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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

Iran and Its Response to Force – Dr. Harold Rhode

Filed under: Iran, U.S. Policy

On March 19, 2018, Dr. Harold Rhode, Islamic expert and fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, attended a conference on “Israel-Europe Relations: A New Paradigm,” organized by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

Iran has a wonderfully long and interesting history. A reason to study history is because you understand how people do what they do, why they do and how they do things, and how they respond to things. What history teaches about Iran is that it responds to force.  For example, Iran, when Jimmy Carter was president, held the American hostages for 444 days.  When exactly were they released? About 45 minutes or so before Ronald Reagan took the presidential oath of office, the Iranian government put the hostages on an airplane. The moment that Ronald Reagan raised his hand and took the oath of office is the moment that the airplane left Iranian airspace into Turkey.

The point is, they were afraid, the Iranians. Iran called Reagan a “cowboy,” and that he’d blow them up.  Now, later, under Obama, when he basically gave into every desire and every wish that they had, you saw that the Iranian Navy was attacking American ships in the Persian Gulf. Not only that – it captured American troops and an American ship and humiliated them for public consumption. In another case, an American drone was over Iran. The Iranians captured it and took it apart, and so American technology therefore became available to America’s enemies.

Since President Trump took office, things have changed radically. There have been in the beginning almost no confrontations whatsoever between the Iranian Navy and the American ships in the Gulf. Second of all, there was the reaction in just the last few days, when President Trump fired Secretary of State Tillerson, and he said publicly why he did it. Trump said that he and Tillerson disagreed on the Obama-Iranian agreements, and that Trump much preferred Mike Pompeo, who is assumed to be the former head of the CIA.  God willing, he will be confirmed as the next Secretary of State, and Pompeo’s views and Trump’s views on Iran are exactly the same. We will see what happens on May 12, but the Iranians, their reaction was utter fear to the appointment of Mike Pompeo.