have not been mentioned so far. Here are a few of them:
First, even if the assassination had taken place, it would not have been an act of war against the United States. It would have been a crime, to be sure, and if we had caught the assassin we would have prosecuted him, but not for attacking the United States of America. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia might have considered that an act of war against them.
Second, if you are interested in identifying Iranian acts of war against the United States, there is a target-rich environment for you to mine. Iran declared war on the United States in 1979, and has waged war against us, our citizens, and especially our military – wherever they are located – ever since. Although most of the pundit class rejected my evidence of Iranian complicity, command, and control of thousands of attacks against American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, no informed person any longer doubts that evidence, which has now been reiterated and expanded by American officials from the White House to the Pentagon.
Those are all acts of war, but no one has cared enough about them to catalyze a sensible American response (about which more shortly).
Third, despite a welter of doubletalk from the administration, it is ridiculous to speculate that such an operation could be carried out without the explicit approval of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, to whom the commanders of the Quds Force report. Indeed, as my brilliant colleague Tom Joscelyn has reported, the top man in Quds, General Suleimani, sits atop the chain of command for this operation, and he is an intimate of Khamenei.
So, to answer the often-asked question (how could the leaders of the Iranian regime have approved such a provocative action in this country?): they do not fear us, they do not believe that Obama is capable of doing anything that would threaten their grip on power, and they viewed the operation as both a provocation and a humiliation of him and his administration. So far, the pathetic lack of anything approaching a serious response – not even a hint of support for regime change in Tehran -- combined with empty ritualistic incantations a la "nothing is off the table" suggest that their assessment is correct.
So what's the bottom line? The same as it has been for 32 years. Iran is at war with us. We have yet to respond. Our best response is to support democratic revolution in Iran and bring down this murderous regime. The longer we dither, the more ambitious they will become, until one day some president, perhaps even this one, fearful of going down in history as a monumental coward, will take the military option from that tabletop and unleash it, thereby demonstrating the utter failure of decades of American non-policy.