Amir Taheri recalls the American hostage crisis in 1979. The column provides an excellent overview of how a potential American ally became an opponent.
It was then that Khomeini coined his notorious phrase, “America cannot do a damn thing.”
He also ordered that the slogan “Death to America” be inscribed in all official buildings and vehicles. The U.S. flag was to be painted at the entrance of airports, railway stations, ministries, factories, schools, hotels and bazaars so that the faithful could trample it under their feet every day.
The slogan “America cannot do a damn thing” became the basis of all strategies worked out by Islamist militant groups, including those opposed to Khomeini.
That slogan was tested and proved right for almost a quarter of a century. Between Nov. 4, 1979, and 9/11, a total of 671 Americans were held hostage for varying lengths of time in several Muslim countries. Nearly 1,000 Americans were killed, including 241 Marines blown up while sleeping in Beirut in 1983.
For 22 years the United States, under presidents from both parties, behaved in exactly the way that Khomeini predicted. It took countless successive blows, including the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York, without decisive retaliation. That attitude invited, indeed encouraged, more attacks.
The 9/11 tragedy was the denouement of the Nov. 4 attack on the U.S. embassy in Tehran.
You should read it all.