The Bush administration’s plan to declare Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization is worse than a waste of time: It is an outright evasion of the Iranian assault on America.

There is a good reason why the New York City Police Department does not make official pronouncements to the effect that Mafia hitmen are murderers: Everyone knows that Mafia hitmen are murderers. There would be no point in making such a declaration—unless, of course, the NYPD wanted to hype the significance of the hitmen so as to avoid having to deal with the real problem: the Mafia.

Of course the Iranian Guard is a terrorist organization; the very state that founded and employs it is a terrorist state—and every thinking person on the planet knows this. So why is the Bush administration engaging in such folly? The stated rationale is that by officially designating the Iranian Guard a terrorist organization, we will dissuade foreign firms and financial institutions from doing business with the organization. The problem with this rationale is (among other things) that it blatantly ignores the identity of our enemy.

Just as our enemy in World War II was not the German Navy but the Nazi regime, so our enemy here is not the Iranian Guard but the Iranian regime—a regime that has murdered or aided in the murder of thousands of Americans—a regime whose political and spiritual leaders chant every day about their desire to murder more Americans—a regime that is working around the clock to build or buy nuclear weapons. Yes, the Guard is a major part of the regime’s military, but, as such, it is a part of the regime—not a separate and distinct enemy. To treat the Guard as though it were an enemy apart from the Iranian regime is to pretend that the regime itself is not our enemy—and thus to evade the necessity of eliminating it.

The solution to the problem of Iran’s aggression against America is not economic pressure on a portion of its military, but the swift and total destruction of everything that enables the Iranian regime to exist: its military installations, assets, and personnel (including the Guard); its government buildings and political officials; its mosques, madrassahs (colleges in which students are trained to be Islamists), mullahs, and clerics. The way to accomplish this goal is by waging a massive bombing campaign from high altitude and long distance—and by sustaining this campaign until the Iranian regime is no more. (American soldiers should not be sent in on foot, except as necessary to identify targets or gather intelligence. And, as always, the deaths of all innocents in such a campaign are solely the responsibility of the force-initiating regime that necessitated the retaliatory measures.)

Why does the Bush administration ignore such an elementary solution? Why does it refuse to employ our advanced weaponry and eliminate the Iranian regime? Because the only possible motive for such a campaign is American self-interest, and, according to the Judeo-Christian ethic—the moral code that guides the Bush administration—self-interest is immoral.

Therein lies the obstacle.

We cannot support a foreign policy of self-defense apart from a morality of self-interest; the former is wholly an expression of the latter. In order for the U.S. government to engage in a campaign of American self-defense, American citizens—those who elect and influence our country’s leadership—must demand it. And in order to demand such a campaign, Americans must come to understand and embrace the principle that acting in a self-interested manner—which means: using reason to identify, pursue, and defend the values on which their life, liberty, and happiness depend—is the essence of being moral. The observation-based, logical proof of this principle, for those willing to let the evidence decide the matter, can be found in Ayn Rand’s book The Virtue of Selfishness.

The Iranian regime is tirelessly plotting to murder you, me, our children, our families, and our friends. Every literate American knows this (even the ones who deny it). But under the spell of America’s current moral premises, we will not defend ourselves; we will not destroy the Iranian regime; and we will pay dearly, again and again. It is time to abandon the self-sacrificial guidance of the Judeo-Christian ethic and its corresponding foreign policy of paralysis. It is time to embrace the morality of self-interest and its corresponding foreign policy of self-defense. Our lives and the lives of our loved ones depend on it.

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