Iran: Never Held Accountable

by CHRISTOPHER HOLTON September 1, 2015

The Obama administration has embarked upon a path to reward decades of bad behavior by the Islamic Republic of Iran in the futile hope that Iran will become benevolent and cease its warlike actions and intentions toward the West in general and the U.S. and Israel in particular.

As futile as the idea of negotiating a nuclear deal with the Ayatollahs seems to sober Americans and our allies today, we must first set the record straight on those policies of the past that Obama and his supporters say that they are determined to change: America has never had a "tough" policy toward the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Iran has been allowed to kidnap and kill Americans for decades, whether directly or by proxy, without fear of severe repercussions. For years the U.S. State Department has declared that Iran is the world's "most active" sponsor of terrorism, yet the Ayatollahs have not been forced to pay a significant price. Iran has armed and aided our enemies -including al Qaeda-and threatened our allies and has gotten away with it.

Iran has killed Americans for over 40 years, sponsored Hezbollah, HAMAS and al Qaeda and has repeatedly threatened America and our allies.

Iran was complicit in the Hezbollah Islamikaze attacks on the U.S. embassy in Beirut, Lebanon in April 1983 and the US Marine barracks there in October 1983. In the attack on the Marine barracks, 241 U.S. Marines, sailors and soldiers were killed. In fact, until September 11, 2001, Hezbollah had killed more Americans than any other terrorist organization.

It should be pointed out that Iran is not just a sponsor of Hezbollah. Iran formed Hezbollah and has always trained and continues to train its operatives in Lebanon and inside Iran. Hezbollah basically operates as an Iranian foreign legion.Worst of all, the Iranians have been developing nuclear weapons in violation of international law (along with the ballistic missiles with which to deliver them) and, still, there has been no tough policy toward Iran.Though it may seem to many Americans as if the Iranian nuclear program has only come about in the past few years, it has actually been known to policymakers for a very long time.

Consider that over 20 years ago in the January 4, 1994 edition of USA Today, Clinton administration Undersecretary of State Lynn Davis had this to say about Iran's nuclear program: "Iran's actions leave little doubt that Tehran is intent upon developing a nuclear weapons capability. They are inconsistent with any rational civil nuclear program."

What did the Clinton administration do to head off Iran's nuclear program after this startling admission about Iran's nuclear intentions? Virtually nothing.For nearly three decades now since Iranian "students" invaded the U.S. embassy in Tehran and took U.S. hostages, sanctions against Iran have been a widely believed urban legend - and nothing more.

Even during that hostage crisis of 1979-81, President Carter was unsuccessful in convincing our closest NATO allies and Japan to participate in economic sanctions against Iran. Not even Great Britain was willing to cut off trade with Iran during that crisis period.

The U.S. has had to "go it alone" on Iran for decades. But even the U.S. has imposed only limited unilateral sanctions against Iran and never broad, far-reaching sanctions. Three successive administrations, Clinton, Bush and Obama didn't even bother to enforce our own sanctions against Iran.

The Iran Sanctions Act, authored by Sen. Alphonse D'Amato of New York passed both houses of Congress with virtually no opposition back in 1996. That bill would have placed any foreign oil company with over $20 million in investments in Iran's oil and gas sector under U.S. sanctions. Companies like Shell and Total would have been forced to choose between doing business in America or in Iran. President Clinton signed it into law - and promptly issued waivers by executive order to every single oil company that would have been affected. Unfortunately, President Bush, on the advice of the geniuses at the State Department, continued that same waiver policy during his eight years in office. Unsurprisingly, Obama has followed suit as the list of foreign oil companies doing business in Iran became more Russian and Chinese in recent years.Moreover, America has allowed our own corporations to bypass U.S. sanctions laws by using foreign cut-outs and subsidiaries to do business with the Ayatollahs. In fact, during the eight years of the Bush administration, U.S. trade with Iran actually expanded. This is especially shocking given that during much of this period Iran was operating directly in support of Jihadist insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan who were killing American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, providing the terrorists with training, logistics, safe haven and advanced weaponry.

Iran was the primary supplier of deadly EFP-IEDs (Explosively Formed Penetrator-Improvised Explosive Devices) to the insurgents in Iraq and operated training camps for those insurgents inside Iran.

As for sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council, they have been even more limited to certain aspects of nuclear technology and arms, with virtually no impact on the Iranian economy. Even these limited sanctions have no teeth at all, which is why Iran's largest arms suppliers, Russia and China, were willing to allow them to pass in the first place.

The fact is, Iran has felt little economic pressure due to sanctions since that day 21+ years ago in January 1994 when the Clinton State Department admitted to USA Today that Iran was working on nuclear weapons.

Our government has failed us. Our leaders have failed us.

What is so frustrating to those of us who are worried about the Iranian threat and have for years sought a peaceful means of addressing Iran's nuclear program and its sponsorship of terrorism, is the fact that there have never been any meaningful measures taken to bring pressure on Iran.

It is especially disappointing that America and the rest of the Free World are not willing to apply economic leverage on Iran right now because now President Obama is poised to hand the genocidal Ayatollahs in Qom a windfall of hundreds of billions of dollars in both sanctions relief and freed assets.

President Obama has declared repeatedly that "there's been a lot of mistrust built up over the years" between the US and Iran.

Given that Iran has made killing Americans its national sport and sponsoring Jihadist terrorist organizations its national pastime, why should America trust the Ayatollahs?The next time someone tells you that we need to approve the Iranian nuclear deal "because sanctions haven't worked," you should point out that tough, comprehensive sanctions have never been imposed on Iran.

One day, we are all going to wake up, turn on the TV news and discover that the Ayatollahs have The Bomb. Our children and our children's children will always wonder how we let it happen.    

 






Christopher Holton is a Vice President with the Center for Security Policy and the Director of its Divest Terror Initiative. Chris Holton is a past 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 WorldTribune.com.

 


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