Friday, August 18, 2006

Why Iran Does Not Fear the U.S.

Weakness, vacillation and appeasement only invites more terrorism. Here's proof:

From: "American Can't Do a Thing"

...The Carter administration went out of its way to support the new regime in Tehran. A ban imposed on the sale of arms and materiel to Iran, imposed in 1978, was lifted, and a 1954 presidential "finding" by Dwight Eisenhower was dusted off to reaffirm Washington's commitment to defending Iran against Soviet or other threats.

Also to symbolize support for the mullahs, President Carter initially rejected a visa application for the exiled shah to travel to New York for medical treatment.

Just weeks after the mullahs' regime was formed, Brzezinski traveled to Morocco to meet Mehdi Bazargan, Ayatollah Khomeini's first prime minister. At the meeting, Brzezinski invited the new Iranian regime to enter into a strategic partnership with the United States. Bazargan, concerned that the Iranian left might bid for power against the still wobbly regime of the mullahs, was "ecstatic" about the American offer.

The embassy raid came just days after the Brzezinski-Bazargan meeting in Morocco and, by all accounts, took Khomeini by surprise. It is now clear that leftist groups opposed to rapprochement with the United States had inspired the raid.

Khomeini saw it as a leftist ploy to undermine his authority. He was also concerned about the possibility of the United States taking strong military and political action against his still fragile regime.

Deciding to hedge his bets, the ayatollah played a double game for several days, waiting to gauge the American reaction.

According to his late son Ahmad, who had been asked to coordinate with the embassy-raiders, the ayatollah feared "thunder and lightning" from Washington. But what came, instead, was a series of bland statements by Carter and his aides pleading for the release of the hostages on humanitarian grounds.

Carter's envoy to the United Nations, a certain Andrew Young, described Khomeini as "a 20th-century saint," and begged the ayatollah to show "magnanimity and compassion."

Carter went further by sending a letter to Khomeini.

Written in longhand, it was an appeal from "one believer to a man of God."

Carter's syrupy prose must have amused Khomeini, who preferred a minimalist style with such phrases as "we shall cut off America's hands."

As days passed, with the U.S. diplomats paraded in front of TV cameras blindfolded and threatened with execution, it became increasingly clear that there would be no "thunder and lightning" from Washington. By the end of the first week of the drama (which was to last for 444 days, ending as Ronald Reagan entered the White House), Khomeini's view of America had changed.

Ahmad Khomeini's memoirs echo the surprise that his father, the ayatollah, showed, as the Carter administration behaved "like a headless chicken."

What especially surprised Khomeini was that Cater and his aides, notably Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, rather than condemning the seizure and the treatment of the hostages as a barbarous act, appeared apologetic for unspecified mistakes supposedly committed by the United States and asked for forgiveness and magnanimity.

Once he had concluded that America would not take any meaningful action against his regime, Khomeini took over control of the hostage enterprise and used it to prop up his "anti-imperialist" credentials while outflanking the left.

The surprising show of weakness from Washington also encouraged the mullahs and the hostage-holders to come up with a fresh demand each day. Started as a revolutionary gesture, the episode soon led to a demand for the United States to capture and hand over the shah for trial. When signals came that Washington might actually consider doing so, other demands were advanced. The United States was asked to apologize to Muslim peoples everywhere and, in effect, change its foreign policy to please the ayatollah.

Matters worsened when a military mission to rescue the hostages ended in tragedy in the Iranian desert. The force dispatched by Carter fled under the cover of night, leaving behind the charred bodies of eight of their comrades.

In his memoirs, Ahmad nicely captures the mood of his father, who had expected the Americans to do "something serious," such as threatening to block Iran's oil exports or even firing a few missiles at the ayatollah's neighborhood.

But not only did none of that happen, the Carter administration was plunged into internal feuds as Vance resigned in protest of the rescue attempt.

It was then that Khomeini coined his notorious phrase, "America cannot do a damn thing."

He also ordered that the slogan "Death to America" be inscribed in all official buildings and vehicles. The U.S. flag was to be painted at the entrance of airports, railway stations, ministries, factories, schools, hotels and bazaars so that the faithful could trample it under their feet every day.

The slogan "America cannot do a damn thing" became the basis of all strategies worked out by Islamist militant groups, including those opposed to Khomeini.

That slogan was tested and proved right for almost a quarter of a century. Between Nov. 4, 1979, and 9/11, a total of 671 Americans were held hostage for varying lengths of time in several Muslim countries. Nearly 1,000 Americans were killed, including 241 Marines blown up while sleeping in Beirut in 1983.

For 22 years the United States, under presidents from both parties, behaved in exactly the way that Khomeini predicted. It took countless successive blows, including the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York, without decisive retaliation. That attitude invited, indeed encouraged, more attacks.

The 9/11 tragedy was the denouement of the Nov. 4 attack on the U.S. embassy in Tehran.

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