The targeted and justified assassination of General Qasem Soleimani, the commander of Iran's Quds Force, may indeed lead to outright war, but the real battle with Iran has been taking place for years right here in our country. We have all fallen victim to it.

Most of us don't realize it, the Iranians have created extensive cultural and social networks that have permeated the educational and political systems and are now having impacts on our governmental policy. These funding and growth of networks have been aided, in large part, by the Obama Administration and its policies. The now-defunct Iran nuclear deal included concessions like $150 billion and an additional $1.8 billion during the administration.

Agreements like this don't come cheap especially when Iran and Obama were attempting to enter into a relationship that would balance Iran out in the region with the Kindom of Saudi Arabia. Despite its appearance on the surface, the deal allowed Iran a level of access to the U.S. government that it had never enjoyed before. All this despite the fact that Obama's then Secretary of State John Kerry admitted directly that some of the money would fund terrorist activities.

Groups such as the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) have all banded together to attack our political system. In more recent times, their efforts have been focused on the removal of President Donald Trump by any means (Antifa anyone?) Sadly, anyone that falls outside of the group is commonly referred to as a Nazi. I am curious about how that resonates with Jewish people that don't vote Democrat.

Irina Tsukerman a national security analyst and human rights lawyer based in New York told International Business Times:

"The Obama administration worked closely with NIAC to foster the image of it being an independent and representative movement of Iranian Americans, not an unregistered foreign agent representing the interests of the Iranian regime. Despite successful defamation lawsuits against NIAC, it never registered as a foreign agent."

Opposing protest rallies in Portland, Oregon, turned violent, leading to multiple arrests after an anti-fascist group, more commonly known as Antifa, clashed with the far right-wing group Patriot Prayer. In this photo, Antifa members hold a sign denouncing Nazis along a road at a waterfront park in downtown Portland, Oregon Sept. 10, 2017. Getty Images/ NATALIE BEHRING

These groups have flooded our elections with candidates who back their political and cultural goals at the expense of undermining traditional American democratic values. When they could not physically affect the 2018 midterm elections they went another direction. When I say that, it's not a religious issue. It's a value issue; their power and financial backing allow them to place candidates at all levels of the government that will do their bidding.

They organize themselves as political bodies and action committees, appropriating "Islam" as the overarching theme, but in reality have limited membership which cross-pollinates the numerous legal entities they create for the sake of appearing far more diverse than they really are.

These bodies use pseudoreligious rhetoric to achieve power but do little by way of addressing grassroots local issues for their communities. Moreover, using religion and politics interchangeably, they create the appearance of "common values," though many Muslims would not necessarily agree to the marriage of politicized Islam and radical leftist jargon.

IMAGESAs the sun begins to set over Capitol Hill, US lawmakers careen toward the brink of one of the most divisive and momentous political steps in years: the impeachment of President Donald Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
IMAGESAs the sun begins to set over Capitol Hill, US lawmakers careen toward the brink of one of the most divisive and momentous political steps in years: the impeachment of President Donald Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. AFPTV / Eleonore SENS

These national-level organizations are known to be funded and backed by political movements with a history of distorting religious texts and instigating hatred of any critics. Despite these close unsavory associations, these organizations have managed to fool the wider public into believing that they are the true representatives of the entire Muslim world.

At the lower levels in regional politics, anyone who calls out these candidates and their support for Iranian causes and political connections and agendas are accused of being Islamophobic and bigoted. They take upon themselves to dictate not only policy supposedly benefiting the local Muslim communities but U.S. foreign policy and agenda in the name of the entire Muslim world.

The NIAC, in particular, has been instrumental in selling the nuclear deal, and later, attacking anything that would hold Iran accountable for its human rights abuses, terrorism, or violations of various international laws and norms. Their war drums beat anytime there is a policy shift on Iran that goes against their wishes, as they claim that unless Iran's demands are met, surely there will be a great regional conflagration and the U.S. will sacrifice money and troops in the ensuing combat.

A mock US flag is laid on the ground for cars to drive over in the Iraqi capital Baghdad
A mock US flag is laid on the ground for cars to drive over in the Iraqi capital Baghdad AFP / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D- Minn.), one of the lawmakers accused in the past of being sympathetic to Islamist terror causes, makes it sound okay to suggest subverting the president. Granted, we have the right to freedom of speech, but please remember that there are laws and limits. It is quite inappropriate for anyone to side with a possible enemy of our country at any time -- but especially during a time of increased hostilities and potential war.

Defamation of other people, ethnicities, and religions are not the proper use of the First Amendment, and being a member of the U.S. Congress is not a carte blanche for instigating hatred and spreading disinformation. If you want people to stop questioning your loyalties, stop giving them cause to do so. Omar's behavior Wednesday during a presser where the casualties during the Iraq war were being discussed has drawn widespread condemnation. PTSD is nothing to laugh and joke about, especially for those that do in fact have it. Apparently she found great humor in the suffering of Americans.

I never thought it would be possible for a leader of our nation to stand and laugh while the deaths of American servicemen and women were discussed? Please tell us what brings you joy about this topic? Is this an indication of the district that you represent, or a true disregard for grieving families? You would best serve the American people by stepping down in shame.

Until these issues are addressed and people are called to task, things will never change. The government should take a good, hard look at the money trail a stop to these activities. This is not American politics; this is the concentrated and calculated abduction of a political party to further the worldly ambitions of a kleptocratic regime that uses proxy militias to do its bidding while turning a blind eye to its population's troubles.

If you think that millions of Iranians are spoiling for a fight with the U.S., you would be very wrong. Corruption and destruction are the daily norms for them, and in a world like that who can blame them for looking up to an authority figure of any type lest they are murdered on the spot for not toeing the line. And it really does happen. People are often killed, and their families are not even allowed to grieve. Bodies are often turned over to the family on a concession that there be no funeral celebration and that they are buried silently.

Tsukerman adds: "The public in the U.S. is exposed to Iranian culture through the lens of the regiem censorship. The famous Iranian filmmakers and artists all have to kiss the ring of the Ayatollahs in order to be free to travel to the West and advance the agenda of cultural diplomacy in creating an image of Iran as richly cultured and influential in the arts, to contrast with the regime propaganda against the Arab Gulf states, generally portrayed as backwards Bedouins with no artistic or literary traditions. This cultural appeal goes a long way with left-leaning Western elites."

While we are the great melting pot that allows thoughts and ideas to meld into what shapes us as Americans, we must be vigilant that these foreign actors and their governments are not able to rearrange and distort our political system to create a hostile and subversive climate such as the one in Iran. The war as it were has been ongoing in our country for years, and its influence has altered the face of our government and processes so much that we have lost our identity. Sounds familiar?

(Benjamin Minick writes on military and defense and is an expert with several years of experience in Middle East policy and military tactics. The opinions expressed are the author's.)