Time for America to Act on Iran

[see also What Iran Sanctions Won't Do and What They Can Do]

It is becoming increasingly clear that President Obama's policies toward Iran have failed and that disaster is in the offing. President Obama began his relationship with the radical mullahs in Iran determined to show that he represents a new America and that he is truly seeking friendship between the two nations. This has proven to be dreadfully misguided.

The president pursued two tracks at once. First, he initiated the appeasement process by sending his greetings to the mullahs for the Iranian New Year, calling the country "the Islamic Republic of Iran" and therefore legitimizing the rule of the mullahs. He then sent letters to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran, stating that he did not intend to interfere with the way the mullahs ruled and that he wished to resolve any issues between Iran and the USA. President Obama then went even farther and ordered the release of five Quds force commanders captured by U.S. armed forces in Irbil, Iraq in 2007. He did this in spite of the fact that those commanders and their organization had successfully orchestrated the killing of hundreds of our soldiers in Iraq. President Obama then refrained from strongly criticizing the regime in its brutal clampdown of its citizens after the fraudulent elections of June 2009 and offered an easy way out for the Iranian regime in the negotiations held in Geneva last October regarding Iran's uranium enrichment activities.

If the first track was the carrot, the other track was the stick. Obama prepared punishments in case the Iranians did not respond favorably to his gestures. He started by scrapping the missile defense shield program in Eastern Europe to satisfy the Russians in an effort to get them to cooperate with him on Iran. He bowed to Chinese demands to give Iran sufficient time to respond to his initiatives and avoid condemning the Iranian government for their treatment of their citizens in the hopes that China would help him if stronger remedies became necessary.

It has been a year since the president began to implement this dual-track policy. The first track has failed because the mullahs have responded by disregarding every deadline set for action, continuing to exert their iron will on their people, rejecting the very generous offer made by the 5+1 in Geneva of our providing nuclear fuel in exchange for their enriched uranium, and for the first time since the start of their nuclear program, they now claim to have enriched uranium to the 20% level and the capability to enrich to a level necessary to make a nuclear bomb. As Ahmadinejad put it, "Iran is now a nuclear state."

The second track has failed because President Obama has not gained the cooperation from China and Russia he sought in dealing with Iran. He has called for crippling sanctions should the mullahs fail to comply with his nuclear demands, but China has not agreed to go along with these sanctions, and Russia is still cautioning against such action. As a result, any U.N. sanctions will be nothing more than a watered down resolution without any serious effect on the Iranian government.

Meanwhile, the mullahs have pursued their own dual track much more successfully: They've managed to continue their uranium enrichment program despite three sets of U.N. sanctions in place, while at the same time keeping the West confused about how to approach them successfully.

It's time for us to take a more aggressive stance. The American flag stands for more than two centuries of struggle, sacrifice, and bravery by courageous citizens in defense of freedom, democracy, and justice. It represents the very principles that make our enemies despise us. Whenever we have stepped back from those principles in the spirit of appeasement or for purely political reasons, we have guided our country and the world into a troubled future. President Carter, for instance, called the Ayatollah Khomeini "a man of God" immediately after the overthrow of the shah, and that man of God responded by seizing the American Embassy and taking the staff hostage. Carter believed that an Islamic regime in Iran would be advantageous to U.S. policies in confronting the Soviet Union. Instead, it fostered the growth of Islamic fanaticism that continues to plague us. However, when we have stood tall and called out evil, we have shaped a better future for all humankind. President Reagan did just that by standing strong against communism, bringing freedom to hundreds of millions of people, and changing the world for the better.

My years with the Revolutionary Guards in Iran taught me that the mullahs believe in a god that hates, who seeks the blood of all non-believers -- including their own citizens -- and who calls for jihad against all non-Muslims. The fanatics in Iran believe that that same god requires them to bring the world to chaos -- where many die and others experience hunger and lawlessness -- so Imam Mahdi will reappear, kill the rest of the infidels, and raise the flag of Islam everywhere on our planet. No Western leader will ever be able to reach accord with people who feel this way. President Obama needs to realize this before an atrocity greater than 9/11 happens on our shores.

The Revolutionary Guards' ballistic missile program already covers all U.S. military bases in the Middle East and all of Israel. All of Europe will soon be within their missile range. The Guards have also successfully tested launching ballistic missiles from ships in pursuit of their nuclear agenda. This could lead to an electromagnetic pulse attack on American soil that could cripple civilian and military communications and take down our very infrastructure.

The radicals ruling Iran are just like suicide bombers, whose only goal is to attain paradise while bringing about our demise. The ruling clerics have a long history of terrorist activities against the U.S. and its interests across the world. The current defense minister of Iran, Ahmad Vahidi, who is in close collaboration with al-Qaeda and other jihadist groups, is the former Quds force commander who masterminded many terrorist activities and is currently on Interpol's most-wanted list.

In this defining moment of history, where Iranians are sacrificing their lives to seek freedom, we should not seek to appease their oppressors. We should call upon our proud history to defeat evil -- and we can do this without firing a single bullet.

Assuming China and Russia will continue to be uncooperative (a safe assumption, given their history), we should work with the heads of Europe to take the following actions:

  • Cut all diplomatic ties with Iran, recalling all Western embassy personnel.
  • Order all Iranian representatives from embassies, shipping lines, banks, and airlines to leave all Western countries immediately.
  • Close all Western airspace to flights going to or from Iran.
  • Shut down all Western seaports to ships going to or from Iran.
  • Shut down all Iranian government media broadcasts into Western countries in retaliation of their blockade of such broadcasts into Iran.
  • Freeze all assets of Iranian rulers and the Guards in Western banks.
  • Order arrest warrants for crimes against humanity for all Iranian leaders involved in killing innocent civilians.

We then need to make these demands:

  • An immediate stop of all Iranian nuclear activities.
  • A free election supervised by the United Nations.
  • The release of all political prisoners and a complete halt in the execution of political opponents and religious minorities.
  • The right to peaceful demonstration and freedom of speech for all Iranians.

President Obama must accept that what we do today will shape our world in the future -- and waiting until tomorrow might be too late. His dual-track strategy has failed him. He must now take the only track that leads to a free Iran.

"Reza Kahlili" is a pseudonym for an ex-CIA spy who requires anonymity for safety reasons. His bookA Time to Betray, about his double life as a CIA agent in Iran's Revolutionary Guards, which includes many new revelations about contemporary Iran, will be published in April 2010 by Simon & Schuster's Threshold Editions imprint.
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