Bit-by-Bit Surrender to Iran

By Reza Bayegan

 July 9, 2004


The released videotaped footage of blindfolded British soldiers captured by

the Islamic Republic was evocative of another Western humiliation in the

hands of Iranian religious fanatics. On November 4, 1979, when the militants

took over the American Embassy in Tehran, they also paraded their hand-tied,

blindfolded hostages in front of the television cameras. Today, an

analytical approach to Middle-Eastern terrorism cannot be complete without

due consideration paid to that watershed event that kept the world

transfixed for 444 days.  During that crisis the militants kept pressing

their luck to see how far they could go, and with the political school of

moral vacillation then well represented in the White House, they soon

recognized that they could go as far as they wanted to. They managed to

accomplish an outright victory for anarchy and hooliganism from which the

world has not yet recovered.


Prominent American historian J. Rufus Fears, in a lecture delivered in

Princeton on October 8, 2003, points out the dangerous consequences of the

Carter administration's mishandling of that far-reaching crisis. Answering a

question put to him by one of his listeners, Professor Rufus remarked:


In 1999, I told an audience that our failure to act decisively at the time

of the Iranian hostage controversy has left us with a bitter harvest that we

will one day reap, and I have never been so sorry to be so right.


In fact, the seizure of the United States Embassy in Tehran presented itself

as a possibility to the terrorists by a lesson they had learned from a

preceding event. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the revolution

and his fanatical supporters had the shrewdness to realize that an America

that lacked the backbone to stand by a long-time friend like the Shah, could

not muster enough resolve to stand up to ruthless terror and blackmail.


Western democracies today are harvesting the lethal fruits of their past

failure of judgment and their inability to foresee what was in store for

them with the advent of Islamic fundamentalism. Furthermore, 25 years into

the Iranian revolution with all the inherent lessons they still seem to be

unable to face up to their enemies and back up their true friends. So-called

“constructive engagement” and “creative diplomacy,” when applied to

terrorist states, can only result in further exposing every citizen of the

free world into the potential danger of being blown up or becoming a

helpless, blindfolded hostage teetering between life and death.


The British government's policy towards the Islamic Republic is not a policy

put together in the light of what the Iranian regime in reality stands for.

It is rather sketched on the basis of what Jack Straw and some others in the

Foreign Office hope one day it might evolve into. It is grounded in

self-deception, bewilderment and irresponsibility. The mullahs on the other

hand have no illusions about their enemies and their allies. Like all

well-trained, well-experienced terrorists they can immediately sense the

moral confusion and intellectual perplexity of their victims and use it to

their greatest political advantage. They are toying with Jack Straw the same

way they manipulated the weakness and confusion of the Carter



Having successfully flexed their muscles in the Arvand Rood waterway (Shatt

al-Arab in Arabic) by seizing the British vessel, the mullahs know full well

that they face no retaliation. They are complacent in their assurance that

all the dismay expressed by London over the abduction of their sailors will

amount to nothing and is a mere face- saving exercise. As The Guardian

reported in its July 2 issue, the Foreign Office is unlikely to consider a

drastic response “since it cherishes its diplomatic links with Tehran.”


Accordingly the British government has adopted the same cringing,

guilt-ridden, apologetic attitude as that of the Clinton administration

(remember Madeleine Albright's apology to Iran for “past American errors”).

Jack Straw is banking on what he calls “bit-by-bit, progress” in relations

between Iran and the United Kingdom. In fact, what we witness seems

increasingly like bit-by-bit surrender to the Islamic Republic of Iran

rather than a clearly thought out and integrated foreign policy.


The British unwillingness to stand up to the regime in Tehran is partly due

to what is taking place at the moment in Iraq. The war waged against Saddam

Hussein with its obvious benefit of ridding the world of a cruel dictator

has incurred huge human and material loss. The mullahs, instead of waiting

for their turn to become the next dispatched member of the Axis of Evil,

have been fighting the war for their survival on Iraqi soil by supporting

the terrorists and sabotaging the establishment of democracy in that

country. Their diabolical efforts have paid off. Fatigued both militarily

and economically by the war in Iraq, the United States would have great

difficulty in commencing a war on a new front.


This allied exhaustion has offered the clerical dictatorship a new lease on

life, which the mullahs are using to push forward with their plan to acquire

of nuclear weapons. On June 27, 2004 – in defiance of the International

Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) – the Iranian government decided to resume

centrifuge construction. It is only a (brief) matter of time before the most

dangerous regime on earth will be armed with the most destructive means to

destroy human life. If such a nightmare is realized, Jack Straw's

“bit-by-bit, progress” with Iran can only mean inching toward Hell on earth.