Following the election of Benjamin Netanyahu as Prime Minister of Israel, we have seen a growing trend belittling the concerns of Netanyahu over the threat of an Iran armed with nuclear weapons. These commentators contend that Iran is not really a serious threat to Israel or to world peace, and what really drives Iranian foreign policy is self-interest and survival rather than any evil intenions. This assertion flies in the face of reality and ignores basic historical facts. Armed with nuclear weapons, Iran would make the Middle East a much more dangerous part of the world. Israel has every right to be concerned, and so should all of us who value freedom.
The premise that Iran's key motivating factor is survival ignores the events of the past 30 years. Look at the list of Iranian sponsored terror attacks over this period, and you'll understand that these events had nothing to do with the "survival" of the Iranian regime. Indeed, the Islamic Republic of Iran has a much more sinister agenda in mind.
Iran's sponsorship of terror began in the 1980's. The government of Iran was responsible for masterminding the 1983 attack on the Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon that killed 241 Americans who were sent there on a peacekeeping mission. Those Marines were certainly no threat to the new Islamic Republic of Iran.
No one can claim that U.S. foreign policy during the Clinton era was a threat to anyone, yet Iranian sponsored terror actually increased during this period. In 1996, Iran was responsible for the bombing of the Khobar Towers in Dahran, Saudi Arabia that killed 19 U.S. airmen who were supporting the U.N. mandated "no-fly zones" over Iraq. Few Americans know that it was also during this period that Iran reached out to the new terrorist on the block- Osama Bin-Laden.
A little-known report titled "Iran's Proxy War Against America" authored by researcher Thomas Joscelyn should be required reading for those who truly want to understand the Iranian threat. In this eye-opening report, Joscelyn uses open sources, such as the government's 9/11 Commission Repott, to document Iran's assistance to Al-Qaeda both directly and indirectly through Hezb'allah. Joscelyn presents clear evidence of Iranian support for Al-Qaeda in preparing the devastating 1998 attacks on two American embassies in Africa. All of this leads to evidence of Iranian logistical support for Al-Qaeda in the attacks on September 11th, 2001.
In his book, Countdown to Crisis, author Kenneth Timmerman provides credible evidence that Iranian leaders were directly involved in assisting the Al-Qaeda leadership in carrying out the attacks on the United States on 9/11/01. According to Timmerman, this assistance was coordinated through a visit by the son of Osama Bin Laden four months before the attacks. In this visit, Bin-Laden met privately with the top leadership of the government of Iran for several hours. In the aftermath of the attacks, the United States government's 9/11 Commission verified that 10 of the 19 hijackers came out of Afghanistan and passed through Iran on their way to the attacks. There can be no doubt that this cooperation was the result of the Bin-Laden visit.
The removal of both Saddam Hussein in Iraq and the Taliban in Afghanistan eliminated serious threats to the survival of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Yet, since the American overthrow of Saddam Hussein and the Taliban, Iran has been directly responsible for the deaths of American soldiers in those countries. General David Petraeus said that Iran "has been responsible for providing the weapons, the training, the funding and in some cases the directions for operations that have killed U.S. soldiers".
Although Israel has never threatened the destruction of Iran, the government of Iran threatens to destroy Israel on a regular basis. Indeed, it is Iran's obsession with the destruction of Israel that has brought it to become the chief sponsor of terror organizations like Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad who are dedicated to Israel's destruction.
Since 2000, Hamas has carried out dozens of suicide bombing attacks and launched thousands of rockets against Israeli civilians. Without Iranian sponsorship, Hamas would be out of business thus eliminating the threat of Hamas from Gaza that precipitated the recent Israeli military operation.
The governments of Iran and Syria, co-sponsors of the Lebanese terror organization Hezbollah, were directly responsible for supplying Hezbollah with the 4,000 rockets that were fired on civilians in northern Israel during the summer of 2006 that killed 43 people and wounded hundreds. Following the war, Iran worked to restock Hezbollah's supply of rockets, arming the terror organization to beyond pre-war levels, in direct violation of U.N. Security Council resolution 1701. Hezbollah also has a global reach that goes far beyond the Middle East and stands ready to serve Iran.
In 2006, following a lengthy investigation, Argentina formally accused the government of Iran for its responsibility in masterminding the 1994 attack on the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people. Hezbollah carried out the attack on behalf of the government of Iran. Specifically named in the accusation were former Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani and seven others.
None of these atrocities can be justified for any reason, and they certainly have nothing to do with the "survival" of the government of Iran. There is, however, a much more sinister goal for Iranian sponsored terror: exporting its revolution.
The president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said, "Our nation's most important mission is to introduce the Islamic Revolution to the whole of mankind". It is no coincidence that the task of exporting terror is assigned to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The Qods Force branch of the IRGC has been designated as a terrorist supporting organization by the U.S. government subject to additional sanctions for its support of Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad.
An Iran armed with nuclear weapons would use its nuclear umbrella for its terror proxies to bully and intimidate the oil-rich Middle East into submission. If a nuclear-armed Iran told its neighbors to raise the price of oil in order to bleed the west, they would certainly comply with the words, "Yes, Ayatollah".
Peter Berkowitz, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute of Stanford, wrote about the nervous atmosphere in the oil-rich Persian Gulf following his recent trip to the region. In an article titled "Downwind from Iran", he wrote that Kuwait and Dubai "...both view Iran as a destabilizing expansionist power seeking regional hegemony in the Gulf, preeminence in the greater Middle East, and leadership in the worldwide Islamic revolution".
Since the goal of Iran is exporting the Islamic revolution through its sponsorship of terror, things will only get worse if we allow the world's leading state sponsor of terror to acquire the ultimate weapon of terror. We ignore this threat at our own peril.