ORTEL: Washington continues to ignore the peril from Iran

When it comes to Iran’s role stirring trouble, Western leaders remain under a spell, cast decades ago. Photo: AP/ Neda

NEW YORK,August 20, 2013 — When it comes to Iran’s role stirring trouble, Western leaders remain under a spell, cast decades ago.

Like storm troopers in the movie Star Wars, the United States and other global peace guardians blithely “move along,” ignoring obvious problems inside and outside Iran that pose grave threats to world peace.

Therefore, it is no surprise that President Obama, policy-leaders and the media heap attention upon an Arab Spring while failing to notice diabolical effects of a freezing Persian winter.

The history of America’s relations with Iran since 1953 is not a tale of glory. Republicans and Democrats alike have fallen far below professed ideals and failed to defend American interests in dealings with that ancient nation.

Just because we have foundered for so many years does not mean that we should forget exactly what we have done. Instead, champions of women’s rights and American values should start by remembering what happened as recently as June 2009.

Eight days following President Obama’s lofty appeal for “A New Beginning”, thugs running Iran stole the election held there June 12, 2009. Long-simmering tensions within Iran subsequently boiled over and popular protests swelled.

On June 20, 2009, an aspiring female musician found herself drawn to the streets. Standing amidst stalled traffic and taking in the spectacle, Neda Agha-Soltan, just 26 years of age, was shot through the heart by a callous member of the Basij militia.

The voices of outrage were shamefully muted back then—to this day, they remain still, as if a great power like America must refrain from criticizing a challenging irritant like Iran.

For all its glorious history, Iran in 2013 certainly is not America but Neda’s cruel death is cautionary for numerous reasons.

In states like Iran where the general populace cannot own weapons, tyrants and petty tyrants operate with free hands.

This explains, in part, why Iranians have not truly been free, whether under the Shah or, since 1979, under a Shia Islamic theocracy,

America’s founders, keen students of the full sweep of history, understood the dangerous and seductive impulses that tempt citizens to give in willingly to tyranny.

In Iran, Neda’s public death and the continuing suffering of countless compatriots bear testimony to the dangers posed when America is hobbled—when we cannot bring ourselves to discharge the full measure of our devotion to lofty goals that inspired our country’s revolutionary birth.

When forward-looking Iranians were ready for America to lead back in June 2009, we let Neda and like-minded Iranians down.

Instead, hoping vainly that we might gain somehow from accommodating a brutal regime in Iran, we avoided involvement in their domestic politics, deciding perhaps that America had nothing inside Iran to protect.

We cannot wash Neda’s blood off our collective hands—four years’ later we now face an emboldened, even more implacable enemy in Iran. That nation is ever closer to joining the nuclear club.

Decades of determined meddling throughout the Middle East place Iran closer to holding influence over a substantial portion of the region’s energy supplies.

Moreover, should Iran wish to foment trouble in desperate portions of the region, she may do so on a moment’s notice and she likely will choose to defy America at each turn.

Who deserves blame for America’s latest round of sins in Iran and what do Americans need to change?

American President’s have their “fixers”—we remember Bruce Lindsey who almost shielded Bill Clinton from serial disasters and Karl Rove who ably served George W. Bush. Acknowledging accepted past practice, we cannot begrudge Barack Obama his choice of Valerie Jarrett for consigliere.

Before 2009, what exactly were Ms. Jarrett’s international accomplishments? Where was she trained and who trained her? Who are her long-time friends and allies and do their interests mesh with America’s?

Since January 20, 2009, what role precisely has Ms. Jarrett played in developing and executing America’s foreign policies regarding crucial nations such as Iran and more broadly throughout the volatile mid-east?

Somehow, America once managed to pursue winning foreign strategies without reflexively turning to advice from professionals who are steeped in alien traditions.

Yes, Henry Kissinger had his positive moments but why, pray tell, does anyone actually listen to Zbignieuw Brzezinski?

Jimmy Carter did and we reap today the profound damage that duo wrought upon America and the western world by tossing long time ally Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi in 1979 for Ayatollah Ruhollah Mostafavi Musavi Khomeini.

Imposing regime change blithely on other nations is dangerous business—you would think President Obama and his team might actually get that point, but they evidently do not.

We must be honest—America has bungled her leadership role in foreign affairs since 1989. Our diplomatic and military failures implicate both political parties and constrain realistic options for renewing economic growth.

It is not fair to heap blame on the present Administration alone—still, each time the President, John Kerry or other admirals in the Obama Navy utter their profound pronouncements, we can only marvel.

Americans deserve to understand exactly who has control over foreign policy levers, what credentials qualify these diplomatic “experts”, and what conflicts may impair their judgment.

Only recently has the mainstream press begun to do grounded, thorough investigation into America’s senior policy team.

It truly does matter who actually has the President’s ear, who was doing what on June 20, 2009 and on that fateful night of September 11, 2012.

We actually deserve to know who makes the final call on the most important matters inside America’s Executive Branch.

What’s more, before we get embroiled in making accusations at home concerning a “War on Women”, we should remember how surely we are enabling one inside Iran and across the Islamic world.




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Charles Ortel

Charles Ortel became a lapsed member of the silent majority in August 2007 when he began alerting the public to dangers posed by structural changes in the global economy. Since then, Charles has appeared in the print, radio and television media with increasing frequency. Brass Tacks will attempt to offer non-partisan perspective on factors contributing to the unresolved, burgeoning crisis and discuss potential solutions. Graduated from Horace Mann School, Yale College and Harvard Business School, Charles tries to learn each day.  

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