Most of the Libyan people seem to be rejoicing -- and with good reason. They suffered the most under the egomaniacal despot. But unless you are a U.S. Air Force, Navy or Marine pilot who had to brave anti-aircraft fire in Operation Odyssey Dawn, Moammar the Magnificent hasn't posed a serious threat to Americans for years. Now, thanks to the Obama administration's "no boots on the ground" policy for war fighting, America and our allies may actually be more vulnerable.
Members of the O-Team are busy backslapping and giving one another high-fives for their brilliant "no American casualties" strategy. They hope we forget that this mission, which began March 19, was supposed to be over "in days, not weeks." And they surely do not want it widely known that thousands -- perhaps tens of thousands -- of man-portable surface-to-air missiles are missing from Libyan ordnance depots. Now consider the "message."
President Barack Obama and our State Department are big on sending "messages." For months, they have been telling us that Gadhafi would fall because that's the inevitable result of brutal repression. They claim that the collapse of his regime sends a message to any government that spawns terror and denies basic human freedoms to a subjugated people. But that's not the lesson learned by the theocrats in Iran.
Last week, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the indictment of four Iranians for conspiring with a Mexican drug cartel to murder the Saudi ambassador -- and perhaps a hundred or more Americans with a bomb planted in a Washington, D.C., restaurant. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton then told us this plot was a "dangerous escalation of the Iranian government's long-standing use of political violence and sponsorship of terrorism." Apparently, the O-Team didn't notice that the plotters allegedly received "go ahead" orders from Tehran to carry out the attack well after the "Arab spring" revolts were toppling and threatening authoritarian leaders throughout the Middle East. And anyone paying attention for the past 32 years should know that mass murder is hardly a new tactic for Tehran's ayatollahs.
Iran has been waging war against the U.S. and its allies since Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini urged Islamic radicals to sack the U.S. Embassy in Tehran on Nov. 4, 1979. Within months of consolidating power, they began exporting their Islamic Revolution and initiated attacks on regime defectors and dissidents in more than a dozen countries -- including the U.S.
In Lebanon, operatives of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps commenced building Hezbollah, a full-scale underground movement to "expel foreigners" and seize control of the country. In April 1983, Hezbollah terrorists detonated a truckload of explosives in front of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut. That was just the beginning.
Twenty-eight years ago this week, 241 U.S. Marines, sailors and soldiers were killed when a Hezbollah terrorist -- trained and equipped by Iran -- drove an explosive-laden truck into the U.S. Marine barracks at the Beirut airport. A nearly simultaneous attack on a French military barracks killed nearly 60 paratroopers. The suicide bombings were followed by a wave of kidnapping, hostage taking and murder. They grabbed American missionaries, journalists, academics and a hospital administrator, and they tortured and murdered the CIA's station chief in Beirut and a U.S. Marine colonel.
In the aftermath of al-Qaida's attacks on 9/11, Tehran stepped up its action against the U.S. Since October 2001, every U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan has warned of Iranian support for terror actions against our forces hunting down the remnants of al-Qaida and the Taliban regime. In Iraq, members of the IRGC have been captured while carrying out attacks on U.S. personnel and supporting Shiite terror organizations.
In 2007, our Fox News team arrived in Hillah, Iraq -- a predominantly Shiite city on the banks of the Euphrates River -- days after the provincial police chief, Lt. Gen. Qais Hamza al-Mamouri, was assassinated. He had built an effective police force, which provided security for all Iraqi citizens regardless of religion. Local citizens told us they had no doubt who had killed their beloved general: "It was the Iranians." On that same trip, special operators showed us sophisticated and deadly Iranian-built explosively formed penetrators designed to destroy any armored vehicle in the U.S. inventory.
Now, with U.S. forces set to withdraw from Iraq by the end of the year, U.S. and NATO commanders expect to see even more Iranian activity in Afghanistan. International Security Assistance Force and Afghan officials repeatedly warn that Tehran harbors, trains and equips insurgents and violent criminal elements involved in the opium trade. Despite claims of "religious purity," Iran has one of the world's highest drug abuse rates in the world.
Meanwhile, the U.S. border is a virtual "superhighway" for drug and human smuggling into the U.S. That's why Iranians plotting with Mexican drug cartels is so plausible. They understand how vulnerable our southern frontier has become. The Obama administration has to hope that a Libyan missile in the hands of an Iranian terrorist never makes its way into the U.S.
Celebrating the violent end of Gadhafi may make the O-Team happy. But it doesn't make us any safer. Failing to secure our border may well prove to be a case of aiding and abetting our enemies.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.