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Obama's Iran Appeasement Syndrome

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Calling President Obama’s approach toward Iran “bad policy” is like calling a rotten egg a failed omelet.

The Iranian regime is an avowed enemy of the US and the West by virtue of its stated goals and its violent actions. The Iranian government’s visceral, unmitigated hatred of the United States and its hostile intentions are manifest in every speech by President Ahmadinejad and every edict from the mullahs of the ruling Islamic High Council. No American should doubt that Iran is at war with the US and the West and will escalate its hostilities as new weapons and new resources become available.


None of this is new or controversial among people who have followed Iran’s actions since the mullahs seized power in 1979; the most potent and portentous symbol of the Iranian revolution were the 52 Americans held hostage there for 444 days. Indeed, virulent anti-Americanism has been a source of national identity for the Iranian regime from its inception. What should worry Americans more than Iran’s posture is that such commonsense statements are heresy in the Obama White House.

The naïve hand of friendship extended by President Obama to this hostile regime has led to a series of humiliations and increasingly dangerous strategic threats. Since President Obama took office and sent Nowrouz greetings to the Iranian people, the regime has responded by --- holding three innocent American youths hostage, accelerating their nuclear weapons program, violently suppressing democratic movements, providing weapons and materiel to terrorists who attack American troops in Iraq, and coddling enemies of America including Hamas, Hezbollah, Hugo Chavez, and Bashir al Assad.

But nowhere is President Obama more out of touch with the reality of the Iranian threat than in his treatment of the Mujahedin-e Khalq (or MEK), the Iranian dissident movement.


The MEK was put on the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations in 1997 by the Clinton administration as a sop the Islamist regime. It was a condition demanded by the ruling mullahs in Tehran because they hated and feared the MEK. Thousands of MEK members have been killed by the regime. Tehran maintains a constant propaganda barrage attacking the MEK and millions of dollars have been spent to curry resistance to the MEK in the West.

In recognition of the changed, democratic character of the MEK, both Great Britain and the European Union have taken the MEK off their terrorist lists. The list of American foreign policy experts calling for the de-listing of the MEK is impressive: a former Attorney General, two former US Ambassadors to the UN, a former Director of the FBI, and a former Secretary of Homeland Security, to name only a few. Additionally, almost 100 members of Congress have signed a resolution calling for removal of the MEK from the terrorist roster.

While the continued blacklisting of the MEK is unreasonable and illogical, it is eerily consistent with Obama’s selective indignation when civilians are bludgeoned to death by police in Islamic regimes. Obama’s lack of support for the massive democratic dissent in the streets of Tehran in 2009 was shocking, but he welcomed the recent uprisings in Egypt, Libya and Syria despite the prominent presence of radical Islamists in the leadership of those protests. Obama committed American forces to help topple the dictator Gaddafi, but has not committed America and prestige and power to help the pro-democracy forces in Iran.


What is the thread that ties Obama’s strange and inconsistent policies together? The consistency lies in the peculiar ideology Obama brings to foreign policy decisions.

President Obama pledged during his campaign that an “open hand” would be extended by his administration to all nations, friend or foe. Disastrously enough, he has kept this promise. This has required overlooking mortal threats such as those posed by the Iranian regime, and ignoring potential allies like the MEK. It also explains why President Obama and his appointees in the US State Department have resisted firmer measures against Iran. In plain language, Obama’s ideology blinds him to the serious danger a nuclear-armed, anti-democratic Iran poses to the United States and our allies.

The United States urgently needs to confront and oppose Iran’s terrorist agenda through strong diplomatic and economic measures. A simple first step to signal our serious intentions would be to support Iran’s internal dissidents, a strategy which should begin with lifting the outdated and invalid terrorist stigma from the Mujahideen-e Khalq.

When Iran’s internal democratic forces see that the United States will no longer tolerate that nation’s backing for international terrorism, we will begin to see an unraveling of that regime’s despotic grip on its people.


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