Iran talks in Geneva November 20 2 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse)
‘Always believe the threats of your enemies, more than the promises of your
friends,” Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel has said. This wise
advice is becoming a cold reality for many of America’s longtime allies in the
Middle East, amid an unprecedented breakdown in US foreign policy and
credibility in the region.
Indeed, America’s allies in an extremely
volatile part of the world have been left stunned by a foreign policy – from
Egypt to Syria and now to Iran – which has been bumbling at best and damaging at
worst. This foreign policy fumble has serious long-term implications for US
But today, with Iran within reach of the technical
capacity to build a nuclear weapon, the US itself is nearing a point of no
return. There is grave concern in Congress (and across America) that the
emerging agreement being brokered by the US and world powers with Iran in Geneva
will irrevocably weaken sanctions against Iran, without doing anything about the
infrastructure of their nuclear program.
The only reason that the
Iranians are at the table is because of the economic sanctions. Minimizing the
sanctions without demanding that the Iranians dismantle their nuclear weapons
program is giving away our leverage, and is a recipe for disaster.
talk by Iran’s new President Hassan Rouhani is no substitute for action. This is
especially true when talking about a regime which is a master at diplomatic
sleight of hand, procrastination and duplicity.
While tougher sanctions
can always be modified in the event of real progress, a poor deal will likely
erode the sanctions altogether among other countries eager to resume trade with
Iran, despite administration pledges to maintain vigilance.
It seems that
for the Obama administration, the importance of a deal in and of itself has
superseded the outcome of such an accord.
Little wonder that the Saudis,
who are vying with Iran for regional hegemony, are fit to be tied.
public show of pique, they first turned down a seat on the UN Security Council,
and are now reportedly planning to scale back security cooperation with the US.
And ties with Israel are again strained.
What message is America sending
to its longtime allies in this volatile region? These allies have been left
twisting in the wind.
The troubling perception of America in the region
is one of weakness and retreat. The US should not lead from behind, nor withdraw
from the Middle East. We should not hesitate to take bold steps as needed. This
is not a call to arms, but for our country to simply act as a world
In the words of Wiesel, if the promises of the US as a friend are
unreliable, the threats of enemies will control.
The writer, a
congressman from Colorado, is a member of the House Armed Services Committee and
co-chairs the bipartisan Congressional Israel Allies Caucus.