Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Leave Iranian "Terrorist" Organization Alone

Today's Wall Street Journal ran a story today concerning an impending legal challenge to be launched by an Iranian dissident group called "Mujahedin e-Khalq" (MEK). They will be challenging the designation by the State Department under former Secretary of State Rice that they are a terrorist organization. This group has recently won similar lawsuits against the British government and the European Union, much to the dismay of the regime in Tehran and Qom. According to the news article, the group has been charged by the State Department with such "terrorist" acts as assassinating senior Iranian officials and bombing overseas Iranian [diplomatic] missions. The article goes on to say that the group has renounced it's violent past and is more concerned now with bringing outside pressure on the government in charge in Iran. However, even if they were still engaged in the aforesaid activities, the fact that the U.S. government would designate such acts as terrorism merely underlines two related problems with current U.S. strategy in the war. The first is not properly identifying the enemy while the second is prioritizing negotiation and diplomacy with our actual mortal enemies above eliminating them.

Terrorism, by which I mean the use of any tactic designed to strike terror and fear into the civilian population of an enemy, is a tactical approach or even a strategic decision made on the part of a belligerent state or group. To fight a war on it, as such, would be to condemn ourselves and every other country that has ever made the strategic decision to make a war terrible for the civilians of an enemy nation in order to get them to quit/surrender. War, particularly if existential survival is at stake, sanctions all tactics whether we want to admit it or not, so long as those tactics are aimed at bringing the war to a quick and successful conclusion (i.e. punishing the enemy for initiating force or threatening it, and guaranteeing to the extent possible that they never will do so again). Our enemy is not terrorism anymore than it is flanking maneuvers or amphibious landings or paratrooper invasions. Our enemy is the people and states currently employing terrorism to kill and subdue us. They are Islamic radicals and fundamentalists who literally believe that an imaginary super-being commands them to kill those who don't believe in their delusions and martyr themselves if necessary in order to wipe non-believers and enemies of the faith off the earth. As the United States is clearly and obviously the most powerful nation of the western world, the part of humanity which has clearly staked itself (in fits and starts, inconsistent and half-hearted) to advancing humanity, civilization, reason, science and life -- in essence, everything Islam and its fundamental adherents are against -- we are ipso facto their prime enemy. They understand this implicitly and they occasionally identify it explicitly. Western post-modern hubris and self-immolation is so advanced that our so-called intellectuals scoff at this motivation as "simplistic" (as if identifying, let alone hating, the essential characteristics of a competing civilization were a simple and easy task to perform) and instead point to some alleged "imperialism" in our foreign policy as the "real" cause of these people's discontent. This explanation is, for reasons I will not go into in depth here, fraught with historical inaccuracy as well as being logically quite convoluted.

Since our diplomats and leaders cannot properly identify our enemy, and instead have targeted a tactic, every use of said tactic is now illegitimate regardless of context. Now I'm no expert on what MEK's goals are or what they would do with Iran if they somehow toppled the Islamic theocracy in power, but I do know that the current Iranian government is a radical Islamic terror regime par excellence. They have waged an open and deadly war against us from the very inception of the regime and we have responded as lamely and as meekly as anyone could from Carter forward without exception. MEK is a group that has every right, as human beings resorting to their natural right to throw off tyranny and revolt, to assassinate government officials and target its representatives in Iran and elsewhere. To do as the Iranian government wishes and to condemn MEK for waging a war on evil (tyranny and the kind of anti-reason, anti-life policies of the "Islamic Republic of Iran" are about as evil as anything that exists today) is repulsive and reprehensible. I'm not saying we should support this group, but we certainly should not punish them for doing the proper thing in attacking an illegal, oppressive, and tyrannical regime we don't even officially recognize.

Of course, our reason for doing this is to curry some diplomatic points in order to diplomatically dissuade the Iranians from developing a nuclear weapon. Our diplomats and their bosses seriously believe this can work, as seriously as diplomats believed that they could resolve the crisis in the Balkans in 1914 and as seriously as Neville Chamberlain believed he could diplomatically "dissuade" Adolf Hitler. We continue to use diplomacy on a regime that declared war on us thirty years ago. This begs an obvious question: when will we realize they are not screwing around? We need to start taking some lessons from MEK about how to deal with those in charge of Iran and not a moment should be spared in our education. However, all that I've been discussing is leftover Bush policies. His replacement was elected to soften his predecessor's alleged hawkishness and to rely on "diplomacy first." President Obama is unlikely to do anything approaching what is appropriate in this matter without another attack from the Iranians on us or an ally, I just hope too many people do not have to die for his (and his predecessor's) errors and false hope in diplomacy.


Anonymous said...

I thoroughly enjoyed reading your insights about this topic. You made some very valuable points and offered a refreshing perspective. However, a couple of points of clarification and additional information are needed (which I am more than happy to provide).

1) You stated "Our enemy is the people and states currently employing terrorism to kill and subdue us. They are Islamic radicals and fundamentalists who literally believe that an imaginary super-being commands them to kill those who don't believe in their delusions and martyr themselves if necessary in order to wipe non-believers and enemies of the faith off the earth.
Clarification: I see quite a parallel to beliefs and actions of the leaders of the United States as well. For instance, George Dubbya has claimed he was told by God to invade Iraq and attack Osama bin Laden's stronghold of Afghanistan as part of a divine mission to bring peace to the Middle East, security for Israel, and a state for the Palestinians.

2)Reading your post, I was surprised to notice that you had not addressed the fact that the Mujahideen were significantly financed and armed (and were trained) by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) during the Carter and Reagan administrations.

Moreover, under Reagan, U.S. support for the mujahideen evolved into an official U.S. foreign policy, known as the Reagan Doctrine, which included U.S. support for anti-Soviet resistance movements in Afghanistan, Angola, Nicaragua, and elsewhere. If my memory serves correct, Ronald Reagan praised mujahideen as "freedom fighters".

Regarding your insights on the Mujahadeen's interests to have the "terrorists" label disassociated with their names: I believe that their pro-democratic image have helped them win support among some U.S. and European lawmakers.

What one may find interesting is that the Mujahadeen advocate the ideology that socialism and religion can live side by side, however they claim that they also advocate a separation of religion and state.

In fact, its been stated that if the MEK were to gain control in Iran, they would establish a sixteen-point plan that stemmed from a 1995 conference, which ensures rights like the freedoms of speech and religion, adheres to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and improves ties with foreign governments, according to the Center for Policing Terrorism.

Alexander said...

The only thing I wish to remark upon is the equivocation made between the former President and Osama Bin Laden. While Bush's religiosity was certainly a harmful and dangerous element to his thought process, principally in attaching itself, via him, to otherwise reasonable propositions. And for all of his annoying evangelical fervor, Bush is a mixed bag. Some elements of his persona and thought are clearly mystical/irrational, but there are other elements, probably left over from the period before he "found" Christ, which are not. Regardless of motivation, there can be no equivocation between the legal actions of a government under former President Bush's administration the only proximate cause for which was an outrageous terrorist attack on U.S. soil, and the unprovoked, hostile, irrational, immoral, and extra-legal actions of Osama Bin Laden.

I am no fan of George W. Bush and I greatly resent constantly being put into situations where I am forced to defend him against spurious, irrational, or downright deceptive criticisms and remarks. Please do not create such a situation again, I do not enjoy these asides.