In his recent Norouz (New Year) message to Iranians, President Obama once again called for dialogue with the rulers of Iran, and once again addressed the country as the “Islamic Republic of Iran.” This latter point was clearly to reassure the Islamic Government that the United States of America would not dispute their leadership and that regime change in Iran was not part of the Obama Administration’s plans. As before when he has made similar gestures, the President’s comments may be well intentioned, but suggest that, like previous U.S. presidents, he is less cognizant than he should be of the mullahs’ ideology. They base their beliefs on jihad (holy war for Islam), shahadat (martyrdom), and mahdaviat (the coming of the Shiites’ 12th imam to usher in Armageddon). Having served in the Revolutionary Guards – where I spied for the CIA – I know firsthand that they believe justice can only be served by killing the infidels and raising the flag of Islam worldwide.
I feel the need to remind our President that Norouz is a Persian event and that the mullahs are hostile to everything that has to do with Persian heritage. In addition, it is wrongheaded to consider the Iranian people and the ruling mullahs to be one entity. Since the beginning of the thugocracy in Iran that began with the 1979 revolution, Iranians have been paying dearly to bring change only to learn that the West, despite the fact of calling the actions of the leaders of Iran unacceptable, would rather profit from dealings with Iranian rulers than care for humanity.
I also need to remind our president that failure to understand the fundamentals of the mullahs’ belief has been the source of the failure of America’s approach toward Iran for every administration since the Islamic Revolution. President Carter once called Ayatollah Khomeini “a man of God,” and he believed an Islamic state that at the time neighbored the Soviet Union would help fight communism. President Reagan’s Administration engaged in back channel negotiations with the mullahs, as Hashemi Rafsanjani (then the speaker of the Parliament) had promised a move toward normalization of relations once Ayatollah Khomeini was dead. They held these negotiations despite knowing that Iranians were responsible for the Marine barracks bombing in Beirut in 1983 that killed 241 American servicemen. While I was spying on the Revolutionary Guards for America, the U.S. government was meeting in private with the Guards in Geneva, Brussels, Frankfort and Mainz. The Guards negotiators at these meetings, close associates of Rafsanjani, were assigned the names “the Engine” (an intelligence officer believed to be involved in the kidnapping and murder of CIA agent William Buckley) and “the Relative” and they met with, among others, Oliver North. The CIA facilitated a trip for “the Relative” to Washington, D.C., where he was even given a tour of the White House.
In fairness, America has not been alone in mishandling the regime. England, Germany and France have greatly profited from dealings with Iran while looking the other way on the mullahs’ terrorist activities and human rights violations against its own citizens. Guards officers have been feted in European capitals for the profit of oil while negotiating arms contracts. The Europeans have even allowed the Guards to assassinate opposition members who have taken refuge in Europe.
I therefore have to question Western leaders’ definition of “unacceptable.” What is unacceptable to me is that the West – the defender of democracy and freedom – has closed its eyes to extreme and repeated injustice. What is unacceptable is that we still try to extend a hand to those who stone women to death, rape teenage girls before execution to prevent them from going to heaven, torture and kill students because they want freedom and bury their bodies in unmarked graves while forbidding their families to mourn. What is unacceptable is that despite the fact that the mullahs have been involved in worldwide terrorist activities and that several courts around the world have indicted their leaders, we still fool ourselves into thinking they will cooperate with us. What is even more unacceptable is that we remain quiet in response to their hostilities, taking hostages of American citizens and even the Guards’ involvement in killing our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan and their arming of the Taliban.
We must act to protect the Iranians and the world from an unacceptable future. We must understand and acknowledge that the current regime in Iran is bent on turning the entire planet into an Islamic one. We cannot appease them. We must move against them to ensure that the truly unacceptable never happens.