As the economic noose tightens around Tehran, Americans and fellow Westerners are left in a state of watchful waiting, carefully observing the state of Iranian domestic society and covertly assessing its nuclear program. As sanctions levied by the West take hold and the Iranian economy slows, the regime of the Islamic Republic will begin to feel the pressure from a dissatisfied public and alter its behavior—or so the theory goes. If the narrative of Western political leaders holds true, sanctions will lead to the discontinuation of the Iranian nuclear programs. The goal of statecraft, however, is not to mitigate nuclear programs, it is to mitigate threats. Though Iran’s nuclear ambitions may be brought to a halt, the threat Iran presents will remain.
For more than thirty years Iran has been waging a proxy war against America, claiming scores of American lives. To allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon would be unconscionable, but to allow the proxy war to continue would be a grave injustice as well.
In 1979, the nefarious Iranian regime burst onto the international stage with the Islamic Revolution and subsequent American Embassy hostage crisis. On November 4th, a throng of Iranian students wielding makeshift weapons surged past guards and seized control of the American Embassy in Tehran. Sixty six Americans were taken hostage and fifty two of them were held in captivity for over a year, before finally being released in January of 1981. The seizure of the American Embassy by the Iranians was an offence to the international community, to the world diplomatic corps, and most importantly, it was an offence against the rights of Americans. The Iranians, with the tacit approval of the revolutionary government, kept the Americans prisoner in direct violation of the law and yet the response of the American government was feeble. A failed rescue attempt and bungled negotiations by the Carter administration emboldened the Islamic totalitarians in Iran and represented America’s first great failure in the face of this enemy.
In 1983, a pair of bombings at American establishments in Lebanon took the lives of several hundred Americans, including 241 Marines. Iran abetted the strikes and America again responded ignominiously.
In January 1989 yet another occasion of Iranian aggression played out on the world stage following the publishing of The Satanic Verses by British author Salman Rushdie. The book, according to Iranian clerics, portrayed the prophet Muhammad negatively and was a supposed transgression against Islam. Consequently, Ayatollah Khomeini, Iran’s Supreme Leader, issued a fatwa ordering Muslims worldwide to kill Rushdie and those associated with the book’s publishing. Within one month, a multitude of bookstores in the United States received bomb threats and two in Berkeley, California were in fact attacked. The fatwa issued by Iran’s highest authority was a direct assault on one of the liberties held most dearly by Americans: freedom of speech. In the years that followed, both a Danish publisher and a Japanese translator were slain and Rushdie himself was forced to live in hiding. Again, an act of Iranian aggression was effectively ignored by the American government.
Again in 1996, Iranian supported proxies killed American servicemen, this time at the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia.
Repeatedly, Iran has directly threatened the lives and liberty of Americans and, yet, it has faced no repercussions. The embassy hostage crisis, the bombings of the 80s and 90s, and the Salman Rushdie fatwa are not isolated events. They are part of an orchestrated, decades-long assault on America, its citizens, and its interests. Iran’s subversive role in both Iraq and Afghanistan and the bomb plot to assassinate a Saudi diplomat in a Washington, D.C. café currently under investigation indicate that Iran is not content, but rather that is brimming with audacity. This audacity—this aggression—must be met as such.
Regardless of Iran’s nuclear program, the Islamic Republic is a menace. If the American government has any shred of courage left, it will stand up in defense of Americans’ lives and liberty and confront Iran at last, unequivocally eliminating the threat it presents.
[Photo courtesy of arteshe-iran.blogspot.com]