Time for the US to show Khamenei how wrong he is

Time for the US to show Khamenei how wrong he is

Centrifuge machines in the Natanz uranium enrichment facility in central Iran. (AP)
Centrifuge machines in the Natanz uranium enrichment facility in central Iran. (AP)
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The term “paper tiger” derives from an old Chinese idiom and means a “blustering, harmless fellow.” It first gained global notoriety in 1956, when Chairman Mao Zedong labeled the US a paper tiger.

Fast forward to 2022 and it is not (yet) Xi Jinping dubbing the US a paper tiger, it is Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is treating America with the utter contempt one would reserve for a toothless, harmless fellow.

At the core is the spectacle of the US’ desperation to reach a near-useless nuclear deal at 10 past midnight: Iran is already at the nuclear threshold and its satellite and ballistic missile programs continue unimpeded.

At the helm of this diplomatic fiasco is the same person who negotiated the first nuclear deal for President Barack Obama: Rob Malley. One Iranian expert put the whole thing quite elegantly into a simple tweet: “Rob Malley is like an American tourist entering the Tehran Bazaar with pockets stuffed with banknotes, shouting, ‘I’ll not leave here without a carpet!’”

Malley believes he is delivering the long-coveted compromise that will make the world a safer place. But for Tehran, compromise equals weakness. The regime has expanded its goals: Not only does the regime seek more billions in sanctions relief, but to humiliate the “Great Satan” in the homes and on the streets of the US.

This month, the US government indicted the Iranian mastermind of a series of assassination plots against a who’s who of former senior government officials, including Mike Pompeo, John Bolton, Brian Hook and Mark Esper. The indictment detailed that the would-be assassin literally stalked Bolton in the nation’s capital.

Just before this news, authorities arrested an armed suspect outside the Brooklyn, New York, residence of Iranian activist Masih Alinejad. That suspect was surveilling Alinejad’s home, not unlike the surveillance described in the Bolton indictment. The would-be killer was caught with an AK-47 just outside her door. Earlier this year, another team of terrorists was plotting to kidnap Alinejad, take her to a boat and send her to Venezuela before transferring her to Iran. What is Alinejad’s crime? She has dared to protest Iran’s mandatory hijabs for women.

Power — and the willingness to deploy it — is the only language that this nefarious Iranian regime understands

Rabbi Abraham Cooper and Rev. Johnnie Moore

Then, there was last week’s heinous attack perpetrated by a New Jersey man, who nearly killed renowned author and freedom of speech icon Salman Rushdie. Rushdie will likely lose an eye, but his 20/20 vision of the threat of violent Islamists remains intact. Days before the brutal attack, Iranian state media reissued its call to kill Rushdie. The $3.3 million bounty placed on Rushdie’s head by the ayatollah himself is funded by a subsidiary of a foundation called the Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order. That same foundation would reportedly have received sanctions relief had Iran agreed to the latest absurd offer made on behalf of the US via European interlocutors as a bribe for Iran to reenter the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Is there evidence linking these shocking developments?

Bolton, who tops the Iranian hit list, noted this week that “nearly four months passed between (Secretary of State Antony) Blinken’s public corroboration of Iran’s threat and the filing of criminal charges. The only reasonable explanation is that the president feared revealing the accusations would imperil his all-consuming goal of reviving the Iran nuclear deal.”

Bolton is right. Instead of plying Iran with diplomatic niceties at five-star hotels in Vienna, the US should be using every tool in its arsenal to deliver a clear message to the mullahs: Stop destabilizing the world.

In fact, we should not even be in Vienna while Iranian drone technology is being transferred to Moscow to aid its invasion of Ukraine or while Beijing’s oil purchases from Iran supersede totals prior to the (unenforced) sanctions. There should be no deal in Vienna while Iran builds its terrorist infrastructure in South America — as evidenced by the US Justice Department’s efforts to seize a grounded Boeing 747 affiliated with Iran’s IRGC and while Colombia’s new government holds widely publicized meetings with Iranian officials. Why make a deal in Vienna when the US Congress has to continue to appropriate funds to assist Morocco with air defense systems to protect itself from the Iranian-aligned Polisario Front or as long as the Saudis continue to be threatened by Houthi drone strikes?

And there should be no deal in Vienna with an Iran that denies the Holocaust, threatens the annihilation of Israel, promotes global antisemitism and continues to arm and fund Hezbollah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist lackeys.

If you are looking for help from the Europeans, forget it. Last year, the US State Department released a list of 360 Iranian dissidents killed in Europe by Iranian operatives. European governments, ever mindful of lucrative Iranian markets, have done next to nothing to stop the carnage.

It is up to the US alone to reestablish its dormant deterrence. Power — and the willingness to deploy it — is the only language that this nefarious regime understands. Without it, God forbid, we can expect more brazen attacks against the world’s superpower, which the ayatollah has come to believe is little more than a toothless paper tiger.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper is the associate dean and director of the Global Social Action Agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
• Rev. Johnnie Moore is president of the Congress of Christian Leaders and founder of the KAIROS Company.


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