How to Bring Middle East Peace and Stability
President Obama returned from his trip to the Middle East (ME) on March 23, leaving behind the illusion that peace and stability may still be an achievable goal between Palestinians and Israelis. The key issue which is always left unresolved is how to neutralize the destabilizing role the Iranian theocracy and its two terrorist proxies, Hamas and Hezb'allah, play in preventing any meaningful progress.
Complicating matters is Iran's drive to achieve a nuclear weapon capability. President Obama in recent statements, repeated during his trip to Israel, declared that "Iran is still over a year or so" away from building a nuclear weapon. Such statements should give no small comfort to Israel or the United States. Director of National Intelligence LT General James R. Clapper, USAF (ret.)'s declaration that Iran could not produce weapons-grade uranium without it being detected is questionable. According to Reza Kahlili, a pseudonym for a former CIA operative in Iran's Revolutionary Guards Force, Iran has mastered the technology (probably with China and North Korea's help) to enrich uranium to the 20-percent level, which is 80-90 percent of the way to weapons grade.
The Obama administration's offer of direct negotiations in an attempt to resolve the nuclear weapon issue, fortunately, has always been rejected by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. What would any agreement to emerge from such talks really mean? Certainly, the sharia concept of taqiyya, which is described as lying for the sake of Islam, particularly if you are weak compared to your adversary, would come into play. It appears that the Obama administration is quite ready to sign such a document with the illegitimate Khamenei regime in effect, guaranteeing the legitimacy of a corrupt regime that is prepared with its terrorist proxies to annihilate our ally, Israel, and continue attacks against U.S. interests.
The P5+1 group (five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany) have so far failed to stop Iran's nuclear weapon program. President Obama's repeated declaration that we will not permit Iran to develop a nuclear weapon and that all options are on the table have a "hollow" ring. No one, including Iran, believes that President Obama is serious about a military strike.
There are those who believe that even if Iran achieves a nuclear weapon capability, it can be contained by deterrence -- since we were able to deter the Soviet Union. What they fail to comprehend is the fundamental difference between the atheist and materialistic Soviet regime and the apocalyptic mindset of the Khamenei regime, which believes in the supremacy of the afterlife gained through a chaotic holy war. Even a distinguished scholar like Bernard Lewis has finally agreed that that deterrence will not work with Iran.
According to Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran is not a status-quo power; rather, it must work to expand the reach of the Red Crescent. Certainly Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki has been most "differential" to Iran's objectives. On the tenth anniversary on our invasion of Iraq, there were many self-critical mainstream articles touting the failure to challenge the Bush administration's rationale for the war. What's strange is that no one has raised a more central issue -- did we go into the wrong country? After all, at that time, Iran had been at war with the United States for almost 24 years and had cost thousands of American lives.
Aside from their takeover of our embassy in Tehran in November 1979, we have positive proof of the Iranians' involvement in ordering the bombing of our U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon on October 23, 1983, and most likely the bombing of our Beirut embassy in April 1983. There followed countless kidnappings, as well as the murder or our CIA station chief in Beirut and the bombing in 1996 of Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia. Most important was the material and training support they provided to the 9/11 hijackers, which was proven in New York federal district court, where Iran and Hezb'allah were found co-responsible with al-Qaeda by Judge George Daniels on 22 December 2011.
Every administration from President Carter to the present has failed to come to grips with the fact that Iran is at war with us. The problem has always been Iran. Regime change in Iran has always been a necessary part of an environment for positive movement on Palestinian-Israel issues. Even though we have been involved in two wars over the last decade and our military forces are being hollowed out with the draconian budget cuts by the Obama administration, withdrawing from the "field of battle" has never guaranteed peace. Since nobody believes that President Obama is serious about a military strike, this could work to our advantage. Deception is always a key factor.
Accordingly, we need to prepare our forces to implement our strategic strike plan to eliminate Iran's nuclear infrastructure. Iran's oil-producing infrastructure should be held at risk along with other key industrial targets as a means of limiting Iran's response. With upcoming elections scheduled for June 2013 in Iran, we should provide material and other support to Iran's opposition forces, so that when our strike plan is implemented, the opposition forces will be ready to move as part of a coordinated effort. Further, such action will send a much-needed signal to other adversaries as well.
James A. Lyons, a U.S. Navy retired admiral, was commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations.