The Obama administration has lost no time extending an outstretched hand to Iran's terrorist regime, just as promised during the election campaign. The president assured the mullahs of his pacific intentions in a January 2009 interview on al-Arabiya TV, asking nothing more than that Iran unclench its fist.
Secretary of State Clinton echoed Obama after an early February 2009 meeting with British Foreign Secretary David Miliband. Absent from either of their comments was any mention of Tehran's obligations before the world community to comply with United Nations resolutions to immediately and verifiably suspend all nuclear enrichment activity. Also missing was any criticism of Iran's massive support for terrorist organizations such as Hamas, Hizballah, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad -- not to mention its long-standing affiliation with al-Qa'eda.
As for introduction of a U.N. resolution to condemn Iran for repeated incitement to genocide of a fellow U.N. member state -- the State of Israel -- somehow that didn't come up either. Holding to account a regime that stones girls to death for being raped, hangs gays from construction cranes, and executes juveniles also doesn't seem central to the new agenda. Perhaps we missed it and the United States actually signed on to the Cairo Declaration. For those who don't remember that ignominious piece of paper, it is the 1990 opt-out by Muslim states from the U.N. Declaration on Human Rights.
An 8 February 2009 speech by Vice President Joe Biden (in Munich, of all places) did note U.S. readiness to take pre-emptive action against Iran if it does not abandon its nuclear ambitions and support for terrorism, but also repeated that the U.S. is open to talks. This is what your mother always warned you against: mixed signals.
Under the Bush administration we had no Iran policy. Now, our policy leans too close to appeasement. How did it get this way?
America's foreign policy toward Iran did not reach this level of malleability overnight or by accident. A well-organized plan to infiltrate and influence U.S. policymakers at the highest levels has been operating on American soil for well over a decade. Conceived in Tehran under the direct authority of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the plan set out to create a network of top U.S. academics, diplomats, journalists, NGOs, and think tanks that would advocate a policy of appeasement towards Iran. Iran's top strategic objective has always been to buy time for its nuclear weapons program, which now is well along in developing the three critical components: enriched uranium, warhead weaponization, and a credible missile delivery system.
Beginning in the late 1990s, a de facto alliance between Muslim Brotherhood fronts in the U.S. (such as CAIR -- the Council on Islamic American Relations) and frank Tehran regime advocates like the American-Iranian Council (AIC) openly began to promote public support for a U.S. foreign policy based on the favored positions of the Islamic Republic. In 2002, a new pro-Iran group was formed by a young Swedish-Iranian immigrant named Trita Parsi. That group, the National Iranian-American Council (NIAC) quickly established itself as the nexus of a growing network of individuals and organizations that openly lobby for a U.S. policy of acquiescence, diplomacy, incentives, and negotiations with the Tehran regime -- while strongly opposing coercive diplomacy, sanctions, or threat of military action. Part and parcel of this advocacy on behalf of Tehran is a pattern of antipathy towards Israel that minimizes its security concerns and dismisses its legitimate defense needs.
Under Parsi, who is closely connected to the Tehran regime, the NIAC network has expanded to include a growing number of new groups. Some of them -- such as The Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran (CASMII) -- are NIAC clones. CASMII was founded in December 2005 to oppose all forms of pressure on Iran. Others, such as the Center for a New American Security (CNAS, founded in February 2007) play the role of useful idiots. CNAS had Dr. Susan Rice, the Obama administration's appointee as Ambassador to the UN, on its Board of Directors.
Dr. Vali Nasr, who has been named senior advisor to U.S. Afghanistan/Pakistan envoy Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, was one of the authors of a September 2008 CNAS publication called Iran: Assessing U.S. Strategic Options. Nasr's chapter, "The Implications of Military Confrontation with Iran," urged the U.S. to take the military option for dealing with Iran off the table and instead focus on how best to accommodate Tehran's rising power in the Middle East region. The Campaign for a New American Policy on Iran (CNAPI) launched its pro-Iran activities with a cross-country event called The Folly of Attacking Iran Tour, which crisscrossed the U.S. in February and March 2008.
The American Foreign Policy Project (AFPP) was founded in December 2008 with an "experts list" that reads like a remix of other CAIR and NIAC affiliates, including former Ambassadors Thomas Pickering, James Dobbins, and William Miller plus well-known academic figures such as Professors Gary G. Sick of Columbia University and Juan R. Cole of the University of Michigan. These groups' interlocking Boards of Advisors, Directors, and Experts include many other nationally-known figures from public policy and international business arenas, including some big oil companies.
All are associated in one way or another with Trita Parsi and NIAC and all advocate a policy of accommodation with Iran.
The Iranian regime makes no attempt to disguise its links to this network. NIAC, for instance, was openly mentioned in the 7 December 2007 issue of the government-controlled Aftab News, where the NIAC network was called the regime's "Iran lobby in the U.S." In March 2007, the Fars News daily described NIAC as 'a non-profit' organization with headquarters in Washington, D.C. that was established to counter the influence of AIPAC [the American-Israeli Political Action Committee, a legal lobby group] and to enlist the support of Iranian expatriates living in the U.S. in order to 'penetrate U.S. politics.'
Maneuvering behind Washington, D.C. policymaking scenes to exert influence on U.S. decision makers is pretty standard for a host of legitimate interest groups, including many foreign countries. Concern is indicated, however, when the guiding influence behind such maneuvering emanates from the top levels of a regime like Iran's that holds top spot on the Department of State's state sponsors of terror list, makes no secret of its hatred and enmity for the U.S. and our ally Israel, and acts in myriad ways to support those who have assassinated, held, kidnapped, killed, and tortured American civilians and military over a 30-year period. The expanding influence of this pro-Iran lobby on U.S. foreign policy attests to a determined and sophisticated operation that serves only the interests of regime implacably hostile to America's own national security interests.