GOP con­cern over Iran isn’t ‘ca­sual’

Obama’s weak pol­icy en­cour­ages ter­ror­ist regime to seek nukes

The Washington Times Daily - - Metro - By Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham

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 nu­cle­ar­weapons ca­pa­bil­ity are greater.

Amer­i­can mil­i­tary ac­tion against Iran will open Pan­dora’s box, but Iran with nu­clear-weapons ca­pa­bil­ity emp­ties Pan­dora’s box.

Any at­tack on Iran will im­me­di­ately place thou­sands of Amer­i­can troops in the re­gion un­der even greater threat and likely prompt Iran to un­leash ter­ror­ist ac­tiv­i­ties against the Amer­i­can home­land.

How­ever, Iran with nu­cle­ar­weapons 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.

The Is­raelis are clear-eyed that an at­tack on Iran could re­sult in a sit­u­a­tion in which some Is­raelis may per­ish. An Iran with nu­clear weapons, in their view, means all may per­ish.

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?

The Ira­nian regime can­not be trusted. It has par­tic­i­pated in the killing of Amer­i­cans in Iraq and Afghanistan, it openly avows the destruc­tion of Is­rael, it tried to as­sas­si­nate the Saudi am­bas­sador in Washington and is the pri­mary sup­porter of groups as­so­ci­ated with ter­ror­ism, such as Ha­mas and Hezbol­lah.

Given its his­tory, to not be alarmed and gravely con­cerned about Iran is both un­wise and dan­ger­ous. If there ever was a time for Amer­i­can clar­ity and sense of pur­pose, it is now.

I’ve tried to be bi­par­ti­san and sup­port the pres­i­dent in tak­ing a tougher line against the Ira­nian lead­er­ship. When he says it’s un­ac­cept­able for Iran to ob­tain nu­clear-weapons ca­pa­bil­ity, I agree. When he says con­tain­ment of a nu­cle­ar­armed Iran is not an op­tion, I agree.

At the end of the day, the real ques­tion is not whether Repub­li­cans like me are will­ing to be sup­port­ive of Pres­i­dent Obama. The ques­tion is whether the Ira­nian regime re­spects him and be­lieves he is dead se­ri­ous about us­ing any and all tools to stop it from ob­tain­ing nu­clear-weapons ca­pa­bil­ity. It’s on that ques­tion that doubts re­main, and those doubts ex­tend from the United States to Europe to Is­rael all the way up to the lead­er­ship of the Ira­nian regime.

There are many rea­sons for us to be frus­trated.

IL­LUS­TRA­TION BY DONNA GRETHEN

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