Facing the most challenging and dangerous time in our history, American voters in this year’s presidential election can ill afford to put in office a leader lacking foreign policy experience. Our next president must understand at the outset much of the world’s turmoil today, whether it is Iraq, Afghanistan, the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, the proliferation of nuclear weapons, etc., originates in Iran — either directly or through proxies.
Presumed Democratic Party presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.) made clear, when a questioner proposed meetings with leaders such as Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad without preconditions, his ignorance of these nations and their leaders. He reasoned, “that the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them — which has been the guiding principle of this administration — is ridiculous.” Even fellow Democrat Senator Joe Biden found fault with this approach, stating Obama gave the wrong answer. Since then the Illinois senator has fuzzed up his previously, unambiguous declaration, saying some low-level preparation would first have to be done. Obama also suggests even President John F. Kennedy was willing to talk to the Soviets without preconditions during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, avoiding war by doing so.
Obama’s JFK analogy conveniently omits two important points: it was Kennedy’s perceived weakness that precipitated the Cuban Missile Crisis; it was not his negotiation talents that extracted him from it.
When Kennedy took office in January 1961, the Kremlin was unsure of the metal of the Free World’s new leader. They did not have to wait long to find out. Less than three months into his term, Kennedy made a tremendous foreign policy blunder. Having approved a CIA plan to invade Cuba and topple Fidel Castro, having promised US air support to the Cuban Bay of Pigs invasion force critical to its success, the young and inexperienced US president panicked at the last moment. As more than a thousand anti-Castro fighters stormed Cuban beaches, Kennedy withdrew the promised air support. Almost the entire force was killed or captured.
It was the absence of Kennedy’s backbone in the Bay of Pigs invasion that then led to the Cuban Missiles Crisis the following year. Emboldened by Kennedy’s earlier misadventure, the Soviets secretly positioned missiles in Cuba — drastically reducing US response time in the event of a missile launch by Moscow. This led to a test of wills between Moscow and Washington that brought the two superpowers to the brink of war.
It was high-stakes poker. The Soviets were ultimately forced to back down, but not because of Kennedy’s courage. Unsure whether Moscow was willing to go to war, Kennedy was able to see what cards the Soviets held. A courageous Russian spy working for Washington in Moscow by the name of Colonel Oleg Penkovsky provided Kennedy with his answer. Kennedy bluffed his way through the crisis. The information later cost Penkovsky his life.
Inexperience and naivete in the White House would come back to haunt the US again seventeen years after the Bay of Pigs disaster. An American public anxious for change voted into office a US president whose later actions paved the way for Iran’s Ahmadinejad.
As civil unrest hit Iran in 1979, Jimmy Carter pressured Tehran’s pro-US Shah to abandon his country to a man Carter believed to be Islam’s Mahatma Gandhi — the Ayotollah Ruhollah Khomeini. This “Gandhi” turned out to be more like Attila the Hun. Khomeini embarked upon a purge grander than the reign of terror introduced by the French Revolution’s Robespierre almost two centuries earlier. Carter’s naivete provided Islamic extremism with a national flag and a breeding ground for exporting Islamofascism abroad and into the 21st century. America’s reward for Carter’s assistance was the seizure of the US embassy and hostages there, followed by Tehran’s designation of the US as the “Great Satan.”
We have been in a perpetual and undeclared war with Iran ever since.
It is interesting to note Iran has behaved only when it perceived a forceful American president occupied the office. Within hours after Ronald Reagan took the oath, our hostages in Iran were released. Similarly, as the US prepared to invade Iraq in 2003, the Iranians toed the line out of fear the invasion may not stop there. It is doubtful the Iranians will perceive as “forceful” a US president who is on record as saying he will meet them sans any preconditions.
Of course, the Iranians already knew, from Obama’s earlier actions, he would be a weak-kneed leader. They gained this insight last year when Obama refused to vote for the Kyl-Lieberman amendment, which sought to label the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps — the organization of holy Islamic warriors that has left its violent footprint throughout the region — on the grounds it constituted “saber-rattling.” Color as “weak” — from Iran’s viewpoint, and ours — any US leader who refuses to officially label a terrorist group as “terrorists.”
Even our European allies are concerned about Obama’s stance towards Iran. While it has been difficult to present a unified front, on one point all agree — no direct talks with Tehran unless it first suspends its nuclear enrichment program. This demand has been enshrined in every UN resolution passed on the issue. If anything, European leaders are even more hard-lined on this precondition due to all the lies and delays by Iran over the years. Meanwhile, Obama disparages the multilateral process in approaching Iran and the European contribution. His position will not endear him to our European allies.
Ignoring the fact the only times Iranian extremists reigned in their adventurism was in the face of US resolve, Obama believes he, as president, is capable of talking rationally with an Iranian leadership incapable of doing so. It is inexperience that causes one to boast he can do what three-decades of domination by theocratic extremism in Iran’s leadership and the failure of the international community in curtailing Tehran’s nuclear program tells us cannot be done.
The next occupant of the White House must possess a doctorate degree in Islamic extremism and, in particular, in understanding Iran’s role in spreading it worldwide. We simply cannot afford to vote into office at this critical time, a president who has yet to read “Islamic Extremism for Dummies.”