Special to WorldTribune, October 22, 2019
Analysis by Christopher W. Holton, Center for Security Policy
Tulsi Gabbard, one of the minor candidates from the 20-strong field of Democrat presidential hopefuls, has been getting a considerable amount of attention due to Hillary Clinton’s allegations that she is a “Russian asset.”
While it is true that Kremlin-backed web sites have published numerous articles about Gabbard, no sober person really believes she is a “Russian asset.” In my opinion the Russians like her because of her positions on U.S. national security, which, if they ever became policy, would essentially open great opportunities for Vladimir Putin to assert Russian influence in the world at America’s expense.
What warrants much more scrutiny are Gabbard’s bizarre, dangerous views on Iran. Her public statements on Iran almost amount to shilling for the Ayatollahs. She clearly admires Iran and she takes a “blame America first” position on relations between Iran and the U.S.
Her expressed knowledge of Iran-U.S. history is superficial at best.
The Ayatollahs’ Favorite Candidate
Her pro-Iran stance, combined with her anti-Semitic support for anti-BDS legislation directed at Israel put her far outside the mainstream of U.S. politics.
It’s not necessarily a bad thing to be outside the mainstream of U.S. politics, but when a politician’s views are so clearly supportive of a sworn enemy of our country, those views merit scrutiny–which is what I aim to do here.
Gabbard makes her views on Iran a feature of her stance on the issues. On her campaign web site she dedicates a page to Iran.
It’s too bad that so much of what she says there just isn’t true.
She starts off by saying she is “against war with Iran.” This is a thinly veiled accusation, frequently made by the Left, against always unnamed people who are supposedly calling for war with Iran. The problem is, no one ever produces evidence of anyone in US policymaking circles calling for going to war with Iran.
What Gabbard is doing here is using scare tactics: “Vote for me because I am against war with Iran, unlike others, who are for war with Iran.”
It’s just flat dishonest.
Another claim that Gabbard makes is that war with Iran would strengthen Al Qaida. There is just as much evidence that going to war with Iran would weaken Al Qaida as there is evidence that it would strengthen Iran.
After all, Iran has provided Al Qaida with safe haven and, according to a verdict in U.S. federal court, Iran provided Al Qaida with support for the September 11 attacks. Beyond that, Iran has a decades-long history of relations with Al Qaida.
What Gabbard implies by saying war with Iran would strengthen Al Qaida is that Iran is an enemy of Al Qaida. That is not true and it never has been.
Gabbard is either ignorant or dishonest on this point.
Gabbard supported the flawed, fraudulent Iran Nuclear Deal (JCPOA). The JCPOA actually granted Iran a clear path to nuclear weapons, was largely unverifiable and failed to address Iran’s ballistic missile program, and sponsorship of terrorism.
To this day, Gabbard calls for the U.S. to re-enter that deal which Iran has violated and which overtly clears the way for Iran to have nuclear weapons in the future.
This is part of the false choice that Gabbard and those of her ilk deceive the American people into believing they have to make: That false choice is between war with Iran and accepting the flawed JCPOA.
Americans must not buy into such radical Leftist disinformation. It is possible to use American power to deter Iran and bolster our allies in the region. Showing weakness to a regime like that in Tehran encourages aggression. Responding with strength reduces the chances of war. The free world doesn’t have to accept genocidal Ayatollahs armed with nuclear weapons.
Why is Gabbard promoting this false choice?
Gabbard makes an outrageously oversimplified statement about Iran on her web site that shows, at best, a superficial understanding of our history with Iran.
- “The history of the United States relationship with Iran is rooted in, and defined by, a decades-long policy of regime change, which began with the CIA-led overthrow of democratically-elected Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadeq in 1953 in order to keep U.S.-backed Mohammad Reza Shah in power. This ultimately sparked the 1979 Islamic Revolution which grew from strong opposition to years of U.S. interventionist policies in Iran and throughout the region. As Iran’s new anti-U.S. government took power, our threats of intervention grew and Iran started its nuclear program as a direct response to defend against the possibility of another U.S.-led intervention and regime change plot.”
In 1953 the CIA did in fact engineer the overthrow of Mossadeq because he was a Soviet-backed communist. But it is not true that this led to the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Mossadeq was not an Islamist and the Islamists were not destined to have a role in his regime. The Islamists sought to seize power decades later on their own terms–not to install the regime that Mossadeq would have installed. The two have nothing to do with each other.
Make no mistake, the 1979 Islamic Revolution was carried out to establish an Islamic state ruled by sharia. Period. From the start the Ayatollahs were hostile to the U.S. and violated international law in invading our embassy in Teheran and taking diplomatic personnel hostage.
Iran went on to become the world’s most active state sponsor of terrorism. Successive Democrat and Republican administrations have agreed on this. Not only do the Iranians sponsor Hizbullah, an organization responsible for killing hundred of Americans, they sponsor HAMAS, a Sunni jihadist organization bent on replacing Israel with an Islamic state ruled by sharia. As mentioned previously, Iran has also helped Al Qaida.
Blaming America First
Claiming that the Iranians started their nuclear program as a result fear of U.S. intervention is false and ignores the article in the Iranian constitution that requires that the Iranians export the Islamic revolution worldwide.
In other words, the Iranians have a stated, constitutional policy of intervention.
Rather than intervening in Iran as Gabbard claims in “Blame America First” fashion, the U.S. has in fact shown incredible restraint in dealing with Iran. Consider some of the atrocities committed by Iran over the years.
Here is a partial list of what the Ayatollahs have done over the past 40 years:
- On Nov. 4, 1979, Iranian “students” stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran and held 52 hostages for 444 days until Jan. 1981.
- It is worth noting at this point that Hizbullah is essentially a branch of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. It could be regarded as an Iranian Foreign Legion.
- In April 1983, Iranian-backed Hizbullah carried out an Islamikaze bombing of the U.S. embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, killing 17 Americans.
- On Oct. 23, 1983, Iranian-backed Hizbullah carried out an Islamikaze bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks at the Beirut airport. 241 Marines, sailors and soldiers were killed in that attack.
- On April 14, 1988, the USS Samuel B. Roberts struck a mine illegally laid by Iran in the Persian Gulf, wounding 69 U.S. sailors.
- In 1996, Iran, and its Jihadist terrorist client, Hizbullah, took part in the bombing of the U.S. Khobar Towers barracks in Saudi Arabia, killing 19 U.S. service men and women and wounding 372 more.
- In June 2004, two Iranian security guards at Iran’s U.N. mission in New York were expelled after they were caught conducting reconnaissance of sensitive sites in New York.
- Back in 2010, it was revealed that two Jihadis convicted in Manhattan for terrorist conspiracy had ties to Iran. The two had plotted to bomb JFK airport.
- For those who recognize the threat from Sunni jihadists, but not Iran, they best take a closer look. Iran has a long history of supporting Sunni jihad, notably HAMAS. But even beyond HAMAS, the Wikileaks documents disclosed in 2010 direct ties between Iranian leaders and Taliban and Al Qaida leaders
- Hezbollah and Al Qaida cooperation has been documented elsewhere for some time, as detailed by the non-partisan Council on Foreign Relations.
- In November 2017, the CIA released files taken from the Osama Bin Laden raid showing evidence of ties between Iran and Al Qaida.
- Also in 2010, US Army General Ray Odierno called out Iran for the violence in Iraq.
- In 2011, U.S. law enforcement disrupted a plot involving the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. by bombing a restaurant in Washington DC. An Iranian-American was sentenced to 25 years for his role in the plot.
- In 2012, various intelligence services uncovered terrorist plots involving the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Hizbullah in countries in Europe, Asia and Africa. Some of the targets included American facilities.
- In March 2012, the head of the New York Police Department’s Intelligence Division, revealed to a Congressional panel that Iranian personnel had been caught conducting reconnaissance of New York targets at least a half dozen times since 9/11.
- In January 2016, Iran seized and held 10 U.S. Navy sailors in the Persian Gulf.
- In June 2017, two Hizbullah jihadists were arrested in Dearborn, Michigan for conducting surveillance of law enforcement and military facilities in New York and the Panama Canal. The investigation revealed a previously unknown level of Hezbollah operational activity in North America.
- In April 2018, a U.S. federal judge ordered Iran to pay $6 billion to the families of 9/11 victims for Iran’s “material support” for Al Qaida.
- In August 2018, two Iranian agents were arrested for conducting surveillance of Jewish targets in Chicago.
- In September 2018, the U.S. closed diplomatic facilities in Iraq after repeated rocket attacks and threats from Iranian-backed militias there.
- In April of this year, the Pentagon declassified a report indicating that Iran was responsible for the death of 608 U.S. GIs in Iraq during the insurgency there.
- Recently, the former head of the security police in Venezuela, who defected from the Maduro regime there, disclosed that Iran’s terrorist proxy, Hizbullah, was active in Venezuela.
- In June, German intelligence reported that Iran had actively sought weapons proliferation technology for its nuclear program during 2018—during a period in which Iran was supposed to be adhering to the infamous nuclear deal.
So, while Tulsi Gabbard portrays the Ayatollahs as victims, the fact is they are perpetrators.
Tulsi Gabbard’s statements on Iran are inaccurate at best, and could be classified as outright dishonesty.
Preventing the Ayatollahs from obtaining nuclear weapons is the most urgent national security imperative today. Should the ayatollahs become armed with nuclear weapons, future generations will ask of us: “How did they ever let it happen?”
If Tulsi Gabbard gets elected president, the answer will be obvious.
The best way to deal with an aggressive opponent is from a position of strength. This does not mean that the U.S. should march irretrievably toward war with Iran. In dealing with Iran, history has shown that weakness emboldens them. In other words, weakness increases the likelihood of war and, doubtless, the Ayatollahs would like nothing more than to see Tulsi Gabbard as president of the United States.