Are Iran's leaders crazy?...
Here is a detailed chronology of the events leading up to the arrests that foiled the plot. One casualty of the planned bombing, National Journal reports, is the "rational actor" theory of containing Iranian aggression; a top Iran terror master has been linked to the plot. Caroline Glick sees Team Obama doing nothing to seriously penalize Iran, while liberal columnist Richard Cohen sees Iran acting naturally, and thus not to be allowed nuclear weapons.
Iran expert Reuel Marc Gerecht sees Iran's regime becoming more dangerous, and calls for military action, blaming Supreme Guide Ali Khamenei as the plot's likely originator:
Many in Washington and Europe would like to believe that the assassination plot in Washington came from a "faction" within the Iranian government—that is, that Khamenei didn't order the killing and Washington should therefore be cautious in its response. But neither this analysis nor the policy recommendation is compelling.
Lord help Qasim Soleimani—the man who likely has control over the Revolutionary Guards' elite dark-arts Qods Force, which apparently orchestrated this assassination scheme—if he didn't clear the operation with Khamenei. He will lose his job and perhaps his life. For 20 years, Khamenei has been constructing a political system that is now more submissive to him than revolutionary Iran was to Khomeini.
And for 20 years the U.S. has sent mixed messages to the supreme leader. Under both Democratic and Republican presidents, the U.S. has tried to reach out to Iran, to engage it in dialogue that would lead away from confrontation. For Khamenei such attempts at engagement have been poisonous, feeding his profound fear of a Western cultural invasion and the destruction of Islamic values.
This deeply offensive message of peace has alternated with American-led wars against Iraq and Afghanistan. These wars spooked Tehran, radiating American strength for a time, but such visions ebbed.
Khamenei probably approved a strike in Washington because he no longer fears American military might. Iran's advancing nuclear-weapons program has undoubtedly fortified his spine, as American presidents have called it "unacceptable" yet done nothing about it. And neither George W. Bush nor Barack Obama retaliated against Iran's murderous missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Gerecht warns that failure to treat Iran's provocation as a casus belli invites greater harm later. Another expert on Iran rejects the assertion by some that factional splits underlay the plot:
Though the Pentagon clearly sees the Qods Force as an integral part of the Iranian regime, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder yesterday suggested that "factions of the Iranian government" had directed the plot. U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein said in a statement that "we must learn how high in the Iranian government this alleged conspiracy reaches." She is right to be prudent, but the Qods Force are no more independent in their actions than the Navy SEALs would be in theirs.
To doubt the Iranian regime's responsibility in the thwarted attack is to misunderstand its nature, or to somehow fall prey to the delusion that when an Iranian connection appears behind a terror plot, its perpetrators have gone rogue or are acting on behalf of some dark faction to undermine a nonexistent "moderate" camp within the regime. Of course, the Qods Force is rogue, but no more so than the regime that directs its actions. Moreover, all members of the Iranian government are fundamentalists. The differences between them are tactical, and the only question about the thwarted plot in Washington is why the regime chose to escalate matters now—not whether the regime was behind it.
AEI defense maven Thomas Donnelly explains the connections between the Mexican Zeta drug cartel & Iran's Quds force (part of the Iran Revolutionary Guard, which controls key industries). Bret Stephens sees growing Iran links in Central & South America. One myth those opposing tough action subscribe to is that because those clever Persians play chess they'd never hatch a crazy plot like this:
The Iranians, this perverse notion holds, are too “smart” to get tied up in a keystone cops scenario managed by a clumsy oaf with a prison record like Arbabsiar, a dual U.S.-Iranian national. Yet the belief that losers don’t run terrorist operations tends to ignore the evidence that those who employ terror as a political tool are by and large not the most clever or interesting people. And that belief is also based on a quasi-Orientalist fantasy that Iran’s leaders are way too skillful to get caught red-handed. After all, the Persians invented chess; as a culture of carpet weavers, they are the very exemplum of subtlety and patience, etc. And so, says one former U.S. intelligence official, Iran’s past terror projects “were very professional operations that used cutouts and had few Iranian fingerprints.”
Yet Iranian fingerprints were all over the arms shipments that the Israelis interdicted in 2002 when they stopped the Karine A from reaching Gaza, and in 2009 when they boarded the Syria and Hezbollah-bound Francorp. Most recently, it was the Turks who stopped passage of a plane loaded with Iranian weapons destined for Tehran’s allies. How “subtle” is that?
It is more accurate to say that many, including American intelligence officials, have tended to ignore the plentiful evidence of Iran’s handiwork. Happily, the authorities in Azerbaijan knew with whom they were dealing in 2008 when they captured Iranian and Hezbollah operatives before they were able to bomb the Israeli embassy in Baku. Same with the Turks and Egyptians, who in 2008 and 2009 rolled up Iranian and Hezbollah assets before they were able to avenge the assassination of Hezbollah’s liaison with the Quds Force, Imad Mugniyah.
Indeed the myth of the Islamic Republic’s genius has even lent its glow to Tehran’s allies, none more than Hezbollah. And yet over the span of some 30 years Iran has pumped billions of dollars into an organization now led by a man, Hassan Nasrallah, whose claims of a “divine victory” over Israel are belied by the fact that in the 2006 war Hezbollah lost perhaps a quarter of its frontline fighters, while the Shia community suffered so much damage that it fears nothing more than the prospect of another “divine victory.” Furthermore, by banking on Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, the Iranians are on the verge not only of losing their one Arab state ally, but also forfeiting Hezbollah’s supply line. Elsewhere in the region, the Iranians handed off a significant portion of their Iraq portfolio to Moktada al-Sadr, a man who has not served their interests well.
US diplomats believe a WikiLeaks cable offered one motive for Iran's DC plot. In the April 20, 2008 cable from Riyadh to a top US official, was the following statement attributed therein (by Saudi Arabia's Ambassador to the US) to the Saudi King, Abdullah: “He told you to cut off the head of the snake.” Translation: bomb Iran's nuclear facilities.
President Obama's diplomats are pushing for disclosure of the latest UN information on Iran's nuclear program, the Gray Lady reports:
The decision to press the International Atomic Energy Agency was brewing even before the plot against the Saudi ambassador was discovered, but that discovery prompted the White House to pursue a full-court, public press of the agency to release the sensitive intelligence.
Officials familiar with the evidence say it creates extraordinarily uncomfortable questions for the Iranians to answer, but does not definitively point to the construction of a weapon. Instead, it details work on individual technologies essential for designing and detonating a nuclear device, including how to turn uranium into bomb fuel, how to cast conventional explosives in a shape that can set off a nuclear blast, and how to make detonators, generate neutrons to spur a chain reaction, measure detonation waves and make nose cones for missiles.
Tommy Vietor, the spokesman for the National Security Council, said Saturday that “the United States believes that a comprehensive assessment would be invaluable for the international community in its consideration of Iran’s nuclear program and what to do about it.” Iran has declared that all of the documents suggesting work on how to create a weapon that could fit atop an Iranian missile are “fabrications” intended to justify an attack. The country has been the target of covert attacks, including the assassinations of some nuclear scientists and a computer worm that disabled some of Iran’s nuclear centrifuges.
Iran is producing more uranium than needed to fuel its 20 percent enriched uranium "medical research" reactor; at 20 percent enrichment Iran has completed 97 percent of the isotope separation needed to make fuel for weapons-grade bombs. One piece of good news: experts are convinced Iran's program continues to suffer technical setbacks in its drive to enrich uranium to weapons-grade level.
Bottom Line. Iran marches on, and will grow bolder as its nuclear program progresses, and with each failure of the US to confront Iran with forceful action. Sanctions alone are not enough. In 1982 Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan warned, during the debate on what to do after Russia imposed martial law on Poland to quell Lech Walesa's labor movement, that our response must not be weak: "We court great danger when we invite the contempt of totalitarians."
Letter from the Capitol, LFTC, Terrorism, Homeland Security, National Security, UN, Conservative Politics