Punish Iran

Iran has worked for decades to undermine moderate Arab regimes, develop and acquire nuclear weapons, and arm and support some of the worst terrorist organizations known to man.

September 19, 2019 22:19
3 minute read.
Punish Iran

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a news conference at Salam Palace in Baghdad, Iraq March 11, 2019. (photo credit: THAIER AL-SUDANI/REUTERS)

Iran is the greatest threat to the West. That is not a secret. It is a country that has worked for decades to undermine moderate Arab regimes in the Middle East, to develop and acquire nuclear weapons, and to arm and support some of the worst terrorist organizations known to man: Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and the Houthis in Yemen.

These prior escalations and affiliations need to be taken into consideration as world powers weigh how to make the Iranians pay a price for their recent attack on Saudi Arabia. It was one thing when Iran downed a US drone in June over the Persian Gulf and got away with it. It is another when it actively sends seven cruise missiles and 18 drones into another country to blow up an oil facility that is responsible for production of 5% of the world’s oil.

In June, US President Donald Trump reportedly ordered a retaliatory strike against Iran before backing down at the last minute, deterred by potential collateral damage and loss of life in Iran. It is no surprise that after that hesitation, Iran doubled down, launching an attack against Saudi Arabia’s Abqaiq oil facility. If it can get away with downing a US aircraft, why can’t it get away with attacking Saudi territory?

On Wednesday, Trump announced a new round of sanctions against Iran, and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the Iranian attack “an act of war.” He traveled to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday and then to the United Arab Emirates on Thursday to shore up support for a new coalition aimed at deterring the Iranians.

We understand the reluctance to launch a military response to Iran’s attack. No one in the West wants a war. But when Iran thinks it can get away with murder – literally – the situation will only go from bad to worse. On Thursday, Iran warned that a US or Saudi military strike against Iran would bring “all-out war.”

“I am making a very serious statement that we don’t want war,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif told CNN in an interview. “We don’t want to engage in a military confrontation... But we won’t blink to defend our territory.”

History shows that when Iran is not stopped, it continues aggression. In 1992, Iran bombed Israel’s embassy in Buenos Aires and then two years later attacked the AMIA Jewish community center in the same city. After Argentina tried to cover up what had happened, it was no surprise when the Iranians struck again.

The same is true today in Lebanon. The government in Beirut is held hostage by Hezbollah, a proxy directly supported and funded by Iran. Hezbollah’s missile arsenal – believed today to be more than 130,000 – is more firepower than what is in the hands of most countries in the world. Who gave it to them? Iran. Now imagine they had been made to pay a price after the first shipment of rockets and missiles, or after the second. Would Hezbollah have 130,000 like it has today? Maybe not.

Israel has single-handedly been fighting Iran along its different borders for years. Some like to think of Israel’s conflict with Hamas or Hezbollah as being against the Palestinians or Lebanese, but in reality, they are against Iran. Both groups are proxies. The hands might be foreign, but the orders are coming from Tehran.

The world cannot let Iran continue to get away with these attacks, as the time has long come for Tehran to pay a price for its violence, support of terrorism and nuclear violations.

The lesson it is learning is a bad one. If it can get away with attacking the US, attacking Saudi Arabia, and violating restrictions on its nuclear program, what will stop it from building a nuclear weapon one day and then using it against Israel or another Western country? Especially when some of their leaders have made no secret of their intentions to do just so.

Trump is understandably wary of the prospect of military conflict, as any responsible leader should be. At the same time though, Iran’s attacks cannot go unanswered. If they do Iran will not stop, and its attacks will only intensify.

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