Iran today is radically different than it was just 40 years ago. It is hard to imagine, but the Iranian leadership until 1979, was one of the most Westernized in the entire Middle East. But in 1979, the Ayatollahs took over. Prime Minister Netanyahu is correct in noting that it doesn’t need to be like it is today. Iran and Israel can indeed be allies against the radical Islamic threat that now plagues the Middle East and the entire world.
In the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s, the major threat facing the Western world was the threat of Communism. Even though the Communist revolution occurred following World War I, the threat of ever-spreading Communism was one of the outgrowths of the world War II victory by the Allied Forces. The United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union allied to defeat the Nazi threat in the greatest war in the history of mankind. However, by mid 1945, at the end of the war, it was clear that the Soviet Union had no intention to leave the Eastern European countries that it had occupied during the World War. A new war had begun – the Cold War.
Seeds of Future Conflicts
The United States policy of containment became the key strategy towards Communism. The idea was to not fight the Soviet Union about lands it had occupied, but to not let it expand anymore. This was the rationale behind the Korean War and Vietnam War. But by the end of the 70’s, there was no sense that the Soviet Union was weakening. On the contrary, before Ronald Reagan was elected President in 1980, the United States was perceived as weak and the Soviet Union was ascendant. But less than 10 years later, the Soviet Union began to unravel. Most people credit Ronald Reagan with the Cold War victory.
Let’s Turn the Clock Back
But the main point is to realize that time and again, the unexpected happens in world history. It may be convenient – though scary – to think that the radical Islamic threat is part of the world that we need to accept and deal with as a fact of life. But, indeed, the clock was turned back on the Soviet Union, and the Iranian threat can also be reversed, There were the seeds of an Iranian revolution on Barack Obama’s clock, but he refused to truly back up the masses in Iran. If and when President Trump is faced with a similar circumstance, the goal of the United States ought to be a catalyst to help turn the clock back to pre-1979.