Charleston, SC, June 14, 2014 – “If the Obama White House can’t see the connections among the situation in Iraq, Hamas rockets raining down on Israel and the nuclear weapons talks with Tehran, they are either blind or willfully ignoring reality. In either case it’s potentially disastrous for your country and mine.”
So began my most recent conversation with a friend who has two adult children mobilized for service in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). When I asked him to explain he said, “It’s just like in your most recent book, ‘Counterfeit Lies,’ only worse. Obama is apparently desperate to keep the Maliki government from collapsing in Baghdad – and the Iranians are willing to help. The rockets being fired into Israel from Gaza and Syria have a ‘made in Iran’ label. And Kerry is meeting right now with the ayatollahs in Vienna to conclude a ‘Permanent International Agreement’ on Iran’s nuclear program.” He finished our call: “Hopefully your NSA is recording this conversation and will send a transcript to someone in Washington who cares.”
Perhaps. But finding anyone in the Obama administration who cares about anything other than political fundraising isn’t likely. Fruit flies have a longer attention span than O-Team in Washington or the elites in our so-called mainstream media. The distraction du jour is how to blame Republicans for the ongoing humanitarian and national security disaster on our southern border. The debacle in Baghdad and what will become of the new “Islamic Caliphate” have dropped off the radar. And discourse about Tehran acquiring nuclear weapons under the umbrella of a diplomatic concord hardly compares with the “visuals” of Hamas rocket sites in Gaza being taken out by Israeli aircraft.
Unfortunately, our nation’s adversaries do know what they want – and how to achieve their ends. Vladimir Putin is extending Russian hegemony over his neighbors – as in the Ukraine. In Beijing, a new generation of “commie capitalists” are laying claim to territory and waters long recognized as belonging to the Philippines, Japan, the Republic Korea, Vietnam and Taiwan. And in Tehran, the ayatollahs remain intent on the goal established 35 years ago by “Supreme Leader” Ruholleh Khomeini: destroying the “Great Satan” and the “Little Satan” – meaning the U.S. and Israel.
Apparently few in Washington seem to recall that our destruction remains one of the pillars of the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Khomeini’s pledge has been routinely reiterated by each of his successors – and explains Tehran’s unwavering goal of acquiring nuclear weapons “by whatever means necessary.” Thus the nexus among events in Iraq, Hamas rocket attacks on Israel and the nuclear arms talks now taking place in Vienna.
According to Congressional sources, the Obama administration was either “blindsided,” during last month’s “unexpected” onslaught in Iraq by radical Sunni Islamists now calling themselves the “Islamic Caliphate” or the O-Team “ignored warnings” from U.S. intelligence services. Given the abysmal state of our HUMINT – human intelligence – capabilities, I’m inclined toward the former explanation – but it hardly matters in the short term. Washington is unlikely to rectify our abysmal “Intel-problems” either way until after the November elections at the earliest.
What’s more important immediately is that the Iranians – deeply committed to the Maliki regime in Baghdad, the Assad dynasty in Damascus and Hezbollah in Lebanon – were either surprised by events in Iraq or unable to alter the outcome. That’s crucial because all three are key to their goal of keeping pressure on Israel – the “Little Satan.”
In one of the great ironies of modern times, the brutal advance and swift capture of key terrain in Iraq by a few thousand radical Islamists initially calling themselves the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and now the “Islamic State” (IS), presents us with an extraordinary opportunity. Reports from friends on the ground in Iraq indicate IS militants have captured at least 1,500 armored HUMVEEs, 4,000 heavy machine guns, more than 50 tanks and an equal number of U.S. 155mm howitzers. One third to one-half of Maliki’s Iraqi Security Forces have deserted and IS assertions to have seized more than one-half billion in gold and currency is uncontested – as is their claim to control the land route from the Iran-Iraq border, west to Syria.
How is this an opportunity for the U.S.? Simply this: If the Maliki government collapses and is replaced by a Shiite-Sunni-Kurd coalition in Baghdad friendlier to the U.S., the Iranians lose. Tehran’s ability to support Assad in Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon depends on air and land routes over and through Iraq granted by Maliki.
The Iranians – Persians after all – are good at reading tealeaves. Tehran’s primary objective is acquiring nuclear weapons. They know the O-Team is committed to supporting Maliki – Iran’s puppet in Bagdad. The ayatollahs also know Ahmad Chalabi – once America’s friend – is trying to put together an Iraqi coalition that would unseat Tehran’s chosen leader – and worry that Maliki might cave and flee (probably to Iran).
To conclude a favorable nuclear deal in Vienna and deter the U.S. from overtly or covertly backing Chalabi – the ayatollahs have ordered their Sunni-Hamas proxies in Gaza to up the ante by firing as many Iranian-made rockets as possible into Israel – despite inevitable Palestinian casualties. Predictably, the anti-Jewish-state lobbies in the U.S. and Europe have gone into high dudgeon decrying Jerusalem’s inherent right of self-defense.
And in Vienna, Iran’s U.S. educated Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, has presented U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry with an enticing opportunity: joining Barack Obama in the “Pantheon of Nobel Laureates” by concluding a favorable “Nuclear Deal” with Tehran in exchange for Hamas stopping the rockets and help keeping Maliki in power.
Is it too much to hope the Obama-Kerry brain-trust will see this for what it is? Probably. But if Washington does any such deal with the Iranians, the end result will be a trifecta for Tehran – and a disaster for the U.S. and our ally Israel.
Oliver North is host of “War Stories” on FOX News, a nationally syndicated columnist, co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization providing college scholarships to children of U.S. military personnel killed in the line of duty, and author of the bestselling book, “Counterfeit Lies.
Image Capation: Smoke rises following an Israeli strike on Gaza, seen from the Israel Gaza border on Sunday, July 13, 2014. Israel briefly deployed ground troops inside the Gaza Strip for the first time early Sunday as its military warned northern Gaza residents to evacuate their homes, part of a widening offensive that has killed more than 160 Palestinians. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)