Battered America: Our Abusive Relationship with the Mullahs

The dynamics of the relationship between the United States and the Iran's mullahs resembles that of an abused wife and a batterer husband.  Domestic violence comes as a form of bullying, as a means that is easier than other methods.  There are different reasons why spouses stay in physically abusive marriages. Some women stay because they fear the community's reaction, some hope that their husbands will change, some stay out of fear of the husband's violent reaction, some stay because of low-esteem, and some stay because they can't find a way out. 

The United States must find a way out of this dishonorable cycle. 

Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran's dossier of terrorism against the United States includes: taking 52 American hostages in Tehran for 444 days, attacks on U.S. Embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983 killing sixty three people including seventeen American servicemen; second U.S. Embassy bombing in Beirut in 1984 killing 24 people, two of whom were U.S. military personnel; Khobar Towers bombing in June 1996 in Dahran, Saudi Arabia killing nineteen U.S. servicemen and injuring more than 500 others, 240 of whom were Americans;  

In Iraq, Tehran's terrorist activities are designed to bully and humiliate the United States and inflict casualties.  The mullahs' activities in Iraq include:

  • smuggling weaponry and explosives to Iraq and placing them in the hands of a potpourri of terrorist groups to create an intimidating environment for Iraqis and an impossible situation for Coalition forces;
  • strengthening and utilizing centuries-old religious connections to influence the public positions and political landscape;
  • bribing hundreds of corrupt politicians to be Iran's voice within the newly installed Iraqi government; conducting targeted terrorist activities to create ethnic and religious tensions;
  • buying houses and businesses extensively in order to establish native proxy clusters; smuggling drugs to Iraq and promoting organized prostitution with intent to create controllable corruption and mafia-like webs; conducting targeted or mass executions to stop resistance to Iran's infiltration in Iraq;
  • lighting cities and towns on fire to force strategic migrations of Iraqi citizens; destroying holy shrines to spur religious confrontations; facilitating travel and supplies for Al-Qaeda through Iran;
  • conducting direct or commissioned assaults on coalition forces to wear them down;
  • forcing the hejab (veil) on Iraqi women.
Nevertheless, the United States' reaction over the past two decades has not been better than the reaction of a battered spouse to an abusive relation that she cannot leave.    United States has gone to both back door and front door negotiating rooms with the mullahs time and again.  When the mullahs asked the West to impede the overseas opposition to the Iran's regime, the United States and Europe responded affirmatively by placing Iran's main opposition groups (MEK and NCRI) on the terrorist list for the past ten years. This categorization has tied the hands of the enemies of the ayatollahs and has eased the regime's  anxiety.  Nevertheless Tehran's behavior has not changed. In the past few months, knowing well what the mullahs' intentions in Iraq are, the US went to the negotiating table twice.  In these meetings US envoys complained about the mullahs' behavior while the mullahs' proxies delivered their usual insults and demeaning lectures.

It is time for an honorable, just and wise action.  The United States must give up hope that the barbaric mullahs will some day learn how to behave in a civilized manner. The only solution for the Iranian people, for the region and for the world is regime change in Iran.  More importantly, the agent of change can not be a foreign power or foreign war. Iranian regime must be changed by the Iranian people and their legitimate resistance.  Opposition groups that have not been involved in the crimes of the Shah and the mullahs' rule should be supported in their drive for a secular, free and democratic Iran. Containment should not be the goal of American policy toward Iran. Regime change is the answer.

Kazem Kazerounian teaches at the University of Connecticut