12 March 2004
Iran may pose the greatest
threat to the United States and the world so long as it continues under its
While most of our
attention is fixed on Iraq and the difficult process of instituting a democratic
government there (and in Afghanistan), the news out of Iran is largely erroneous
and does not focus on the fact that, along with Saudi Arabia, it is the leading
supporter of Islamic terrorism in the world.
It is Iran that identifies the United States of America as “the Great Satan.”
It is Iran that has been systematically seeking to develop a nuclear arms
program since the 1980s and lying about it. It is Iran that will not only
be able to destroy an American city with a nuclear device, but it is also
Iran’s leaders who are the most likely to do so.
The mainstream American press has not been well served by reporters for major
news services who, for example, continue to refer to recent elections in
Iran as having been between “reformers” and “conservatives,” as if to suggest
that there is a real chance of reform in Iran. There hasn’t been any such
opportunity since Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini seized power on February 1,
1979, after Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi had fled the country.
The Islamic Revolution that began then is now twenty-five years old and Iran
has long since sunk into the Dark Ages of the same Islamic Revolution that
al Qaeda and other Islamic terror organizations would impose on the entire
world. To look at Iran today is to see what the future would be if this violent
revolution should ever succeed.
“The reality is our situation is like a nightmare,” said one prominent Iranian
intellectual. The demographics of Iran are interesting. Two-thirds of Iranians
are under 30. They are a generation of well-educated men and women. Fully
60 percent of university students are women. They can see the outside world
via satellite television and have access to the Internet. They want good
jobs and opportunities, but so long as the ayatollahs remain in control,
they have few of either. A recent report on Iran by Borzou Daragahi notes,
“The economy remains in the control of conservative clerics and their allies
who seized businesses at the beginning of the revolution.”
Largely unknown or ignored by the mainstream press is the way the current
Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and his unelected Guardian Council
retains total control over all aspects of life in Iran. The so-called parliament
of Iran is composed of only those people who have been approved for membership.
The notion that President Mohammad Khatami favors reform is easily dismissed
by ignoring what he says for public consumption and reviewing his record
of doing nothing to open Iranian society to less oppression. There is, simply
stated, no credible internal opposition to the dictators who run Iran.
Like all dictators, the Supreme Leader and his cohorts will not yield their
power through elections and, controlling all the instruments of power in
Iran, the people there have no means to initiate any change. Earlier efforts,
mass marches in the streets, have given way to despair. Just as in Iraq,
any change will likely require military intervention as the final option,
if an internal revolt cannot be successful. This is the sad, inevitable truth
about the Middle East and it is one that many Americans either don’t understand
or might well oppose, given our current commitment along with its problems
and costs. Neocons argue that whatever we spend toward these goals saves
the US from far worse costs from attacks such as 9-11. I agree. As it was,
9-11 continues to have a negative impact on our economy.
The fact remains that without change Iran poses as great, if not the greatest
threat to the United States and the world so long as it continues under the
The record is there for anyone to examine. First came the 1979 taking of
US diplomats as hostages for 444 days. This is unprecedented in modern history.
Other American hostages were taken in Lebanon in the 1980s. Iran provides
the funding for Hizbollah, the terrorist organization that has staged numerous
terror bombings in Israel (along with Hamas, the Palestinian organization).
It was Iran that funded the truck bombing of 241 US Marines in Beirut on
October 23, 1983.
Intelligence sources, according to a recent issue of Insight on the News, told that magazine that Iran “supplied the explosives” for the 1998 al Qaeda bombings of US embassies in Africa.
It was Iran that funded the attack in 1996 on the Khobar Towers barracks
for US military personnel in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, that killed nineteen
soldiers and injured 400 others. Former FBI Director, Louis Freeh, testified
the attack was “planned, funded, and sponsored by the senior leadership of
the government of Iran.”
It can and should be argued that we have been in a state of war with Iran
since 1979. At the very least, it is obvious that Iran sees itself as being
in a state of war with America. Just as we went to war in Afghanistan and
Iraq to eliminate the threat that fanatical Jihadists represented there,
the need for regime change in Iran is ten times more essential because this
is a nation with the will to destroy America.
No doubt the findings of the International Atomic Energy Agency will, with
US pressure, find their way to the United Nations Security Council and no
doubt it will linger there just as the many resolutions regarding Iraq lingered
until the US took action. No doubt, too, Europe and the IAEA bureaucracy
will seek to delay that action.
As much as Americans find their role in transforming the Middle East distasteful
and costly in terms of the lives spent and the billions required, it is the
only realistic option. We have had one 9-11. That’s enough.
Alan Caruba is the author of Warning Signs, published by Merril Press. His weekly commentaries are posted on the Internet site of The National Anxiety Center.
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