Big Dupes: Carter and Obama, Egypt and Iran

This is the most recent installment of exclusive interviews with Dr. Paul Kengor, professor of political science at Grove City College, on his book revealing how communists, from Moscow to New York to Chicago, have long manipulated America’s liberals/progressives. Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century is based on an unprecedented volume of declassified materials from Soviet archives, FBI files, and more. Big Peace’s Peter Schweizer calls it the “21st century equivalent” to Whittaker Chambers’ classic Witness.

Big Peace: Professor Kengor, former President Jimmy Carter told a student audience in Austin, Texas that he believes President Obama handled the situation in Egypt properly, and that he would have handled the situation the same way.

Kengor: That’s the kiss of death. If I was Obama, I would now doubt everything I’ve done in Egypt.

Carter also said, “I think that the Muslim Brotherhood is not anything to be afraid of,” predicting, “They will be subsumed in the overwhelming demonstration of desire for freedom and democracy.” Carter added that he had met members of the Muslim Brotherhood during his time in Egypt, and believes only about 15 percent of Egyptians would vote for the Brotherhood.

This is very similar to his past appraisals of groups like Hamas, of dictators like Kim Il Sung, Castro, and on and on. You do not want to take foreign-policy advice from this man.

Big Peace: Give us some deeper historical context. We last talked about President Ronald Reagan. How might Reagan have reacted to events in Egypt, especially compared to Carter and Obama?

Kengor: We know this much: Reagan wouldn’t want to lose a moderate autocrat like Hosni Mubarak to a group like the Muslim Brotherhood. He’d be very fearful of the Muslim Brotherhood. Reagan would want Muslim democrats, not Muslim theocrats. He would be seeking a Lech Walesa and a Solidarity movement, not the Ayatollah and the mullahs.

Big Peace: This was a lesson Reagan learned painfully from the Carter years.

Kengor: Yes. He would not want another Shah-type replaced by another Ayatollah-type. Even as Reagan was the eternal optimist, he would be extremely pessimistic about Egypt because of the strength of the Muslim Brotherhood, who he would not perceive as freedom fighters.

Big Peace: Of course, Reagan was left with the Ayatollah because the Ayatollah replaced the Shah under Reagan’s predecessor, Jimmy Carter. Give us a glimpse of Carter’s reaction to that leadership transfer in Iran.

Kengor: It was a foreign-policy catastrophe. The Shah’s fall meant an immediate radical Islamic takeover of Iran, not to mention over 50 Americans seized as hostages. Here’s something that 99% of people under the age of 40 don’t know, and need to pause to let sink in: America suddenly went from being Iran’s best friend to Iran’s “Great Satan.” Iran and Israel were our pillars in the Middle East. Iran was our best friend in the Muslim world. Think about that. It wasn’t like the Ayatollah took over a pariah country with which we had few ties. Richard Nixon said that whatever the Shah wanted, the Shah got. We were extremely close. That was all lost under Carter. It was a total 180 in one presidential term.

Big Peace: In Dupes, you list Carter’s statements on Iran.

Kengor: I’ll share the two that pose the starkest contrast, pulled from the official Presidential Papers. The best starting point is December 31, 1977, when President Carter stood aside the Shah, raised his glass, and gave a toast: “Iran, because of the great leadership of the Shah, is an island of stability in one of the more troubled areas of the world.”

Iran had been just that, under successive presidential administrations–but not much longer. One year later, that island of stability erupted into a volcano, one named the Ayatollah Khomeini, a fanatical Shiite cleric.

Big Peace: You write that the “unthinkable” soon became “somehow thinkable.”

Kengor: Things collapsed so fast that, on December 7, 1978, a reporter asked President Carter if he thought the Shah “could survive.” That question was inconceivable just a year earlier. Previous presidents would have immediately responded in the affirmative, with an unequivocal statement that went something like: “You damn well bet the Shah will survive. He has America’s complete, unwavering, unhesitating support. He remains a great friend.”

Instead, President Carter offered this infamous response:

I don’t know. I hope so. This is something that is in the hands of the people of Iran. We have never had any intention and don’t have any intention of trying to intercede in the internal political affairs of Iran…. We personally prefer that the Shah maintain a major role in the government, but that’s a decision for the Iranian people to make.

Consider those words carefully, as did every Iranian. Carter told Iranians, including the theocrats, that the situation was in their hands, and that America, alas, no longer had any intention to intervene to preserve the Shah. You can’t begin to imagine the significance–the green light–of that statement.

Big Peace: You call this a “sea change” in American policy toward Iran.

Kengor: Even that isn’t sufficient. This was the kind of statement where you just sit and stare at your TV, shaking your head in speechless disbelief. Carter casually delivered a jaw-dropper, a game changer. And no one was as surprised as the Iranian extremists, who read Carter’s words–properly so–as a sign that Uncle Sam would not, this time around, save the Shah. It was party time for the Shiite revolution.

Big Peace: Within only weeks of that Carter statement, by February 1979, the Shah was gone, the Ayatollah was in–

Kengor: –and the birth of state-sponsored, modern Islamic terror had begun. This was more than 20 years before September 11. It was also a full decade before the Berlin Wall fell and the Cold War ended–glorious results that Carter had done nothing to facilitate. Now, radical Islam, which would ultimately become the international successor to the communist menace, was in motion.

Big Peace: You write that that President Carter serves “as a twisted bridge of sorts between America’s two chief foes of the last 100 years: militant communism and militant Islamism,” or between “the two destructive ‘isms’ that would dominate the 20th century and (thus far) the 21st century.”

Kengor: Dupes closes by crossing that bridge. For every one of these Carter statements on Iran, I have more stunning Carter statements on the Soviets, Afghanistan, the Berlin Wall, North Korea, Hamas, the PLO, Iraq, North Korea, Castro, Kim, Arafat. It’s no coincidence that on the cover of Dupes, we have a photo of Jimmy Carter kissing Leonid Brezhnev–six months before Brezhnev’s Red Amy invaded Afghanistan, which led directly to Osama Bin Laden relocating to Afghanistan and to the ultimate formation of the Taliban. The Soviets invaded Afghanistan merely one month after the Iranians took hostages.

Big Peace: How about President Obama and Egypt right now?

Kengor: I’m certainly not optimistic. The big fear, once again, is that Mubarak will be replaced by Sharia theocrats from the Muslim Brotherhood–a repeat of the Shah-Ayatollah switch in Iran under Carter. Only time will tell. In the meantime, I don’t trust Barack Obama and the American Left to get this right. Their track record does not inspire optimism. The comments last week by Obama’s director of national intelligence, James Clapper, remind me of the assessments of the Ayatollah we heard from Carter advisers like Andrew Young and Cyrus Vance.

This is not good. And I blame those Americans who elected this crew in the first place. Obama was elected in November 2008 by the biggest collective group of dupes in modern American politics: moderates and independents. If Egypt goes the way of Iran, and if President Obama helps make that possible, these moderates and independents share some responsibility. For that matter, so will the college students who showed up in record numbers to elect Obama. Egypt has the potential to become the political cancer of their generation.


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