On April 1, 1979, the greatest April Fool’s joke of all time was played on the people of Iran. Ayatollah Khomeini proclaimed the “first day of God’s government,” and established himself as the grand ayatollah. The events that followed that proclamation have had a lasting effect not only in Iran, but in the entire Middle East.
The newly-crowned grand ayatollah showed the rest of his Arab brethren how to unify secular, social and religious groups in their hatred for the shah and the United States and use it as a political and military tool to overthrow the government – and he started it all while not even in the country. With the storming and capture of the U.S. Embassy on Nov. 4, 1979, he showed that the West was far from all-powerful. Suddenly, Islam became the David beginning to defeat the new Goliath of the “Great Satan” of America and “the illegitimate offspring of the Great Satan,” the nation of Israel.
When the Israeli Mossad reported to the CIA in 1978 that Shah Muhammad Reza Pahlavi’s position in power was shaky and would not hold, Jimmy Carter did the unthinkable and betrayed the shah, all in the name of human rights.
Despite the United States’ surprise, the Saudis welcomed the overthrow of the shah in more ways than one. Saudi Arabia benefited from the Iranian revolution as it cut off Iranian oil to the West. Saudi oil revenues again grew disproportionately, just as they had after the OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) embargo of 1973.
As a result, between 1982 and 2002, 1,500 mosques, 210 Islamic centers, and 2,000 Muslim schools were built in non-Muslim countries in order to promote Wahhabism. The Saudis also donated academic chairs for Islamic studies to Harvard Law School and the University of California in Berkeley, as well as grants supporting Islamic research at American University (in Washington, D.C.), Howard University, Duke University, and Johns Hopkins University.
Since 1973, Saudis have spent $87 billion to spread Wahhabism throughout the U.S. and the Western Hemisphere. Thus Khomeini provided Saudis not only with an example, but also furthered their means.
The Saudis also began to purchase arms from the United States about this time. It was in February of 1978 that Jimmy Carter informed Congress he wanted to sell 50 F-15 fighters to Saudi Arabia. Despite objections from Israel, pro-Israel lobbyists, and demonstrators marching in the streets with signs saying things such as “Hell No to the P.L.O.” and “Aid to Israel! Best Investment for America,” the sale was eventually approved.
Hezbollah (Iran’s “Party of Allah”) contributed to the rise of Islamism by creating something that eventually became known as “asymmetrical terrorist attacks.” The term asymmetrical was used because their attacks were disproportionately one-sided. These were not battles with visible soldiers on each side wearing distinguishing uniforms shooting at each other over a no-man’s land – these were sudden, surprise kamikaze attacks that were aimed to kill as many as possible with no opportunity to retaliate. There was simply no one alive at which to return fire.
Under their careful manipulation of zealous minds, a new “H” bomb – the “Human” bomb had been created – one that could be used to zero in on any target with greater precision than any of America’s smart bombs, and cost millions less – unless, of course, you want to include that loss of the life the bomb is strapped to, a cost that those who send them never consider. This demonic invention and ideology was exported to Palestine and the poor Arab masses.
I was in Beirut in October 1983 when two such attacks in the form of two truck bombs were launched against the U.S. and French troops stationed there. The explosions killed 241 U.S. military personnel and 58 French paratroopers. I remember the chaos and panic that rippled through the streets that day. The result was that the foreign troops withdrew and Lebanon was turned into a terrorist incubation center, where Christians were killed and children in day-care centers and kindergartens were taught the glory of being martyred for Allah as suicide-bombers against Israel. America had lost its first significant battle in the war on terrorism … and we didn’t even know we were at war.
It was President Jimmy Carter (known for his bent toward appeasement) who championed human rights, especially among freedom fighters (aka terrorists). Mr. Carter unlocked Pandora’s Box when he permitted the destabilization of Iran. (I personally knew the American general to whom he gave the order to overthrow the shah of Iran.) Because of the Carter policy of appeasement, the USSR responded with the invasion Afghanistan.
The United States then partnered with Saudi Arabia to fund and train “freedom fighters” to battle the Soviets in Afghanistan. The tab for that project was $10 billion – the Saudis matched the funds. Osama bin Laden was one of the American trainees in Afghanistan.
At his inauguration, Jimmy Carter chose the Scripture in Micah 6:8: “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
Perhaps had he chosen II Chronicles 7:14, as did President Ronald Reagan – “if my people who are called by my name shall … repent of their wicked ways … I will heal their land” – a spirit of repentance in America may have prevented the April Fools’ nightmare in 1979.
Today, Iran stands on the brink of another encounter with the United States or Israel because of the proliferation of facilities with nuclear capabilities. This time, the joke may well be on Iran. President Bush is being pushed inexorably toward the unenviable position of having to take out Iran’s nuclear reactors, or allowing Israel to do so. It will surely happen before April Fools’ Day 2006.