From Persia, with love

Iran is a country with a Napoleonic complex. Like the infamous French dictator, the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran desire to conquer and control, except they have their sites set on the Middle East. It’s as though they want to rebuild the Persian Empire, only with a Supreme Leader rather than a Shah.

Since the 1979 revolution, the response to Iran from the liberal left has been a mixture of praise and silence. TIME magazine named Ayatollah Khomeini its “Man of the Year” in 1979, yet they were quiet when he supported the hostage-takers in the Iranian hostage crisis and when he called for the death of Salmon Rushdie, a British Indian citizen, after Rushdie published The Satanic Verses.

Awarding the Ayatollah the title “Man of the Year” is so ironic that it’s absurd. That’s like giving Al Gore or Barack Obama a Nobel Prize…hold on, they did. My bad.

I believe that the most liberal and progressive Americans don’t really dislike the extreme fanaticism of the Islamic Revolution or its current leadership. In their minds, they would rather live under strict Shi’a rule in Iran than be governed by a conservative Christian in America. After all, Iran may require women to wear head-to-toe burkas, deny them the right to vote or drive and execute them for adultery, but conservative Christians? They are, gasp (!), pro-life. Unenlightened Neanderthals!

The last few years, mainly since Obama’s election, have witnessed an increase in troublesome activity by the Iranian leadership. In response, President Obama has maintained economic sanctions and given them many stern lectures which have been supported by Western leaders (think Jeremiah Wright preaching to his choir) yet, for some reason, Iran has continued its acts of defiance. Nuclear fuel rods are being enriched, short and medium range missiles are being tested and now Iran is threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz.

I can’t imagine why repeated sanctions and stern lectures have only emboldened the Iranian leadership. Think with me for a moment, what can be done that will really send them a message? Hmm…I know! What this situation needs is another economic sanction.

Lo and behold, they got one! On New Year’s Eve Obama signed into law a new economic sanction that would, according to Reuter’s, “cut off any financial institutions that work with Iran’s central bank from the U.S. financial system, blocking the main path for payments for Iranian oil.” Step aside, boys, there’s a new sheriff in town.

So what is the media’s response to Obama’s “tough” stance? I hope you’re sitting down, because most outlets are reporting that his actions are …wait for it…a success. Who would have guessed? Apparently there is runaway inflation and a demand for American dollars in Iran, so three days of unilateral American actions (Europe has yet to impose the sanctions, China and India still buy Iranian crude oil) have begun to cripple Iran. Right.

Sadly, the media and the president, as well as many in Congress, are extremely shortsighted and are not students of recent American history. At the start of the hostage crisis, President Carter froze Iranian assets in the U.S. Within six months, wealthy foreign investors began to wonder about the safety of their American investments and started converting their dollars into gold and other currencies; as a result, the demand for the dollar began to plummet worldwide. This directly triggered the financial panic of 1980, which took most of Reagan’s presidency to recover from.

That’s only recent history. Let us not forget the long-term sanctions imposed on North Korea and Cuba, which did nothing but hurt the average citizens. Did these result in the overthrow of Kim Jung-Il or Fidel Castro? No.

Worse, misapplied economic sanctions can sometimes hurt those who impose it more than just financially. One example- the economic punishment of Germany after World War I directly led to the rise of Hitler. Will our current actions actually popularize and promote Ahmadinejad to that level?

I do not support Iran’s actions; neither do I support increased American sanctions. Whatever response America takes, it needs to be quick and decisive. An ill-planned, knee-jerk economic reaction may backfire and end up hurting us financially or even lead us into war. That would be Ahmadinejad’s dream. To him, war would be a gift to America from Persia, with love.