Khomeini’s Taunts Still Haunts
November 28, 1979 — The Daily Iowan
Talk of a U.S.-Iran war is nothing new. The topic actually dates all the way back to 1979.
In their second Iran-related editorial of the day, Daily Iowan staff writer Korey Willoughby, who had been active with the anti-Shah Iranian People’s Support Committee at the time, now focused on the new Iranian menace, one Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
A smart cookie, Willoughby later wrote for publications like The Chicago Tribune and also became a primary school teacher with Chicago Public Schools.
While the debate over what to do about the hostages in Iran raged, Willoughby cautioned against an Operation Entebbe style rescue mission to free them. Several months later, in April 1980, Jimmy Carter launched Operation Eagle Claw anyway, and its disastrous failure would mark the lowest moment of his entire Presidency.
Yet the United States did not need to go to war with the Islamic Republic of Iran after all. Saddam Hussein was kind enough to attack Iran for them, and the Reagan administration, Iraq’s ally of convenience, showed its gratefulness by assisting them in their bloodbath. And the region has been peaceful ever since....
Wednesday, November 28, 1979
As the hostage situation continues in Iran, the shrieking Ayatollah Khomeini becomes more militant every day. During the past week he has deliberately baited the White House, issuing taunts like the following: “Jimmy Carter is too much of a coward to confront us militarily.” He has ordered the Iranian people to train and equip themselves for a military confrontation with the “Satanic United States”.
Whatever other motives he may have, it is clear that Khomeini means to provoke the U.S. into a period of increased militarization. Perhaps inspired by Carter’s “assault” on Guantanamo Bay, Khomeini hopes to badger the administration into a show of force, a display of military hardware. The Ayatollah wants the U.S. to play the role of the ruthless giant out to crush “Islam”.
So far, Khomeini is not much more popular in the Islamic nations than he is in the West. Sadat [Egyptian President Anwar Sadat] called him a lunatic and a disgrace to the religion. In order to garner support outside of Iran, Khomeini needs to make the U.S. appear militarily threatening to others besides Iranians.
Unfortunately, it looks like many Americans are going to take the bait. Suddenly the army is crying poor. The front page of Sunday’s Des Moines Register carried this headline: “U.S. Army couldn’t win a war, experts say.” Clearly, the “experts” hope to turn American frustration and outrage into more dollars and cents for the Pentagon.
The connection between our military “preparedness” and the present crisis in Iran is specious. An Entebbe-style military rescue is unlikely, not because of the state of the U.S. army, but because of the geographical situation. [In 1976, Israel successfully raided Entebbe Airport in Uganda to rescue hostages held by PLO terrorists]
While the crisis continues, and perhaps especially when it ends, we can expect the most hawkish members of the government and the society to call for a greater development and display of U.S. military strength. In response to such demands, we should, among other things, ask why Khomeini is so obviously calling for the same thing.
Human wrongs | Korey Willoughby, Letter to The Daily Iowan, November 30, 1978
House panel spreads blame for spook goof — United Press International, January 25, 1979
If You Want Trouble, There’s Plenty in the Middle East — The Buffalo Courier-Express (1952)
MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”