Iran on the Brink
For thirty years, America has appeased the Islamic Republic, setting the stage for the current crisis.
Just in the last few months, events have hastened to a crisis in Iran’s long confrontation with the West. The ongoing civil war in Syria looks more and more likely to end with the ouster of strongman Bashar al-Assad, one of Tehran’s most stalwart regional allies and an important supporter of the Iranian proxy terrorist organization, Hezbollah in Lebanon. In November, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported evidence suggesting that Iran is carrying out “undisclosed nuclear-related activities,” including the “development of a nuclear payload for a missile.” According to Israeli intelligence, Iran now has enough material for four to five nuclear bombs.
Since the IAEA report was made public, mysterious explosions have rocked Iran. On November 12, a huge blast completely destroyed a military base that housed Iran’s long-range missile development facility, killing the founder of Iran’s missile program and destroying 180 missiles. Another explosion on November 28 seriously damaged a nuclear conversion site. And in December, blasts have occurred at the Isfahan oil refinery, a military base in Kerman, and a steel factory making nose cones and other parts for missiles. These attacks have rattled further a regime that is on edge over the rumors of a possible Israeli military strike and the impact of international economic sanctions. Rioters, comprised of members of the brutal Basij militia, recently attacked and sacked the British embassy in Tehran, either because of British sanctions against Iran’s banking sector, or internal power struggles among Iran’s leaders.
All these signs of turmoil point to great instability in a region critical to American interests. The dangerous instability would only escalate if a regime ruled by clerics, who endorse an apocalyptic strain of Shia Islam, gained nuclear weapons capability. Yet the roots of this critical moment stretch back thirty years, when America’s policy of serial appeasement of the Iranian mullahs and their aggression first began.
The Islamic Republic of Iran was born in the 1979 attack on the U.S. embassy in Tehran and the kidnapping of our citizens there, 52 of whom were held hostage for 444 days. This blatant violation of international law and challenge to U.S. prestige was met with the whole repertoire of appeasing evasions evocative of the 1938 crisis in the Sudetenland: diplomatic “outreach,” a U.N. Security Council Resolution, a U.N. commission of inquiry into America’s “crimes,” secret third-party negotiations, and, of course, economic sanctions and a trade embargo rendered toothless by the Iranian threat to cut Europe off from Iranian oil.
In the end, this policy of appeasement failed and the West lost Iran.