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Rules, in a Knife Fight?
by Judson Cox
30 June 2003

Iran, the godfather of the "death to America" brand of Islamic terror, is the axis of the Axis Of Evil.

Those who criticized the war in Iraq on the basis that it would distract our forces from the War on Terror should take a closer look at Iran. Even if "Osama (had) bin forgotten," what is taking place in Iran right now is far more important than capturing the cave dweller. Just to recap: Iran is the godfather of the "death to America" brand of Islamic terror. Ever since Khomeini came to power in the 1970’s, Iran has trained and funded terrorists to attack America and her allies. Truly, Iran is the axis of the Axis Of Evil.

Even as I write this humble column, striking events are occurring within that closed country. Not for the first time, Iranian students are protesting against the Iranian government. The students are demanding democratic reforms and greater freedom. Although reports from within Iran are rather sketchy, it is generally believed that the students are somewhat pro-America in ideology. What makes this protest so much more important than the others that have taken place over the last few years is the numbers. These are mass demonstrations of university students, and they are being joined by non-students! Average Iranians are joining in their cry of freedom. Perhaps the best barometer of the seriousness of this event is the Iranian government’s response. Iran has forbidden television cameras at the protests. Soldiers and government-sanctioned militias are firing on the crowd. This may be the beginning of a coup or it could be a massacre. Either way, the government of Iran does not want the world to see it happen. Contrast this with the taking of American hostages in that same country less than thirty years ago!

The protests present America with an amazing opportunity. Not only does Iran support terrorism, Iran is a danger to America and her allies militarily. Iran has never minced words. The leadership of Iran has made clear for decades that it would do everything in its power to destroy us. Now, Iran is reportedly very close to having nuclear weapons. Iran claims that its nuclear program is oriented toward nuclear power. However, Iran floats on a sea of oil. The building of nuclear power plants in such a country would be redundant and expensive. Obviously, Iran wishes to become a nuclear power. Speaking plainly for a moment, to allow Iran to posses nuclear weapons would be akin to arming mental patients and letting them loose at the Super Bowl. Iran is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American citizens already. The only thing that has prevented more deaths is Iran’s lack of sophisticated weapons of mass destruction.
Obviously, America has a dog in this fight. This is a defining moment, because how we choose to deal with this opportunity will set the tone for many years to come. In my view, America has four options of varying effectiveness. The first option would be to simply do nothing. Inaction is always the easiest course, but in this case it would also be the most costly. To do nothing would be to miss the golden chance to stop Iran’s nuclear program. It would be to miss our chance to affect regime change in favor of a government more friendly to American interests (at best we have a shot at a government like Turkey, not always an ally, but not an enemy). Inaction would also allow a massacre akin to Tienanmen Square. When the Chinese government brutally put down those students in 1989, all our leaders could do was denounce the violence and enact trade sanctions. Here, we have a humanitarian reason to intervene.

Second is the option of petitioning the support of the so called "International Community." However, the events of the past year have shown how fruitless such an action would be. The United Nations is comprised of so many Islamic nations, third world countries, and countries such as France that we can never again rely on them for help. Indeed, much of this body now sees its role as checking America’s power and frustrating her efforts. Furthermore, if the United Nations were to agree to send "peacekeeping" troops into Iran, only for humanitarian reasons, a massacre would be assured. Just look at the Congo. The United Nations troops have hidden in their complex while countless massacres have taken place. If the United Nations troops, armed with modern automatic weapons, cannot stop ill-organized hordes of machete wielding savages, what good are they anywhere? The United Nations no longer has any credibility as either a governing body or a humanitarian force.

Third is the action most obvious and reactionary. We have a few hundred thousand troops on the border of Iran. These troops are battle trained and well entrenched. Moreover, many of the weapons and regime targets their mission it is to capture have been spirited across the border to Iran. To continue the war, shifting the focus to Iran would be warranted and possible. Indeed, the main reason that the students are protesting in Iran is that they have been given encouragement by America’s actions in Iraq. However, such a military strategy would carry too high a risk, and set a precedent that would cause great difficulties in the years to come. Although our forces are capable of extending the war into Iraq, hostilities have not ceased in either Afghanistan or Iraq. There is much work to be done there. A new military campaign would risk stretching our forces too thin, and opening them up to potentially bloody attacks. We would eventually win, but at what cost? Also, to invade a third Muslim country would certainly raise tensions and ill will in the twenty or so other Muslim nations. We must remember that our war is not a crusade, nor a quest for empire. Our goal is simply to nullify the threat of terror and prevent weapons of mass destruction from being used by our enemies.

The final, and most preferable, option is a return to Cold War era covert actions. By funding the revolutionary forces in Iran, and undermining the government, we could affect a regime change. Surely, our CIA and Special Forces are trained for just such actions. This would also win us favor with the revolutionary forces, and perhaps provide America with an ally in years to come. Such actions are dangerous, though effective, but are on such a small scale that they can fly under the radar of world politics. To undertake such actions, however, will necessitate a sea change in political philosophy within our own nation.

From at least the time of the 1976 Church Commission, Democrats have sought to undermine America's intelligence community. In fact, it would not be an overstatement to say that Democrats have done everything in their power to castrate the CIA. Democrats from Torricelli to Boxer have bragged of their efforts to render the CIA powerless.  When you consider that during the height of the Democratic efforts to destroy our intelligence community, we were in the middle of the Cold War, one could question their loyalty, but I will question only their judgment. For instance, take another famous event involving Iran, the Iran / Contra scandal. In this instance, our military intelligence operatives sought to arm revolutionary forces within Iran, and use those monies to fund the Contra rebels in El Salvador. These actions were necessary because the democrats in Congress would not authorize any actions supporting our allies or undermining our enemies. Of course, the Iranians turned out to be agents of the Iranian government, masquerading as rebels, but the Contras were the preferred government of the El Salvadorians. Our support of the Contras enabled the overthrow of the brutal dictator Daniel Ortega, and the establishment of a democratic government that was friendly to America. Had the Sandinistas gained full control of the country, one could almost guarantee that El Salvador would have become another Cuba, an ally of our enemies. Of course, the Democrats did not recognize the wisdom of these actions; they saw it as a reason to impeach a president.

Indeed, this is a great turning point in American foreign policy. Will we adopt a Machiavellian strategy of regarding our enemy’s enemy as our ally? Will we continue to view full scale military operations as the only legitimate way to engage our enemies? Will we continue sacrificing soldiers, or will we begin targeting leaders? Will we fight terrorism by the same rules that we engage legitimate nations by, or will we modernize? Will we continue to open our borders to all who wish to enter, or will we investigate those who come from hostile nations?

How we answer the above questions may well decide the fate of our nation. If we continue to allow our enemies to strike us from the shadows, while we allow ourselves to only operate in the full light of day, we may find our throats cut. As the famous line from "Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid" asked, "Rules, in a knife fight?" Truly, there is a reason that priests don’t fight wars, and saints are not assassins. However, each is essential to the existence of a nation.

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