By Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger
The term "suspension of disbelief” - coined in 1817 by the philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge – refers to a willingness to suspend one's critical faculties and believe the unbelievable; sacrificing reality, common sense, doubt and complexity on the altar of a pretend reality, convenience and oversimplification; infusing a semblance of truth into an untrue narrative.
Suspension of disbelief characterized the 1977-79 President Carter policy toward Iran, energizing Ayatollah Khomeini, ignoring or underestimating his track record and his radical, supremacist and violent worldview. The betrayal of the Shah transformed Teheran from "the US policeman in the Gulf” to the worst enemy of the US.
Currently, the suspension of disbelief undermines the US posture of deterrence and vital US national security and commercial interests. It was demonstrated by President Obama, who – irrespective of Middle East reality – referred to the brutally-intolerant, terror-driven, anti-US, anti-infidel, repressive, tumultuous Arab Tsunami as the Arab Spring "casting off the burdens of the past,” "a story of self determination,” "a democratic upheaval,” "a peaceful opposition,” "rejection of political violence” and "a transition toward (multi-sectarian, multi-ethnic) democracy.”
Suspension of disbelief, coupled with the Ayatollahs' mastery of 'Taqiyya' (Islam-sanctioned double-talk and deception), has led Secretary Kerry to assert on November 24, 2013: "Iran's Foreign Minister Zarif emphasized that they don't intend to acquire nuclear weapons, and Iran's Supreme Leader has indicated that there is a 'fatwa' [an authoritative religious ruling], which forbids them to do this.” In an April 7, 2015 NPR radio interview, President Obama made a reality-stretching assumption which underlines the Iran policy: "If in fact Iran is engaged in international business… then in many ways it makes it even harder for them to engage in behaviors that are contrary to international norms…. It is possible that if we sign this nuclear deal, we strengthen the hand of the more moderate forces in Iran….”
Rebutting Obama, Amir Taheri, a leading authority on Iran wrote: "hope is not a sufficient basis for a strategy…. [The relatively moderate former President] Rafsanjani has little chance of surviving a direct clash with [the Supreme Leader] Khamenei….” The Saudi frustration with US policy on Iran – shared by all pro-US Arab regimes – was expressed on April 25, 2015 by the opinion editor of the prestigious Saudi daily, A-Sharq Al-Awsat, which echoes the position of the House of Saud: "While the US considers the Ayatollahs a legitimate partner to negotiation, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States are in a state of war with Iran, which is the main source of chaos in the region.” The editor-in-chief of the Saudi daily added: "Has the Axis of Evil collapsed to the extent that President Obama is courting one of its key members?! Isn't this the same Teheran that has posed a clear and present danger to the Gulf States for the past 36 years?!”
The zeal to make a deal plays into the hands of the Ayatollahs and overlooks the following facts:
*An agreement is not the goal, but a tool to achieve the real goal;
*Transforming an agreement to a goal undermines the real goal;
*Details of an agreement are less critical than the details of the Ayatollahs' 36 year track record of supremacist, apocalyptic and megalomaniacal violence, martyrdom, sponsorship of global Islamic terrorism, subversion of pro-US Arab regimes, repression, anti-US hate education and policies, a systematic non-compliance with agreements and mastery of concealment;
*Such a track record warrants a "guilty until proven innocent” approach;
*Preconditioning an agreement upon a dramatic change in the conduct of the rogue, anti-US Ayatollahs would be "a poison pill” to a bad deal, but a vitamin to a good deal .
*A "bad deal” would nuclearize Iran; "no deal” would allow the US to choose the ways and means to prevent Iran's nuclearization;
*Nuclear capabilities would extend the life of the repressive, rogue Ayatollah regime, precluding any hope for civil liberties or home-induced regime change.
*An agreement – not preconditioned upon the transformation of the Ayatollahs – would compound their clear and present threat to vital US interests;
*The transformation of the nature of the Ayatollahs - as a precondition to an agreement - would prevent the nuclearization of the Ayatollahs;
*Precluding the option of military preemption has strengthened and radicalized the rogue Ayatollahs, and could lead to a nuclear war;
*Misrepresenting the option of military preemption as war defies reality, since it should be limited to surgical - no troops on the ground - air and naval bombings of critical parts of Iran's nuclear infrastructure from US bases in Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman and the Indian Ocean or aircraft carriers;
*A US military option forced Iran to end the 1980-88 war against Iraq, convinced Libya to give away its nuclear infrastructure in 2003, and led Iran to suspend its nuclear development in 2003.
*”Ironclad” supervision and intelligence failed to detect the nuclearization of the USSR, China, Pakistan, India and North Korea;
*Unlike the USSR, which was deterred by Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD), the apocalyptic Ayatollahs would be energized by MAD-driven martyrdom.
*The zeal to strike a deal has led to a US retreat from six UN Security Council Resolutions, which aimed to prevent Iran's nuclearization.
*A nuclear Iran, which celebrates "Death to America Day,” would devastate cardinal US interests: toppling the oil-producing Arab regimes (impacting supply and price of oil) and other pro-US Arab regimes; intensifying Islamic terrorism, globally and on the US mainland; agitating Latin America; collaborating with North Korea; cooperating with Russia; destabilizing Africa and Asia.
*The track record of the Ayatollahs, on the one hand, and compliance with agreements, on the other hand, constitute an oxymoron;
*Suspension of disbelief, in the case of Iran's nuclearization, entails overlooking facts that highlight the implausibility of a viable agreement with the Ayatollahs, thus damaging crucial US interests and fueling a nuclear war.