Breitbart, by John Hayward, July 12, 2016:
Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch joined SiriusXM host Stephen K. Bannon on Tuesday to discuss his new book, The Complete Infidel’s Guide to Iran.
When Bannon surveyed the current state of Sunni-Shiite tensions in the Middle East, coalescing into a regional conflict with Saudi Arabia and Iran as the respective leaders, and wondered if Western powers might be best advised to just let them slug it out, Spencer replied, “I don’t see why not.”
“In the 1980s, Iran and Iraq fought a war for eight years,” he recalled, describing it as “essentially a stalemate” akin to World War I trench warfare, with “immense casualties for both sides.”
“The Islamic Republic almost fell. Saddam Hussein had his own troubles. And the thing is, during that time, neither one of those were causing trouble for the West,” Spencer pointed out. “So, what’s the downside? We cannot prevent Sunnis and Shia from hating each other. Western leaders need to recover a sense that their primary responsibility is to protect their own citizens.”
Spencer said the arrogance Iran displays toward the West is a fusion of ancient Persian culture and Islamic supremacy. “It’s both. They’ve reinforced each other.”
“There’s no doubt that the Persians had a great civilization, long before Islam, long before they fell to Islam,” he said, adding:
That was a culture and a civilization that was always at odds with the West, always fighting the Roman Empire. So it’s really just a continuation of that ancient conflict. But Islam then reinforces that by giving the idea that Muslims have a responsibility to wage war against non-Muslims, and of course this is the basis on which Khomeini built the Islamic Revolution, and has kept Iran on a war footing against the U.S. ever since 1979, on Islamic principles.
In his book, Spencer makes the case that Iran is a far more dangerous and persistent adversary for the West than ISIS or al-Qaeda.
“Iran is what ISIS wants to be when it grows up,” he said. He continued:
Iran has a global network of terrorist organizations under its control – not only Shiite, but also Sunni Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which is also Sunni. And those groups, Hezbollah most notably, have a presence in the West. Hezbollah is working actively in Mexico with the drug cartels, teaching them to behead, teaching them their tactics, and that’s all aimed at getting into the United States.
“They already have sleeper cells in the United States,” he warned. He elaborated:
Nine years ago, there was an FBI report that said there are Hezbollah sleeper cells in the United States – that’s Iran, essentially – and that they were waiting for a time to strike, but right now, they were making so much progress without striking that they were going to lay low because, of course, they didn’t want the police attention that would come from the strikes. Those cells are still in place, and there’s nothing but more of them now.
Spencer said the danger from these long-term terrorist plans is largely ignored by the U.S. government and media, even though it’s a “central” agenda for Iran and its proxies.
“Every week, in the mosques, they chant, ‘Death to America’ during the Friday prayers,” he said. “It is central to them to hate the United States, and to consider themselves to be at war with the United States.”
“Americans don’t know this,” Spencer said, “because it hasn’t been taken seriously by the U.S. military because the Iranian military doesn’t have anything near the capability of ours.” He added that “the idea that they would go to war with us, in an actual shooting war, is something that would just set them up for destruction, and so the military and the political establishment have not taken it seriously.”
He worried that the intelligence community does not take the asymmetrical threat of Iranian terrorist warfare seriously enough, either.
“I think that the Obama administration has made a conscious decision to empower Iran to be the stabilizing force in the Middle East,” Spencer said, adding:
I think they don’t take seriously the Islamic Republic’s ideological basis. They refuse to understand that Islam is not a “religion of peace,” that it is on a war footing with non-Muslims. And so a whole country that’s based on that proposition? They can’t even see it. They refuse to acknowledge the existence of such a possibility.
He described this mindset as a “period of irrationality” regarding Iran, in which the political establishment of the United States has become effectively insane because “they refuse to accept the fundamental premise, which is that this is a religion that counsels war, and that this is a state which is based on those religious teachings.”
In 1979, when Khomeinei took over, nobody in the State Department had read a single book that he had written. Nobody knew anything about what he was all about. They just thought he was a religious fanatic. Nobody understands, or takes seriously, the depth and the power of the Islamic ideology, whether Shiite or Sunni.
He speculated that since the U.S. government has become ideologically incapable of seeing Islam, it looks at Iran and sees only the faded glory of the Persian Empire. Obama Administration strategic planners view Iran as “a powerful state, the only powerful state left with Saddam gone, in that region, and so if they are kind to it, it will be kind to us, and bring stability to that region.”
“They’re basing their principles on the way Western people think, and thinking we can sit down, and talk out all our differences, and figure this all out,” he said. “The idea that there’s this implacable ideology that will never compromise, never come to terms and be friends with us – they refuse to admit that as a possibility. They think we’re way beyond that stage in the world.”
Spencer found the Saudis, and other Sunni allies of the United States, unsurprisingly “appalled” by the Obama administration’s pivot to Iran – prompting the Saudis, and perhaps Egypt as well, to consider securing their own nuclear weapons as a check against nuclear Iran.
“What was intended to be a stabilizing force for the Middle East is essentially going to set the region even more on fire than it already is,” he predicted.