July 8, 2016
As Barack Obama’s tenure comes to a close, political analysts are already drawing comparisons between the current administration and that of Jimmy Carter’s. Both proved to be exceedingly inept at dealing with emerging foreign crises, both were harshly and unfairly critical of Israel and both betrayed loyal allies, utilizing all methods available to undermine friends while propping up hostile foes. The personification of this doctrine is best illustrated by that manner in which both administrations empowered and emboldened the mullahs of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The Islamic fundamentalist takeover of Iran in 1979 was a disastrous occurrence that was avoidable but made possible by the Carter administration. Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, also known as the Shah of Iran, was a powerful and reliable U.S. ally in a volatile region plagued by the forces of extremism. His government served as a bulwark against Communist expansion and Islamic fundamentalism. He modernized Iran, improved infrastructure, increased living standards and wages, improved literacy, lowered infant mortality and tellingly, in a region where misogyny was pervasive, provided equal rights for women.
Nonetheless, the Shah’s human rights record proved to be inadequate for the Carter administration, which began a concerted campaign to undermine his government. Recently declassified government records reveal the shocking extent which Carter and his lackeys betrayed a long-time U.S. ally. But not only did Carter help depose the Shah, he facilitated the ascendancy of an Islamic fundamentalist regime that would give the United States headaches for the next 35 years and beyond.
Toward the latter part of 1978 and early 1979, Iran was wracked by violence and chaos. Demonstrations and clashes with the security forces were a daily occurrence and labor strikes ground business to a halt. But those seeking to overthrow the regime were not necessarily fundamentalist Islamists. Many were secular oriented and had no desire to see the monarchy replaced by an even more tyrannical theocracy.
But Carter, who was small-minded, naïve and lacked any foresight (attributes found in Obama), decided to hedge his bets with Ayatollah Khomeini. At the time Khomeini was living in luxurious exile in France. The shrewd fanatic employed the well-known Islamic practice of taqiyya to fool Carter into believing that he was interested in maintaining good relations with the U.S., that the flow of oil would be uninterrupted and that Iran’s Jews had nothing to fear. Carter fell hook, line and sinker for the charade and employed various behind- the-scenes schemes to hasten the Shah’s downfall utilizing career hacks to facilitate the betrayal.
One of the sordid characters employed by the Carter was former undersecretary of state George Ball. In addition to being a rabid Israel-hater, Ball also exhibited extreme hostility to the Shah. Carter also employed Air Force General Robert Huyser. Hyyser played a central role in Carter’s plot. He went to Iran and in a heavy-handed way, persuaded high-level Iranian military commanders not to oppose the fundamentalists and to allow Khomeini to return to Iran unmolested. The Iranian military was still fiercely loyal to the Shah and could have mounted effective resistance but lacking U.S. backing, was forced to abdicate. Many of those same military officials, who acquiesced to U.S. dictates under false assurances, were subsequently executed by the new regime.
Of course, Khomeini kept none of the promises he made to Carter and Carter’s perfidy led to the ascendancy of a malign regional influence and the world’s premier state-sponsor of terrorism. That, among many other domestic and foreign miscues, will be Jimmy Carter’s legacy.
In his shady dealings with the Islamic Republic, Barack Obama personified the same short-sighted foolhardiness demonstrated by Carter. He signed a deal with the Iranians that still enables them to keep elements of their nuclear program opaque and which still allows them to export their terror worldwide. Even worse, restrictions imposed on the program begin to taper off after 8-10 years leaving the door wide open for the Iranians to legally resume their nefarious nuclear activities.
In the meantime, the Iranians have continued to develop their ballistic missile program in defiance of UNSC resolution 2231. Iran’s continued research and development in ballistic missile technology has but one aim — to deliver a weapon of mass destruction. Iran made minimal concessions for the deal but in exchange, received access to $150 Billion, international legitimacy and now has John Kerry absurdly lobbying on their behalf.
Obama’s dealings with Iran however, were in many ways more troublesome than Carter’s. Obama blatantly lied to the American people claiming that negotiations with the Iranians did not begin until 2013, when the so-called “moderate” Hassan Rouhani was “elected” (to the extent that such a process exists in Iran) as Iran’s president.
But we now know that Obama’s outreach to the Islamists of Iran began well before 2013. According to documents obtained by the Middle East Media Research Institute, the Obama administration began its preliminary nuclear negotiations with Iran while the Holocaust-denying Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was still president, belying the administration’s claim that it was the transition of power from radical to moderate that triggered the American policy of engagement.
Carter will be remembered as the president who was instrumental in facilitating the rise of a toxic Islamic fundamentalist regime. But Obama will be remembered as the president who enabled them to acquire a nuclear bomb, through an ill-conceived and deleterious agreement. Political commentator Charles Krauthammer accurately summed up the Iran deal as “the worst agreement in U.S. diplomatic history,” but given the high stakes, that characterization may actually be an understatement.
Ari Lieberman is an attorney and former prosecutor who has authored numerous articles and publications on matters concerning the Middle East and is considered an authority on geo-political and military developments affecting the region.