In early February, the French sent a delegation of over 100 important business executives to Iran to discuss the prospects of commercial ties once the international sanctions against that “Islamic Republic” are eased.
Why should we care? In the second week of February, Iran sent two of its naval “rust buckets” to put in an appearance in international waters off the coast of the United States.
Why should we care? A few days ago, Iranian Armed Forces Chief of Staff, Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi announced that the Islamic Republic is prepared for a “decisive battle with America” should hostilities break out in the Middle East.
Why should we care? After all, what difference does it make if Iran emerges — after a long standoff with America — as a victorious economic power in the Middle East? Is there any real threat to U.S. national security if a couple of tubs we could blow out of the water with a nod putter around international waters off our coast? Does it make any real difference to us that some blustery Iranian military bigshot makes some noisy boast about Iran’s ability to “take us on?”
Before we dismiss these developments as trivial long-distance commerce and pathetic saber-rattling showmanship, let me ask you to name the three greatest threats to American security at work in the world today? I’ll assume somewhere on that list you might place radical Islamist fundamentalist militants. If you don’t think this group poses a significant threat, then you don’t need to give these Iranian developments another thought.
On the other hand, if you regard the multiplication, concentration, coordination, encouragement and financing of militant Islamic fundamentalists as a significant threat to our peace and security, take another look at these news items.
To put this in context, let me ask you, who is the most prominent power in the Islamic world today? No matter how you answer this question, Iran claims to be the only true Islamic power worthy of the name. Here’s how they back up their claim.
According to Iran, they faced down the “American Satan” in the hostage situation of the late 70s. They seized our citizens, held them captive as long as it pleased them and released them when it pleased Iran.
Iran boasts that in the eight-year war between the Islamic Republic and Iraq, the “American Satan” backed Saddam Hussein. When the dust settled after that war, it was Iran on its feet with Iraq a chastened dog trembling in Iran’s shadow.
According to Iran, when the Americans and Israelis confronted Hezbollah, Iran’s client in Lebanon, Hezbollah — with Iran’s support and encouragement — withstood the onslaught and emerged from this holy battle stronger than ever with America and Israel in retreat.
Iran insists that when America sought to force the Islamic Republic into submission through unilateral sanctions, Iran refused to be intimidated. Even in the face of the combined sanctions of the infidel Western powers, Iran insists it refused to yield and its righteous fortitude brought these decadent powers to the bargaining table.
According to Iran, the infidels are now dancing to Iran’s tune.
At one time, Saudi Arabia and Egypt might claim to be the rightful leaders of the Islamic world. But now, Iran insists Saudi Arabia is a Western lackey and, though elected to leadership by a vote of “the faithful,” the Muslim brotherhood in Egypt was, through Western treachery, overthrown.
Iran is pointing to all this as proof that the Islamic Republic is the only true defender of the faithful in the Islamic world and all those who wish to strike a blow for Islam should rally to the Iranian banner.
Iran’s prestige in the Islamic world has never been higher. It is attempting to exploit the instability in Egypt. It is seeking to destabilize the ruling family of Saudi Arabia. It is preparing a list of proofs that Iran is divinely chosen to be the leader of the Islamic world. The latest bullet points in this list are the collapse of sanctions, the display of military defiance at the very shores of the United States and the announcement to the world that Iran is prepared to engage in the final battle with the “American Satan.”
Maybe we really don’t have anything to worry about. Maybe Iran can be appeased and trusted to become a reasonable and cooperative international partner. Maybe it has no dreams of seeing Islamic power imposed on all the nations of the world. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I keep hearing a quote by Edmund Burke, “Dangers, by being despised, grow great.”
I’m Hink and I’ll see ya.
MIKE HINKLE is a retired attorney and Edmond resident.