Amnesia, Ignorance and Denial on Iran

There seems to be a collective combination of amnesia, ignorance and denial with regard to the Islamic Republic of Iran and its actions toward the U.S.

These attitudes prompt some to believe that an Iran armed with nuclear weapons is no big deal, not any different, but of a lower magnitude, than the Soviet nuclear threat of the Cold War.

There is also a tendency dismiss Iran’s longstanding status as the world’s foremost sponsor of jihadist terrorism.

There is even a wing of apologists for Iran who increasingly accuse other Americans of wanting a war with Iran.

They have done so repeatedly.

An example is this interview of Center for Security Policy Chief Executive Officer Fred Fleitz:

In that video, the interviewer, Tucker Carlson repeatedly makes the accusation that unnamed Americans want to go to war against Iran–to the point that it almost paints a picture of Iran as a victim in the current tensions.

When Fred Fleitz pointed out Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism, Carlson set a new standard for evaluating terrorist attacks on U.S. citizens, trying to make the case that Iran has not attacked Americans—a case that is demonstrably false.

These are not new themes. It was much worse in May of 2018 in an interview Carlson conducted on his show.

In the segment, Carlson interviewed retired Colonel Douglas Macgregor about Iran’s relations with the U.S.

Macgregor endorsed the horribly flawed Iran nuclear deal and essentially implied that the U.S. is but a puppet for Israel and Saudi Arabia.

There was no challenge to Macgregor’s statements and Carlson contributed with some straw man arguments of his own that appeared to back up what Macgregor was saying.

The straw men start to appear at the :45 mark of the 5 minute video when Carlson asks the question of Macgregor, “Is it in our strategic interests to have a conflict with Iran?”

This implies that the only choice at the time was between accepting the flawed Iran nuclear deal or going to war.

Carlson then essentially accused then-U.S. U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley of calling for war with Iran, something that she never said. Carlson goes on with this line of reasoning by claiming that “many Republicans in Congress and a lot of Democrats believe that it is essential that the United States goes to war with Iran.”

No one in Congress has said or written anything close to approaching that it is essential that we go to war with Iran. Some members of Congress, almost all of them on the Republican side, believe in dealing with Iran from a position of strength, but no one is offering the false choice that is offered in this interview, namely that we either accept the Iran nuclear agreement or we go to war.

At the 1:30 mark Colonel Macgregor stated clearly that opponents of the Iran nuclear deal sought its demise to clear the way for “direct military confrontation.” Carlson neither questions this statement nor challenges Macgregor that there may be other possibilities besides war.

Macgregor’s remark at the 2:32 mark is particularly troubling to those of us in the counterjihad movement because he claims that the Europeans see the threat from “Sunni Islamists” and not Iran.

First of all, there is scant evidence that the Europeans have truly recognized the threat from Sunni Jihad in all its forms. But most importantly, Macgregor ignores the fact that the threat from Iran to Europe is unique in that Iran has an active, robust ballistic missile program and, clearly, a secret, illicit nuclear weapons program.The biggest straw man that Carlson set up was creating a whole new standard for terrorist attacks against the U.S. and its citizens…at the 2:40 mark of the interview Carlson states that he does not recall any Shia terror attacks “on our soil.” (Emphasis added)

This appears to be contrived for the benefit of Macgregor’s agenda, because by adding the qualifier “on our soil,” all of the Hezbollah attacks in which U.S. citizens were killed are suddenly erased.

Never before has the threshold for determining whether a Jihadist organization was our enemy been whether or not they have launched attacks within the U.S.

The static on this issue became magnified this week when the Democrat-controlled House passed a National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) with provisions to tie President Trump’s hands as commander in chief in dealing with Iran.

The NDAA would attempt to prevent the president from using military force against Iran without the express prior approval of Congress—a singularly unworkable concept that could conceivably prohibit the US military from defending itself against Iranian attacks.

Even some Republicans bought into this chicanery:

“If my war-hungry colleagues, some of whom have already suggested we invade Venezuela and North Korea and probably a few other countries before lunchtime tomorrow, if they’re so certain of their case against Iran,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz (R., Fla.), “let them bring their authorization to use military force against Iran to this very floor. Let them make the case to Congress and the American people.”

The irony of tying the president’s hands against Iran is that it would embolden the Ayatollahs and make a shooting war more likely, not less likely.

It’s not as if the Iranians need any encouragement to support violence against Americans. Iran has already been fighting a proxy war against the U.S. since the very genesis of the Islamic revolution.

Here is a partial list of what the Ayatollahs have done over the past 40 years:

It is worth noting at this point that Hezbollah is essentially a branch of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. It could be regarded as an Iranian Foreign Legion.

Hezbollah and Al Qaeda cooperation has been documented elsewhere for some time, as detailed by the non-partisan Council on Foreign Relations.

In November 2017, the CIA released files taken from the Osama Bin Laden raid showing evidence of ties between Iran and Al Qaeda.

In March 2012, the head of the New York Police Department’s Intelligence Division, revealed to a Congressional panel that Iranian personnel had been caught conducting reconnaissance of New York targets at least a half dozen times since 9/11.

The best way to deal with an aggressive opponent is from a position of strength. This does not mean that the U.S. should march irretrievably toward war with Iran. But the U.S. must be prepared to use force to defend its national security interests. In dealing with Iran, history has shown that weakness emboldens them. In other words, weakness increases the likelihood of war and, doubtless, the Ayatollahs would like nothing more than to see President Trump’s hands tied the way that the House NDAA would do.


About Christopher Holton

Christopher Holton is Vice President for Outreach at the Center for Security Policy. Mr. Holton came to the Center after serving as president and marketing director of Blanchard & Co. and editor-in-chief of the Blanchard Economic Research Unit from 1990 to 2003. As chief of the Blanchard Economic Research Unit in 2000, he conceived and commissioned the Center for Security Policy special report “Clinton’s Legacy: The Dangerous Decade.” Holton is a member of the Board of Advisers of Follow Holton on Twitter @CHoltonCSP