10/22/2009 - Iran: Biggest Threat Since Soviets

This op-ed by Mitt Romney appeared online at Human Events on 10/22/2009. It is entitled Iran: Biggest Threat Since Soviets.

The Iranian leadership is the greatest immediate threat to the world since the fall of the Soviet Union, and before that, Nazi Germany.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has gone well beyond the boundary of outrage — beginning with his calculated desecration of history. When he denies the Holocaust, he could care less about history. His point is about the present and the future. His purpose is not merely to deny the Holocaust, but also to deny Israel. He is testing the waters. He wants to know who will object. And how they will register their objection.

That’s why it was so shocking last month when the United Nations gave a platform to a Holocaust-denier who has pledged over and over again that he will wipe out Israel. It was a grotesque moment and another stain on the reputation of the U.N. And congratulations to Prime Minister Netanyahu for having the moral courage to say what needed to be said to those members of the United Nations who stayed to listen to Ahmadinejad — “Have you no shame!”

I will happily agree that the U.N. has done some good in its history. But I will also insist that it has also done terrible damage to the causes it claims to uphold. And on no issue has it been more irresponsible and morally reckless than when considering the fate of Israel.

The Iranian regime threatens not only Israel, but also every other nation in the region, and ultimately the world. It is a repressive regime… an intractable enemy of liberty and human rights… the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism and subversive war. The threat it poses to the world would take on an entirely new dimension if Iran were allowed to become a nuclear power.

Earlier this month, senior staff members of the U.N. nuclear agency concluded in a confidential analysis that Iran has acquired “sufficient information to be able to design and produce a workable” atom bomb. We also learned of a previously secret, illegal uranium enrichment facility that the Iranians had been hiding near Qom.

A nuclear Iran would be a tipping point in the proliferation of nuclear regimes, and yet America still has not taken critical steps to immediately dissuade Iran from its nuclear folly.

At this late stage, I would simply say that it is long past time for America to recognize the nature of the regime we are dealing with. The Iranian regime is unalloyed evil, run by people who are at once ruthless and fanatical. We should stop thinking that a charm offensive will talk the Iranians out of their pursuit of nuclear weapons. It will not. And agreements, unenforceable and unverifiable, will have no greater impact here than they did in North Korea. Once an outstretched hand is met with a clenched fist, it becomes a symbol of weakness and impotence. President Eisenhower said it well: “The care of freedom is not long entrusted to the weak and timid.”

The President of the United States can employ his admiration and good will to actually accomplish something meaningful and real in Iran — comprehensive, withering sanctions, diplomatic isolation, and international support for the forces of freedom within Iran.The people of Iran represent a major source of strength. By and large, they have not been radicalized by their government and clerics; in fact, the regime’s effort to crush the uprising against it has only alienated the people of Iran. They fear economic stagnation and they hate political repression. Most are not seeking a military confrontation with the West. Indeed, most want greater engagement with the West.

And the military option must remain on the table — and that threat needs to be credible. Unfortunately — for reasons that are unfathomable to me — our government has signaled that the military option is effectively off the table. How can that be countenanced when an ally of the United States faces an existential threat?

I don’t pretend for a moment that the course of action to take with Iran is easy or obvious; there are costs to anything we do, but there are even greater costs if we do nothing at all. If we allow Iran under the rule of the mullahs to get a nuclear weapon, it will make the problems America faces today look like a walk in the park.

The clock is ticking, with no real progress to show for the precious time that has already lapsed.

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