09/05/2013 06:10 pm ET Updated Nov 05, 2013

A Nonsymbolic War

Last week, in my post "Symbolic Wars," I advocated that the U.S. strike Iran rather than Syria. Iran is Syria's sponsor, it is thought to be the source of whatever chemical weapons Syria possess and it is known to control Hezbollah, which continue to battle for Assad against the forces trying to overthrow him.

Iran also has targets worthy of destruction. Its oil fields had provided the majority of its revenue for many years. But 2006, when it was revealed that Iran was attempting to build nuclear weapons, the UN instituted sanctions that have since reduced Iranian oil revenues by 50 percent but even with that reduction they provide half of Iran's income from exports. Further disruption of Iran's oil flow might damage its economy so greatly that the reign of the Ayatollahs would end. Two years ago, the Iranian rial was valued at 7,027 to the dollar. Now it takes 12,285 rials to buy a dollar, but so far Iran has managed to struggle along and feed its citizens. The Iranian government is unlikely to survive if oil revenue decreases. Further destruction of Iranian oil production will have serious consequences, it is not a symbolic gesture, it will have a real effect on Iran's future. If Iran falters, Syria falls apart.

In 1979, when the Ayatollah returned, I was still running ITNA (Independent Television News Association) and we were fully aware that the Ayatollah was flying from Paris to Tehran to seize control of the Iranian nation. I could not believe that the United States, or for that matter the Israelis, would permit the plane to land. I ordered a double-hop satellite feed from the Iranian national television network through Switzerland to New York covering the arrival of the Ayatollah or the rioting that would ensue if the Ayatollah's plane failed to arrive. The arrival was scheduled for about 9 p.m. Pacific Standard Time and my west coast stations would have a 10 hour lead if they ran the story on their 10 p.m. newscasts. The feed worked perfectly but ended in a major uproar when Ayatollah supporters (later to be christened The Revolutionary Guard) attacked the television techs and put the feed to an abrupt end. We were the only ones to have recorded the event, and fed it out to the rest of the world the next morning.

At the time, I thought the Ayatollah's rule would be short, but he and his son, with the support of the revolutionary guard, will be celebrating their 35th anniversary on February 1, 2014. Over that period, Iran has become the most powerful nation in the Middle East. It was the Ayatollah's "Islamic Jihad" who slaughtered 220 Marines as well as 21 other American servicemen in Lebanon in 1983. Islamic Jihad merged into Hezbollah, which became the most powerful political group in Lebanon. Since our invasion of Iraq, the Ayatollah's Shi'ite followers now control most of that country. Iran supplies the Taliban with most of its weapons and is attempting to extend its influence over the Gulf Arab states, particularly Bahrain, and of course, they are the most important supporter of Syria and the Assad regime.

It would seem to me that if any nation in the Middle East poses a threat to the well being of the United States it is Iran. So, if there is to be military action in the Middle East, let it not be upon the client state, Syria, but upon its much more dangerous sponsor, Iran.