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How 'Death to America' was born

When Americans go to the polls next Tuesday they would do well to remember two events that have altered their lives forever.

The first was the raid on the United States' embassy in Teheran, and the seizure of American hostages on November 4, 1979. The second was the September 11, 2001 attacks against New York and Washington.

The embassy seizure showed that Americans were no longer safe outside their homeland and that even diplomatic immunity would not protect them. The 9/11 attacks showed that the Americans were no longer safe even in their own homeland, and that no amount of military clout could protect them against enemies that recognize no bounds.

In a sense the 1979 attack on the US embassy in Teheran could be regarded as the opening scene of a drama that reached its catharsis on September 11, 2001.

Here is why.

The 1979 embassy attack came at a time that the administration of president Jimmy Carter was trying to prop up the new Khomeinist regime in Teheran.

When the Islamic revolution started in Iran, the Carter administration saw it as the confirmation of its assumption that only Islamists had enough popular support to provide an alternative to both the existing despotic regimes and the pro-Soviet leftist movements.

The Carter administration went out of its way to court the new regime in Teheran. A ban imposed on the sale of arms and materiel to Iran, imposed in 1978, was lifted, and a US presidential finding, signed by President Eisenhower in 1954, was dusted up to reaffirm Washington's commitment to defending Iran against Soviet or other threats.
Just weeks after the mullahs' regime was formed, national security advisor Zbigniew Bzerzinski traveled to Morocco to meet Mehdi Bazargan, Ayatollah Khomeini's first prime minister. At the meeting, Bzrezinski invited the new Iranian regime to enter into a strategic partnership with the United States.

The embassy raid came two days after the Bzrezinski-Bazargan meeting in Morocco and, by all accounts, took Khomeini by surprise. It is now clear that leftist groups opposed to rapprochement with the US had inspired the raid.

Khomeini saw the incident as a leftist ploy to undermine his authority and was concerned about the possibility of the US taking military action against his still fragile regime. According to his late son Ahmad, who had been asked to coordinate with the embassy-raiders, the ayatollah feared "thunder and lightening" from Washington.

What came, instead, was a series of bland statements by Carter and his aides pleading for the release of the hostages on humanitarian grounds. Carter's envoy to the UN, Andrew Young, described Khomeini as "a Twentieth Century saint," and begged the ayatollah to show "compassion."
Carter went further by sending a letter to Khomeini. Written in longhand, it was an appeal from "one believer to a man of God."

Carter's syrupy prose must have amused Khomeini.
As days passed, with the American diplomats paraded in front of television cameras blindfolded and threatened with execution, it became increasingly clear that there would be no "thunder and lightning" from Washington. By the end of the first week of the drama, that was to last for 444 days and ended the day Ronald Reagan entered the White House, Khomeini's view of the United States had changed.

Ahmad Khomeini's memoirs echo the surprise that his father, the ayatollah, showed, as the Carter administration behaved "like a headless chicken."
What especially surprised Khomeini was that Cater and his aides, notably secretary of state Cyrus Vance, rather than condemning the seizure and the treatment of the hostages as a barbarous act, appeared apologetic for unspecified mistakes supposedly committed by the US and asked for forgiveness and magnanimity.

Matters became worse when a military mission sent by Carter to rescue the hostages ended in tragedy in the Iranian desert. The A-Team dispatched by Carter fled under the cover of night, leaving behind the charred bodies of eight of their comrades.

The Carter administration was plunged into internal feuds as Vance resigned in protest against the attempt to rescue the hostages.
It was then that Khomeini coined his notorious phrase "America cannot do a damn thing."

He ordered that the slogan "Death to America" be inscribed in all official buildings and vehicles. The star-spangled banner was to be painted at the entrance of airports, railway stations, ministries, factories, schools, hotels and bazaars so that the faithful could trample it under feet every day.

The slogan "America cannot do a damn thing" became the basis of strategies worked out by Islamist terrorists, including those that, for doctrinal or political reasons, opposed Khomeini.

That slogan was tested and proved right for two decades. Between November 4, 1979 and September 11, 2001 a total of 671 American hostages were seized and held as hostages for varying lengths of time in several Muslim countries.

Almost a thousand Americans were killed, including 241 Marines who were blown up while asleep in Beirut in 1983. For 22 years the United States, under presidents from both parties, behaved in exactly the way that Khomeini had predicted. It took countless successive blows, including the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York, without decisive retaliation.

That attitude invited, indeed encouraged, more attacks. The 9/11 tragedy was the inevitable denouement of the November 4 attack on the US embassy in Teheran.

The writer, an Iranian author and journalist, is editor of the Paris-based Politique Internationale.

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this is why bush must win the next election. Regardless of wether iraq was correct or not, any action in this war is better then none.
Inhumanity
Its uncanny how Russian can draw such brainless and clueless conclusions from this editorial.

By all means, make George II the life-time king of America and watch the Middle East burn. How many arabs are there? 400 million? 600 million? When the all have blown themselves to bits in Jihad against the Americans you can atleast say that "Well, atleast we did something".

Failings of Carter tell absolutely nothing of Kerry's or Bush's or anybody elses ability to handle terrorism.

I'd also like to know how the author of this editorial explains the terror in Iraq? After all, its a case where America has acted tough yet it has "amazingly" only increased terror. I suppose the author is part of that lot who believes that capitol punishment deters crime.
Russian
if you want brainless look in the mirror.


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Its uncanny how Russian can draw such brainless and clueless conclusions from this editorial.


opinion peice. I didnt draw a conclusion i am simply showing what happend the last time the USA did nothing in relation to islamifascists.

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By all means, make George II the life-time king of America


you accuse me of being braindead then post this.

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How many arabs are there? 400 million? 600 million? When the all have blown themselves to bits in Jihad against the Americans you can atleast say that "Well, atleast we did something".


you should have quit while you where ahead. Youre only providing people with material to laugh at you.

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Failings of Carter tell absolutely nothing of Kerry's or Bush's or anybody elses ability to handle terrorism.


nor should they. Had youre IQ been higher then 15 you would realize this isnt about the men, but rather the strategy.

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also like to know how the author of this editorial explains the terror in Iraq?


Simple logical conclusion. The insurgents believe they can win. They feel america wont do a damn thing. Sure they can invade countries smash tanks but onces you draw them into a battle of attrition they will run away. Prove this wrong and you win.


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America has acted tough yet it has "amazingly" only increased terror


or trapped thousands of terrorists inside a undefendable city to be pounded from the air.

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I suppose the author is part of that lot who believes that capitol punishment deters crime.


relevence? In youre psychotic little mind perhaps theres a logical connection.
Inhumanity
Russian, I have one word for you: sarcasm. Look it up. It's in the dictionary between russian and stupid.

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this isnt about the men, but rather the strategy.


And if you knew anything about history you'd understand that Carters personality very much defined his strategy.

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Simple logical conclusion. The insurgents believe they can win. They feel america wont do a damn thing.


Yet you contradict yourself in the next reply by indirectly ackonowledging that US has been acting tough in Iraq. Which is it?

But you're right: the terrorists do believe they will win. Not because of the reason you stated though. They feel that once they send enough americans back home in a casket US will withdraw. Then they will concentrate on US puppet government in Baghdad. They're islamic extremists - they think God is on their side and they cant loose. Just like George Bush. Well, atleast Bush has some muscle behind that argument.

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or trapped thousands of terrorists inside a undefendable city to be pounded from the air.


And this has exactly what relevance to the increase in terror?

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relevence?


The relevance is that the author thinks acting tough will deter terrorism - just like advocates of capitol punishment think it will deter crime. They're both wrong.

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In youre psychotic little mind perhaps theres a logical connection.


You're just hurling insults at random, eh? Not even bothered to find appropriate expressions connected to whatever faux pas I may've committed in your opinion?
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