President Obama says Republicans are engaging in “casual” talk about war with Iran. Actually, Mr. President, it’s not casual talk, it’s frustration. It was extremely frustrating for us to see the Obama administration try to water down sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran. The Senate forced the issue with a unanimous 100-0, vote, and the administration responded by seeking waivers to lessen the blow.
Another frustration was the administration’s early decision to reach out to the Iranian ayatollahs and ask them to “unclench” their fists. The Iranians met this well-intentioned gesture by rigging the 2009 elections and engaging in the wholesale slaughter of the Iranian people when they raised their voices in objection. The Persian Spring came and went with virtual silence on our government’s part. A great opportunity in Iran was wasted.
The president now accuses Republicans of not doing a cost-benefit analysis regarding action against Iran, a charge with which I strongly disagree. We know the price of undertaking military action against Iran is high, but the costs of Iran obtaining nuclear-weapons capability are greater.
However, Iran with nuclear-weapons capability could hold the world hostage as it sees fit. The Iranians likely would share nuclear materials with terrorist organizations, and Sunni Arab nations in the region would seek nuclear programs to counter the Iranians.
The equation for our Israeli allies is much simpler: Iran with nuclear-weapons capability is simply unacceptable.
If Israel attacks Iran, Israel will be targeted for retribution. If the United States attacks Iran, Israel also will be targeted for retribution. Either way, the state of Israel and its citizens likely will suffer the greatest blows from Iran. This is why Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made clear that Israel must remain the master of its own fate.
Over the past three years of American engagement with Iran, we have seen an all-too-familiar pattern emerge. We talk, the Iranians enrich. We sanction, they enrich. Start process over. Repeat.
It is indeed frustrating that after three years of engagement and sanctions, all we have to show for them is an Iranian regime in possession of more enriched uranium than ever, enough to make 1.5 nuclear bombs.
I would like to remind Mr. Obama that when he was a presidential candidate, he never hesitated to criticize U.S. policy in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was a right to which he was entitled and one he freely exercised. Our criticisms today are based on frustration with policy, not personality.
Many Republicans remain gravely concerned that sanctions and engagement will not stop the Iranian regime, which seems hellbent on obtaining nuclear-weapons capability. Sanctions and engagement may work only if serious military consequences lie ahead.
American intentions are less clear when top intelligence officials from the Obama administration say they are uncertain about Iranian intentions to obtain a nuclear weapon.
Would Iran suffer through economic devastation if it were not trying to produce a nuclear weapon? Why build peaceful nuclear facilities in underground bunkers? Why create clandestine enrichment facilities and hide them from the international community?