I have just returned from Israel, where I spent 10 days and had the opportunity to visit with people from the prime minister to street market vendors in Jerusalem’s Old City and gained perspectives ranging from Knesset members and rabbis to Arab Israelis, Christian Israelis and Muslim merchants. I can attest firsthand that the threat of Iran's government to “wipe Israel off the face of the map” is taken far more seriously than in the Obama administration, where the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Martin Dempsey, spoke for the president by saying that “Iran is a rational actor.”
Really? A government is “rational” that denies the Holocaust, publicly boasts of its goal of obliterating entire nations, is poised to execute by hanging a young Christian pastor because his faith offends the sensitivities of a government that will shoot women in the streets of Tehran should they dare question the results of a phony election? Calling such a government “rational” is not only irrational, but recklessly dangerous and not just to Israel, but to every nation in the Middle East, Europe, Asia, Africa and the United States, not to mention the decent and civil people who live in Iran, but who do not share the radical, racist and ruthless outlook of their own maniacal government.
Last week’s failed United Nations mission to Iran, which ended with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors denied access to a military site at Parchin, demonstrates that time is running out on a diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Steel vessels at the Parchin site indicated explosives testing connected to a nuclear-weapons program. The IAEA’s Feb. 24 report was damning, remarkable for a U.N. agency normally given to diplomatic doublespeak.
Like the discovery of a secret nuclear site near Qom in 2009 by Western intelligence agencies, now fully operational, we face a doomsday scenario: a radical Islamist regime committed to Israel’s destruction on the verge of an operational nuclear fuel cycle possessing ballistic-missile technology capable of launching attacks on Western European cities and, in two to three years, the United States.
Unless the West acts immediately, we confront the prospect of a runaway nuclear arms race in the most dangerous region in the world. Iran has the ability to blackmail and browbeat its neighbors as well as pass “dirty bombs” to its proxy puppets like Hamas or Hezbollah, or start a general war in the Middle East. Thanks, but no thanks.
Congress recently passed strict sanctions against Iran's Central Bank over the objections of the Obama administration. If fully enforced, these sanctions will effectively cripple Iran’s oil industry, which provides 50 percent of its annual budget. But the Obama administration insisted on a provision allowing it to suspend the sanctions if it deemed their impact would roil global oil markets. This sends precisely the wrong signal to Tehran. Iran only produces 2.5 percent of the world’s oil, and commodity markets have largely calculated the impact of an Iranian oil slowdown in crude-oil prices.
One hopes President Obama is not putting domestic political concerns ahead of his responsibility as commander in chief. Nor is this the least of Mr. Obama’s failure to lead. The Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act (CISADA) gives the administration the ability to sanction any company anywhere in the world doing business with Iran. But it has been applied to just 10 foreign companies and entities. The blacklist of corporate miscreants should be broadened.
This is part and parcel of the Obama administration’s entire response to the Iranian threat, which has been one of vacillation, weakness and confusion. The latest bizarre installment was Gen. Dempsey’s straight-faced assertion on CNN that Iran is a “rational actor” that is not seeking nuclear weapons. He rebuked Israel for considering a military strike against Iran’s nuclear sites as “destabilizing.”
Even more dangerous are Mr. Obama’s trillion-dollar cuts in defense, which took effect the same month satellite photos revealed blackened holes had replaced two buildings at a remote Iranian military facility where Iranian scientists were said to be working on a breakthrough in missile technology.
Meanwhile, Iran has been linked to the attempted assassination of the Saudi ambassador on U.S. soil, and to attempted-bombing attacks on Israeli diplomats in India, Georgia and Thailand.
The Obama administration should strictly enforce sanctions against Iran's Central Bank, accelerate the timetable of the European Union’s oil boycott of Iran and increase covert action within Iran to destabilize the regime and its nuclear program. The State Department should provide long-overdue assistance to Iranian dissidents with satellite phone and Internet technology to enable them to organize and communicate free from the regime’s authoritarian boot.
When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu comes to the White House next week, Mr. Obama should issue an unequivocal statement that Israel is fully within its rights to protect itself against the existential threat of Iran, and if it does so, it will enjoy U.S. support. He should further state that the United States is actively considering military action. We need Mr. Obama to act more like Winston Churchill and less like Neville Chamberlain. The world has had one Holocaust. God help us all if we allow another one.
Iran is the focus of evil in the modern world. The time for U.S. slow-walking of this threat is over. The nuclear clock is ticking, and time is running out.
Mike Huckabee is a former Republican governor of Arkansas.
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