The enduring disaster of the Carter Presidency

I just finished a newly-published first person account of events in Iran over roughly a 20 year period between 1970 and 1991 – A Time to Betray by Reza Kahlili. Like similar personal chronicles of survivors of the Holocaust and comparable Twentieth Century atrocities, the depravity and cruelty of the Iranian mullahs with their Revolutionary Guard zealots defies any rationalization. As this aberrant behavior took hold among those who had ousted the Shah, the author turned from moderate Khomeni supporter to active CIA operative.

Even as I watched the video of the student rioters Islamic thugs surging over the fences of our Embassy in Tehran so many years ago, my first thought was "They would never even have dared try this if we had a President worthy of the office." Certainly the ensuing debacle of Carter’s obsequious entreaties to Khomeni and his radical Islamist supporters was painful for Americans to witness.  Jimmie pea-nuts was the first American President to grovel before a foreign power – although it is also clearly the instinctive reaction for the current occupant of the office. As Khalili details, this was a deliberate, carefully-orchestrated assault intended to humiliate "the Great Satan" and exploit the weakness of the credulous incompetent in the Oval Office. Khomeni succeeded and the Islamists flocked to his cause.

Further, this success inspired and empowered the fanatics of the Revolutionary Guard and its counterparts in other parts of Iranian society. Khalili shows how the RG proceeded to infiltrate terrorist teams across the globe, create sub rosa links to rogue states such as North Korea, obtain weapons and training from their co-religionists, the PRC and the French (among others), ally themselves with localized terrorist groups like the Red Army Faction, Basque Separatists or IRA, how they created Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and other organizations as fronts for their international jihadist campaign. And Jimmie piddle-pants? Well, he prayed they would find peace in their hearts. When he finally authorized action, the limitations he imposed on the resources committed and the RoE foreordained its failure – which further energized the fanatics.

The author’s focus is not on the US Presidents (although he does note in passing, chronologically within his narrative, how all of them since 1975 have failed the people of Iran in some measure at different points), but rather how Iran and its people have been butchered and intimidated by Islamic zealots. Still, I remember that fateful Sunday vividly, and my anger then was second only to what I would feel almost 22 years later. Thus, as Khalili documents the spreading cancer of the Iranian mullahs and the RG, it is impossible, for me at least, not to see how Carter’s pitiful, sniveling, behavior in 1979/80 opened the gates to these barbaric troglodytes.

The parallel of this to the Iranian nuclear weapons program and the current utterly unqualified incompetent is equally obvious. The disproportionate cost of Carter’s cowardly ineptitude must not repeated in the coming years with the far higher table stakes represented by crazed suicidal cultists on the verge of obtaining nuclear weapons. Nevertheless, but for Jimmie piddle-pants, we’d not be faced with this horrific possibility in the first place. Only history will know whether he or Ø was the greater failure, but for the sake of our descendants, let us hope the former’s place is secure.