- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 2, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

COMMENTARY

Many elements must come together, including all source intelligence, particularly humint (human intelligence) to combat successfully radical Islamic fundamentalist terrorism.

Law enforcement is one of the contributing elements. When you are dealing with an enemy whose ultimate goal is to die as a martyr or defeat you in battle, there is not much to negotiate unless it is your total capitulation.

Obviously, this is more than just a law enforcement issue. Although some of the statements coming out of candidate Barack Obama would suggest that he would fall into the same trap as the Carter and Clinton administrations.

When the rogue Khomeini regime returned to Iran from Paris and eventually took over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in November 1979, the Carter administration had basically no intelligence on the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini or the radical fundamentalist agenda. President Carter viewed Khomeini as a religious man who had to be better than the shah of Iran, even though the shah represented the cornerstone of our Persian Gulf security policy.

The conventional wisdom then in the Carter administration was that the one institution that would survive the regime change in Iran would be the military. We could use our close relationship with the Iranian military leadership to build a new relationship with the Khomeini regime. In fact, President Carter in January 1979 sent Gen. Robert Huyser, deputy commander in chief of the United States European Command as his personal envoy to intercede with the Iranian military leadership not to interfere with the regime change. This sophomoric analysis abruptly halted when the Khomeini regime put a bullet into the back of the head of the Iranian military leadership.

At the time of our embassy takeover, our military options were somewhat limited, but we certainly had the capability to capture and hold Kharg Island, Iran’s main fuel export depot, which would have given us leverage in freeing our diplomats and retaking our embassy.

During the Reagan administration, certain key players still did not understand the extent of the radical Islamic fundamentalist agenda. Some still thought it to be more a law enforcement than a military problem. The U.S. Marine barracks bombing in Beirut Oct. 23, 1983, never had to happen. The National Security Agency (NSA) had the information almost four weeks before the attack that the Iranian Ambassador in Damascus, Ali Akbar Mohtashamipoor, acting on orders received from the Foreign Ministry, called in the leader of the Islamic Amal (which later evolved into Hezbollah) and gave him instructions to concentrate his attacks on the Multi-National Force (MNF), but to take a “spectacular” action against the U.S. Marines.

As deputy chief of naval operations, I never got to see that message until two days after the attack. By way of background, the Islamic Amal had taken over the Lebanese Army barracks above Baalbeck on Sept. 16, 1983. Had we a pro-active, pre-emptive strategy in place, the Islamic Amal could have been eliminated prior to the bombing. Of course other options could also have been implemented.

Iran has continued to wage war against the United States by using proxies for the last 29 years. Since November 1979, we have failed to attack the problem. We have let Iran continue their war against the United States with impunity. Iran proper has been a sanctuary.

Our combat forces in Iraq and Afghanistan are combating Shi’ite militia that are funded, trained and armed by Iran. Compounding the problem are the weapons and ammunitions the Chinese provide Iran that are then passed to the Shi’ite militias in Iraq and the Taliban in Afghanistan. Surface-to-air missiles (Manpads of Chinese origin), Chinese-made large-caliber sniper rifles, rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that have been so deadly to our troops have been convoyed from Iran into Iraq and to the Taliban in Afghanistan. China’s objectives are quite clear - keep the U.S. bogged down in the Middle East while they expand their objectives and influence in the Western Pacific.

The limited economic sanctions imposed by the United Nations, the European Union and the United States have not had any significant impact on changing Iran’s behavior or their drive to achieve a nuclear weapon capability. Most recently, Ali Larijani, the speaker of Iran’s parliament, warned that Iran is prepared to take drastic steps and unspecified moves that the West would regret in response to economic, political and military pressure being brought against Iran. However, one economic sanction that could convey the seriousness of the United Nations and European Union would be to deny Iranian airline access to Europe because they are unsafe and do not meet ICAO standards. Other international carriers could curtail their flights to Iran as part of this sanction.

I believe we have reached a point where the U.S. needs to make its position quite clear. We need to declare that:

• Any attack against U.S. Naval forces will be viewed as an attack against the continental United States and the full force of our military capabilities will be brought to bear.

• Unless there is an immediate cessation to train, arm and supplying various weapons, including IEDs, to Iraq Shi’ite militias and the Taliban, then those training facilities, weapon factories including the IED factory, will be subject to attack. This could be part of an all-inclusive attack to eliminate their missile and nuclear complexes.

Underpinning the above actions would be a declaration of a U.S. pro-active, pre-emptive strategy to defeat radical Islamic fundamentalist terrorism. It is based on the premise that you cannot wait until the terrorist strike. Obviously, we have to have the intelligence to prevent the cowardly act from happening.

It is unconscionable that we have tolerated a declaration of war by Iran against the United States for the last 29 years, which has given rise to the radical fundamentalist terrorism we face today. This is not the legacy we want to leave for our future generations.

James Lyons, U.S. Navy retired admiral, was commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations, and deputy chief of naval operations, where he was principal adviser on all Joint Chiefs of Staff matters.

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