We just don't get it. The Left in America is screaming to high heaven that the mess we are in in Iraq and the war on terrorism has been caused by the right-wing and that George W. Bush, the so-called "dim-witted cowboy," has created the entire mess. The truth is the entire nightmare can be traced back to the liberal democratic policies of the leftist Jimmy Carter, who created a firestorm that destabilized our greatest ally in the Muslim world, the shah of Iran, in favor of a religious fanatic, the ayatollah Khomeini. Carter viewed Khomeini as more of a religious holy man in a grassroots revolution than a founding father of modern terrorism. Carter's ambassador to the UN, Andrew Young, said "Khomeini will eventually be hailed as a saint." Carter's Iranian ambassador, William Sullivan, said, "Khomeini is a Gandhi-like figure." Carter adviser James Bill proclaimed in a Newsweek interview on February 12, 1979 that Khomeini was not a mad mujahid, but a man of "impeccable integrity and honesty." The shah was terrified of Carter. He told his personal confidant, "Who knows what sort of calamity he [Carter] may unleash on the world?"
JPost BlogCentral: A personal note from Carter
Let's look at the results of Carter's misguided liberal policies: the Islamic Revolution in Iran; the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (Carter's response was to boycott the 1980 Moscow Olympics); the birth of Osama bin Laden's terrorist organization; the Iran-Iraq War, which cost the lives of millions dead and wounded; and yes, the present war on terrorism and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
WHEN CARTER entered the political fray in 1976, America was still riding the liberal wave of anti-Vietnam War emotion. Carter asked for an in-depth report on Iran even before he assumed the reins of government and was persuaded that the shah was not fit to rule Iran. 1976 was a banner year for pacifism: Carter was elected president, Bill Clinton became attorney-general of Arkansas, and Albert Gore won a place in the Tennessee House of Representatives.
In his anti-war pacifism, Carter never got it that Khomeini, a cleric exiled to Najaf in Iraq from 1965-1978, was preparing Iran for revolution. Proclaiming "the West killed God and wants us to bury him," Khomeini's weapon of choice was not the sword but the media. Using tape cassettes smuggled by Iranian pilgrims returning from the holy city of Najaf, he fueled disdain for what he called gharbzadegi ("the plague of Western culture").
Carter pressured the shah to make what he termed human rights concessions by releasing political prisoners and relaxing press censorship. Khomeini could never have succeeded without Carter. The Islamic Revolution would have been stillborn.
Gen. Robert Huyser, Carter's military liaison to Iran, once told me in tears: "The president could have publicly condemned Khomeini and even kidnapped him and then bartered for an exchange with the [American Embassy] hostages, but the president was indignant. 'One cannot do that to a holy man,' he said."
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has donned the mantle of Ayatollah Khomeini, taken up bin Laden's call, and is fostering an Islamic apocalyptic revolution in Iraq with the intent of taking over the Middle East and the world.
Jimmy Carter became the poster boy for the ideological revolution of the 1960s in the West, hell bent on killing the soul of America. The bottom line: Carter believed then and still does now is that evil really does not exist; people are basically good; America should embrace the perpetrators and castigate the victims.
IN THE '60S it was mass rebellion after the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King. When humanity confronts eternity, the response is always rebellion or repentance. The same ideologues who fought to destroy the soul of America with the "God is dead" movement in the 1960s are now running the arts, the universities, the media, the State Department, Congress, and Senate, determined more then ever to kill the soul of America while the East attempts to kill the body. Carter's world view defines the core ideology of the Democratic Party.
What is going on in Iraq is no mystery to those of us who have had our fingers on the pulse of both Iran and Iraq for decades. The Iran-Iraq war was a war of ideologies. Saddam Hussein saw himself as an Arab leader who would defeat the non-Arab Persians. Khomeini saw it as an opportunity to export his Islamic Revolution across the borders to the Shi'ites in Iraq and then beyond to the Arab countries.
Throughout the war both leaders did everything possible to incite the inhabitants of each country to rebel - precisely what Iran is doing in Iraq today. Khomeini encouraged the Shi'ites across the border to remove Saddam from power and establish an Islamic republic like in Iran.
Carter's belief that every crisis can be resolved with diplomacy - and nothing but diplomacy - now permeates the Democratic Party. Unfortunately, Carter is wrong.
There are times when evil must be openly confronted and defeated.
KHOMEINI HAD the help of the PLO in Iran. They supplied weapons and terrorists to murder Iranians and incite mobs in the streets. No wonder Yasser Arafat was hailed as a friend of Khomeini after he seized control of Iran and was given the Israeli Embassy in Teheran with the PLO flag flying overhead.
The Carter administration scrambled to assure the new regime that the United States would maintain diplomatic ties with Iran. But on April 1, 1979 the greatest April Fools' joke of all time was played, as Khomeini proclaimed it the first day of the government of God.
In February 1979 Khomeini had boarded an Air France flight to return to Teheran with the blessing of Jimmy Carter. The moment he arrived, he proclaimed: "I will kick his teeth in" - referring to then prime minister Shapour Bakhtiar, who was left in power with a US pledge of support. He was assassinated in Paris by Iranian agents in 1991.
I sat in the home of Gen. Huyser, who told me the shah feared he would lose the country if he implemented Carter's polices. Carter had no desire to see the shah remain in power. He really believed that a cleric - whose Islamist fanaticism he did not understand in the least - would be better for human rights and Iran.
He could have changed history by condemning Khomeini and getting the support of our allies to keep him out of Iran.
The writer is a New York Times best-selling author. His newest book is The Final Move Beyond Iraq. www.beyondiraq.com