By Owei Lakemfa
DIANA Ross, The Supremes and The Temptations had a 1968 hit song titled ‘The Impossible Dream.’ In it, they sang:
“To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go…
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far
To fight for the right without question or pause
To be willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause”.
This is the situation Iran finds itself following last Friday’s murder of its envoy, General Qassem Soleimani at the Baghdad Airport by the United States of America, USA.
The Iranian delegation led by Soleimani and the Iraqi team led by Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the Deputy Commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilisation Forces, PMF, which was seeing them off, were wiped out.
Following this cowardly and criminal assassination, American President Donald Trump rather than strike a conciliatory tone, taunted the Iranians and threatened that if they responded in any manner that endangers Americans or American assets, he would wipe out 52 Iranian sites, including cultural ones. Iran has 22 UNESCO World Heritage sites, the eleventh largest in the world and a vandal threatens to destroy them! Iran has responded with ballistic missile attacks on American bases.
Iran has no option but to fight. The American administration, imbued with the mentality of the Biblical Goliath, believed that Iran is a meal it can chew and wash down with red wine. It seemed incapable of learning, even from its own history in Vietnam where a ragtag army militarily defeated it, or Afghanistan where its combined might with those of its allies are incapable of defeating the former Islamic students (Talibans).
The Iranians may be unable to match the USA, but they are not a people that will give up. In case of a full scale war, even if the Americans take Tehran, they may find out that like their takeover of Kabul, that would just be the beginning of its unwinnable war. It might find that years after its illusory victory, it would be begging for an end to the war as it is doing now in Afghanistan after losing 2,401 American soldiers, nine years after seizing the country.
The determined Iranians remind me of a classmate in high school. Even when he was beaten in fights, he never gave up nor became tired. He was capable of sustaining a fight over long periods even while bleeding. It was better to make peace with him. So we nicknamed him “unbeatable”.
Nigerian writer, Muritala Sule, narrated a similar experience in his autobiography, A Lifetime Of Friendships. He wrote of a friend, Lati Eleweomo: “He was a boy I had several encounters with and beat many times. But, beat him all you could, he kept coming like Joe Frazier. How could you claim to have beaten a boy who would continue the previous day’s fight with you whenever he sees you; that is, if you had managed to run away yesterday, in spite of the fact that you had the upper hand?
“Lati could sustain a fight for a month; he was always a tough customer. When he cried from pain, he only hooted, and tears never came out of his eyes. After a fight in the street during the day, he looked for you at home at night to continue the fight…Sometimes, all I did to have my peace was beg him or bribe him with whatever he demanded – money, some snacks, whatever.”
The conflict between the USA and Iranians began 66 years ago when the American Central Intelligence Agency, CIA, and British intelligence, eyeing the vast oil reserves of Iran, on August 19, 1953, executed a coup toppling the democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh. They then strengthened the monarchical rule of Sha Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, imposing him as the sole authority in Iran. What followed was a bloody 25-year resistance against dictatorship.
Late 1978, the opposition called for street protests which were backed by exiled cleric, Imam Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The Savak, the Sha’s secret police, killed hundreds of demonstrators, but the people never gave up until the Sha fled on January 16, 1979 and an Islamic Revolution proclaimed.
Another major point of conflict was when the Americans brought the Sha to their country, ostensibly for medical treatment. Iran demanded that the Americans extradite him to face trial for the thousands he had murdered. On November 4, 1979, Iranian college students seized the American Embassy and held 52 Americans hostage in exchange for the return of the Sha.
The Americans carried out a botched operation to rescue the hostages and ended losing eight service men. The hostages spent 444 days in captivity before the Iranians set them free on January 20, 1981.
The hostage crisis is credited for the none re-election of President Jimmy Carter. His successor, Ronald Reagan ended up selling arms and missiles to strengthen the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and using the money realised, to fund terrorists in Nicaragua called the Contras.
The Trump administration came into office with an agenda to destroy Iran. It sabotaged the International Iran Nuclear Peace Deal, designated the Iranian Revolutionary Guards as terrorists and on at least two occasions, tried to manufacture ‘evidence’ that Iran is responsible for attacks on shipping in the Gulf.
The world has lots of credulous persons. In world history, no leader is known to lie more than Trump. The Washington Post issue of October 14, 2019 reported that: “As of October 9, his 993rd day in office, he (Trump) had made 13,435 false or misleading claims…That is an average of almost 22 claims a day…”.
So when such a man who is steeped in false news and untruth, tells the world he ordered the murder of a foreign general on a third party soil because that general was planning to attack American diplomats, you would ordinarily think nobody would take his claim as gospel truth; but I read people uncritically parroting it. I begin to think that it is not only sinners who deserve to be tried in heavenly courts with the possibility of being sentenced to hell, fools also deserve to be in the dock.
There are countries preaching restraint without bringing anything to the table or extracting from America a promise that this type of international criminality will not be repeated.
Is that how they would have reacted were their top general on a diplomatic mission been murdered in the streets? Would they have treated their general like an expendable bullet while the perpetrators boast around the world threatening more violence?
Listening to Trump’s ramble on Wednesday in the face of the Iranian missile fightback, I am convinced that resisting bullies is a fundamental human right.