How the U.S. Appeases Iran

by | Oct 23, 2012 | Foreign Policy

Soon, we may live to see what was once unthinkable: the reality of a nuclear Islamicist Iran. What should have been a simple smackdown of a primitivistic, barbaric regime by a global superpower has festered for over 30 years into a crisis of catastrophic proportions. By all accounts, Iran—an avowed enemy of the United States […]

Soon, we may live to see what was once unthinkable: the reality of a nuclear Islamicist Iran. What should have been a simple smackdown of a primitivistic, barbaric regime by a global superpower has festered for over 30 years into a crisis of catastrophic proportions. By all accounts, Iran—an avowed enemy of the United States since 1979—is close to acquiring an atomic bomb. The Islamic dictatorship has threatened the U.S. with a pre-emptive strike.

How did we get here? The answer reflects a fundamental conflict between a government based on religion and a government originally based on rights. The former has been true to its mission while the latter has betrayed its founding principles. The result is a civilization spiraling toward nuclear confrontation.

Since Ayatollah Khomeini overthrew the Shah, returned from exile and sanctioned an attack on the U.S. embassy—seizing American prisoners (dubbed “hostages”) in an act of war in 1979—the two countries have fought a proxy war. With assassinations, hijackings and bombings, including the single worst attack on U.S. Marines since World War 2, and the recently disclosed plot to assassinate a foreign diplomat in the U.S., Iran has consistently been on the offensive, waging a targeted, systematic war against America.

Iran and its agents have murdered Americans in Europe and Asia. According to the 9/11 Commission, Iran co-sponsored the 2001 attack on America, prompting one former embassy “hostage” to ask: “What took them so long?” Unlike previous diabolical threats from U.S. enemies, such as Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, Iran’s aggression is its own end; theocratic Iran seeks total destruction of secular America—at any cost.

Why? Because, here, we are infidels.

The holy war originated with Khomeini, who denounced America as the “Enemy of Islam”. Author Efraim Karsh describes Khomeini as “undoubtedly the greatest soldier for Islam in the 20th century” and he concludes that Iran has a “sacred duty to serve as the core…and springboard for worldwide dissemination of Islam’s holy message.” As part of the mission to spread Islam, every leader since Khomeini has threatened America with jihad—including by nuclear means—and every U.S. administration has responded with coddling and cooperation. The appeasement began within months of Khomeini’s takeover. Despite the fact that Iranians had stormed the embassy earlier in 1979, by November, when they seized American staff and military, embassy Marines had orders not to shoot.

It was the beginning of a repeat cycle; Iran would attack—the U.S. would appease—and Iran would attack deeper and harder. For example, President Carter redefined Iran’s initial act of war as a “crisis” and, after he negotiated a “hostage” release, Iran attacked the Marines—causing Reagan to withdraw troops—which encouraged Iran to attack Americans everywhere. This included ordering the assassination of writer Salman Rushdie, and threatening to bomb his U.S. publisher and bookstores, prompting the first President Bush to abandon the defense of Americans at home—in turn causing Iran to attack more Americans.

By the time a Clinton administration official declared in 1997 that America “has nothing against an Islamic government in Iran”, Iran was on its way to bombing the U.S. Navy and co-sponsoring 9/11. After 9/11, the second President Bush’s secretary of state sought to negotiate with Iran for help in the war against the Taliban—help from an Islamicist dictatorship in a war against an Islamicist dictatorship—revealing America as a paper tiger. In each instance of U.S. appeasement, Iran escalated both the scale and severity of its attacks. Under President Obama, who campaigned pledging cooperation, Iran continued its advance toward nuclear weapons.

Why does the U.S. appease Iran? Author Trita Parsi reports that, at the close of the Reagan administration’s secret weapons deal with Iran, the Americans arrived in Teheran bearing gifts such as a Bible and a chocolate cake in the shape of a key, to symbolize an opening of relations. Defending Islam, the Bush administration’s Richard Armitage told an interviewer: “we’re all people of the book.” Obama echoes the theme that our government shares with Iran’s mullahs a common belief: that faith is the foundation of our country.

The opposite is true. Contrary to presidents mixing religion and government, America was founded on reason and individual rights. We are not a theocracy. Yet from Carter to Obama, our government has sought to apologize for America’s secularism and prove that we are not infidels—that we, too, have faith—rather than differentiate theocracy from liberty in ideas and action, especially military action in self-defense. History shows that appeasement leads to mass murder and that, from 1979 to 9/11, Iranian-sponsored attacks are often launched with surprise. With the looming reality of an atomic Iran, we need an urgent end to faith-based appeasement. We must follow reason instead—and use it to put an end to the unthinkable.

Scott Holleran's writing has been published in the Los Angeles Times, Classic Chicago, and The Advocate. The cultural fellow with Arts for LA interviewed the man who saved Salman Rushdie about his act of heroism and wrote the award-winning “Roberto Clemente in Retrospect” for Pittsburgh Quarterly. Scott Holleran lives in Southern California. Read his fiction at and read his non-fiction at

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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