At worst, he'd be John Kerry. Amir Taheri relives the not so thrilling days of yesteryear :
Just weeks after the mullahs' regime was formed , Brzezinski traveled to Morocco to meet Mehdi Bazargan, Ayatollah Khomeini's first prime minister. At the meeting, Brzezinski invited the new Iranian regime to enter into a strategic partnership with the United States. Bazargan, concerned that the Iranian left might bid for power against the still wobbly regime of the mullahs, was "ecstatic" about the American offer.
The embassy raid came just days after the Brzezinski-Bazargan meeting in Morocco and, by all accounts, took Khomeini by surprise. It is now clear that leftist groups opposed to rapprochement with the United States had inspired the raid.
Khomeini saw it as a leftist ploy to undermine his authority. He was also concerned about the possibility of the United States taking strong military and political action against his still fragile regime.
Deciding to hedge his bets, the ayatollah played a double game for several days, waiting to gauge the American reaction.
According to his late son Ahmad, who had been asked to coordinate with the embassy-raiders, the ayatollah feared "thunder and lightning" from Washington. But 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 United Nations, a certain Andrew Young, described Khomeini as "a 20th-century saint," and begged the ayatollah to show "magnanimity and 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, who preferred a minimalist style with such phrases as "we shall cut off America's hands."
As days passed, with the U.S. diplomats paraded in front of TV 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 (which was to last for 444 days, ending as Ronald Reagan entered the White House), Khomeini's view of America 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 Carter 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 United States and asked for forgiveness and magnanimity.
Once he had concluded that America would not take any meaningful action against his regime, Khomeini took over control of the hostage enterprise and used it to prop up his "anti-imperialist" credentials while outflanking the left.
The surprising show of weakness from Washington also encouraged the mullahs and the hostage-holders to come up with a fresh demand each day.
And Carter wasn't hostage to Vietnamese Communist blackmail, as Kerry would be. I doubt that Kerry would fare even this well.
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
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