It was thirty years ago today that the Ayatollah Khomeini declared Iran to be the world’s first “Islamic Republic,” that is, the first country in human history that would be governed by Sharia law, the laws of the Qur’an. Yet as I document in my new book, Inside The Revolution, the Carter administration at the time completely missed the explosion of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, the fall of the Shah, the rise of Khomeini, and later the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran that led to 52 Americans being held hostage for 444 humiliating days.
Admiral Stansfield Turner, the director of the CIA under President Carter, would later admit in his memoirs, “We in the CIA served the president badly with respect to our coverage of the Iranian scene….We had not appreciated how shaky the Shah’s political foundation was; did not know the Shah was terminally ill; did not understand who Khomeini was and the support his movement had; did not have a clue as to who the hostage-takers were or what their objective was….We were just plain asleep.”
Thirty years later, the question is: Does the Obama administration understand who the leaders of Iran are today? Do they understand the eschatology — or End Times theology — held by the current Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and how such deeply-held religious beliefs are driving Iranian foreign policy and military doctrine? Do they understand that Iran’s current leaders believe they have been chosen by God to bring about the end of the world, that this is why they are hell-bent on acquiring or building nuclear weapons?
Last week, I met on Capitol Hill with a bipartisan group of nine current and former Members of Congress. They told me neither they nor their colleagues have been well briefed on such issues, nor has senior administration officials. Yet the President is embarking on a policy of direct contact and direct negotiations with a nation whose leaders he may not truly understand.
One leader who does understand the apocalyptic, cultish nature of Iran’s leadership is new Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “The Obama presidency has two great missions: fixing the economy, and preventing Iran from gaining nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu told The Atlantic magazine. The Iranian drive for a nuclear weapon was a “hinge of history,” he said, emphasizing that all of “Western civilization” was responsible for preventing an Iranian bomb. “You don’t want a messianic apocalyptic cult controlling atomic bombs,” Netanyahu said of the Iranian regime. “When the wide-eyed believer gets hold of the reins of power and the weapons of mass death, then the entire world should start worrying, and that is what is happening in Iran.”
It is not just Iran’s leaders that should concern us. Al Qaeda’s leaders say publicly they want to annihilate us. Top CIA officials tell me they believe bin Laden’s forces are actively seeking nuclear weapons to annihilate entire American cities. And just this morning, the London Times quotes a Pakistani Taliban leader warning: “Soon we will launch an attack in Washington that will amaze everyone in the world … The maximum they can do is martyr me. But we will exact our revenge on them from inside America.”
Please pray the Lord protects our country and gives our President and his senior advisors wisdom. Pray, too, that hte Lord gives Prime Minister Netanyahu wisdom to protect the Jewish people at this critical hour, and that the Lord would use him to explain to world leaders — including those in Washington — who the leaders of Iran really are, what they really want, and how far they are willing to go to accomplish their objectives.
Washington, I fear, is “just plain asleep” again. It is time to wake them up.