Jewish World Review July 24, 2003 / 24 Tamuz, 5763
Strange bedfellows are a
sure sign of rocky times
When Ayatollah Khomeini led the Islamic revolution that deposed the Shah of
Iran in 1979, the new Islamic republic's hostility toward the hedonistic West in
general and the United States in particular was clear.
Beyond Khomeini's rhetoric about the "Great Satan," the American people
were treated to 444 days of hostages held in the American Embassy, with
attendant daily protests against the United States and chants of "death to
America," all as Iranian Revolutionary Guards looked on approvingly.
Beyond its own borders, Iran supported terrorist groups such as Hezbollah that
attacked the Marine barracks in Lebanon in 1983, killing 241 American
servicemen, and was responsible for a string of murders of American citizens,
including Marine Lt. Col. Rich Higgins, who was kidnapped while serving with
United Nations forces, tortured and hanged by his Iranian-backed captors.
Hezbollah continues to be an impediment to the reconstruction of a prosperous
Lebanon, and along with Hamas which also receives Iranian support is
committed to smothering the nascent prospects for peace between Israelis
While the Iranian mullahs' antipathy toward the United States and "Western
values" has been clear from the beginning, its relationship with the communist
world and the former Soviet Union is less obvious.
In January 1989, Ayatollah Khomeini sent a delegation to Moscow with a
personal letter to former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev predicting the
collapse of communism and warning that "the basic problem of your country is
not the issue of ownership, economics or liberty. Your problem is a lack of true
faith in God, the same problem that has driven, or will drive, the West to
worthlessness and dead end."
But if, on the face of it, Khomeini and the clerical rulers of Iran claimed to be
true and uncompromising defenders of Islam, their drive to acquire nuclear
weapons and desire to confront the United States has proved them to be quite
accommodating to communists in Cuba and North Korea and their ideological
successors in the former Soviet Union.
The Iranian government, for instance, has soft-peddled Russia's brutal war
against Islamic militants in Chechnya.
The reason for this prevarication has nothing to do with Allah or the Koran, and
everything to do with access to the Russian defense establishment where
hard-line communists still hold sway and Russian nuclear technology.
While North Korea is today the world's finest exemplar of anti-religious and
anti-individualistic Stalinism, it is also one of the Islamic republic's most
convenient partners in the illicit development of weapons of mass destruction.
Some of North Korea's efforts to produce enriched uranium, as well as tests on
long-range missile engines, have been conducted in Iran. The Iranians in turn
are receiving North Korean expertise in building centrifuges for producing
enriched uranium and critical data for developing their own missiles.
The Shahab-3, which Iran successfully tested last month, has a range that
now allows the Iranian military to strike Israel as well as U.S. forces in Turkey
and Saudi Arabia.
Faced with a rising tide of demonstrations for democracy, demands for reform
and calls for the separation of mosque and state, the Iranian mullahs have
responded just as their anti-religious comrades have always done mass
arrests for crimes against the state and suppression of all forms of dissent.
In this effort, they are being assisted by communism's longest surviving relic,
Fidel Castro. The Cuban dictator is jamming U.S.-based satellite broadcasts of
television stations owned by Iranian Americans and Farsi-language Voice of
America programming, eliminating some of the most critical sources of
information for the Iranian pro-democracy movement.
Politics, of course, makes strange bedfellows. But when the leaders of one of
the world's most theocratically oppressive governments routinely align
themselves with godless communists, it's a sure sign that if the end is not
near for the Iranian mullahs, they certainly think it is, and will do anything to
take the United States and its allies down with them.
JWR contributor Jonathan Gurwitz, a columnist for the San Antonio Express-News, is a co-founder and twice served as Director General of the Future Leaders of
the Alliance program at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. In 1986 he
was placed on the Foreign Service Register of the U.S. State Department. Comment by clicking here.
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© 2003, Jonathan Gurwitz