Driven by a genuine desire to rid the Middle East and the globe of terrorism and war—and reflecting a long track record and ingrained worldview—Secretary of State Antony Blinken, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Special Emissary Rob Malley and CIA Director William Burns are determined to reach an agreement with Iran’s ayatollahs. They are determined to induce the Iranian leopard to change its spots, not merely its tactics.
Convinced that Iran’s rogue conduct is not driven by an inherent, fanatic, megalomaniacal vision, Blinken is bent on limiting U.S. policy towards Iran to diplomacy, while ruling out the military option and regime change.
Adhering to multilateral foreign and national security policy—rather than a unilateral, independent U.S. policy—Blinken shapes his policy on Iran by according a significant role in vacillating Europe and the pro-Iran United Nations.
The Biden regime is confident that a generous diplomatic and economic package will make the ayatollahs’ regime amenable to negotiation, peaceful coexistence and departure from their 1,400-year-old fanatic, imperialistic vision. The administration is resolved to take lightly the rogue track record of Iran’s ayatollahs since the 1978/79 revolution, which overthrew the pro-U.S. shah, catapulted the rogue ayatollahs to power and transformed Iran into “The Islamic Republic,” which considers the United States to be “The Great Satan.”
Consumed by his view of the ayatollahs as credible negotiating partners, Blinken has decided to accord his assessment of the ayatollahs’ future conduct more weight than the ayatollahs’ past conduct.
Trusting that Iran’s ayatollahs prefer to be preoccupied with butter rather than guns, Blinken’s policy on Iran is focused on diplomatic negotiation, not military confrontation.
Iran threatens the United States from Latin America
Notwithstanding the aforementioned assumptions, the ayatollahs have been systematically involved in regional and global subversion, terrorism and war, while brainwashing their population through fanatic, anti-“infidel” (Christians, Jews, Baha’is, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists, etc.) and anti-“apostate” (Sunni Muslims) school curriculum, religious sermons and public events.
For example, Iran’s ayatollahs closely collaborate with Hezbollah, the proxy of Iran’s Quds Force, which is the arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps responsible for exporting the Islamic revolution. They have intensified their surge into South and Central America, from Chile (especially with the December election of President Gabriel Boric) to Mexico. They consider Latin America to be the soft underbelly of the United States.
Iran and Hezbollah have established an elaborate regional and global infrastructure of terrorism, drug trafficking, money laundering, counterfeiting, fundraising, training, Islamic proselytizing, recruitment and media centers. They also use the region to test advanced military systems. They forged strategic alliances with anti-U.S. regimes (e.g., Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua and Bolivia), breaking their international isolation and collaborating with drug cartels and terror organizations.
Since the November 2009 visit to Venezuela by then Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran has benefitted from uranium mines in Venezuela and Bolivia.
The entrenchment of Iran and Hezbollah in Latin America has undermined the United States’ regional and global posture, intensified Iran’s global war on the United States, and established an income-generating platform to support terrorism and the development of advanced military and terror capabilities. They have spread the Shi’ite Islamic revolution and global jihad through a multitude of mosques, seminaries and “Islamic cultural centers,” and installed a support platform for sleeper cells in the United States.
The U.S.-Mexico border has been targeted by Iran and Hezbollah, with the latter being involved in kidnapping, human smuggling, extortion, as well as drug and arms trafficking. They are expanding the proliferation of drugs from Mexico to the Middle East and Europe, sharing their terrorist experience with Mexican drug cartels (e.g., car bombing, improvised explosive devices, tunneling under the U.S. border).
However, the principal safe haven for Iran and its proxy, Hezbollah, have been the lawless, corrupt and explosive tri-border areas (TBA) of Argentina-Paraguay-Brazil and Chile-Peru (the world’s largest cocaine producer)-Bolivia (the world’s third-largest cocaine producer), with their substantial population of Shi’ite Lebanese expatriates.
According to the Small Wars Journal, “There are no fewer than 145 Iranian diplomats in Bolivia, as well as a strong Iranian military presence. … Illicit activity like narcotics and human smuggling flows between the two TBAs. … With thousands of converts to Islam and counting, Hezbollah can generate cells in Latin America more rapidly with not only continual financial assistance from Iran, but with a social network operation across the region. … Iranian and Hezbollah operatives travel around the region to fundraise, launder money, train and recruit prospective sympathizers, plot against their enemies [e.g., the United States], and conduct other terrorist-related activities. … Chile’s ports are an indispensable resource as Iran is regularly taking advantage by docking its vessels … .”
The Canada-based IranWire adds that “In recent years, the TBA of Argentina-Paraguay-Brazil has become the epicenter of world cocaine trafficking and narco-terrorism… with logistic support from Colombian, Mexican and Venezuelan cartels. … Hezbollah earns about $2bn annually through illegal drug trafficking in the TBA. … Hezbollah maintains links with some of the most violent cartels in Latin America, including Mexico’s Los Zetas, Colombia’s FARC [and Oficina de Envigado] and Brazil’s PCC … helping them to obtain weapons and access to international smuggling networks outside Latin America … the most visible [Iranian media outlet] in Latin America is the 24-hour-news broadcaster HispanTV, a Spanish language arm of Islamic Republic Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) … airing in at least 16 countries … .”
The bottom line
• Reality has demonstrated that the Iranian leopard will not change its spots, but only its tactics.
• Reality has established that Iran’s ayatollahs are driven by a fanatic, religious, megalomaniacal vision, and not by despair or eagerness to be accepted internationally. Therefore, they are more concerned with guns than butter and are not amenable to credible negotiation, peaceful coexistence or the concepts of human rights and democracy. They should be dealt with militarily rather than diplomatically.
• Reality has determined that waving the military option and regime change while dealing with a rogue regime, amounts to concessions.
• The reality of vacillating Europe and the anti-U.S. United Nations suggests that subordinating America’s unilateral national security action in favor of multilateralism is the best-case scenario for Iran’s ayatollahs.
• U.S. policy on Iran should be based on the ayatollahs’ proven track record, not their subjective and speculative future track record.
Yoram Ettinger is a former ambassador and head of Second Thought: A U.S.-Israel Initiative.
This article was first published by The Ettinger Report.