Sunday, March 13, 2011

Ilario Pantano: Stay Focused on Iran

Ilario Pantano, a Republican candidate for Congress in North Carolina's 7th district, published this editorial criticizing the White House's garbled and ineffectual foreign policy during the latest upheavals in the Middle East.  In it, Pantano calls for a refocus on and prioritization of the Iranian problem and recommends immediate action in Iran now, before it's too late.

By Ilario Pantano
March 10, 2011
Also published at

I feel for the Libyan freedom fighters and for the Egyptians, Omanis, Yemenis and Tunisians. I fought a war to liberate Kuwaitis and then another to liberate Iraqis.  And while I believe in compassion, this is not the time for bleeding hearts but rather steely resolve and focus.

American national interest demands that the distractions be put aside and the real threat be brought front and center which is why I call on the President and the congress to use every instrument of our national power to topple the Iranian regime, today.  This is our last best chance to stop Iran with only limited military intervention. Libya, Egypt, Yemen and Bahrain are afterthoughts compared to the menace of the Iranian regime on the verge of going nuclear.

I agree fully with Ari Shavit as he wrote in Haaretz that the US should direct the mideast storm of change towards Iran. "Take the Google, Facebook and Twitter revolts and bring them to the Ayatollahs. Topple Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's tyranny as you toppled Hosni Mubarak's."

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's decisions to meet with the Libyan resistance misses the mark. If there was to be a no fly zone anywhere in the world, it should be over Tehran, not Tripoli.  While the U.S. sluggishly works to tamp out flames, the Iranians nimbly jump from place to place with matches (and money).  It is time for the U.S. to start a controlled burn of our own and retake the initiative.
Let me be blunt: Not one additional American dollar nor one additional American life should be risked in the Middle East unless it is part of a bold grand strategy to topple the mullahs and stop Iranian nuclear weapon development, cold.

The facts of the case are simple.  Iran is dangerously close to becoming a nuclear power and as such will threaten the Middle East, Europe and beyond. The Stuxnet virus, which has temporarily slowed Iran's centrifuge progress and delayed uranium enrichment is a blessing, but it only offers a brief pause.
Furthermore, what little is left of Iranian credibility is damaged by the recent revelation that a 62-year old American citizen has been held in secret captivity for the past three years.  What leader could possibly trust a government that publicly and privately conspires to kill our citizens as Iran has done in both Iraq and Afghanistan?

Sanctions did not work with Korea and will not work with Iran, especially not with $100-a-barrel crude. Holding the presidency of OPEC, Iran has once again put a gun to western temples as evidenced by Iranian OPEC governor Mohammad Ali Khatibi telling Reuters: "There is no need for OPEC to boost oil production because consumer worries over supply are mostly "psychological." With the threat of $120-crude the mullahs hold the global economic recovery hostage.
Additionally, the 2010 Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act (CISADA) is being flagrantly violated by Venezuela, but the Obama administration's restrictive domestic energy policy has made us reluctant to challenge Chavez.

Iran and its proxies are actively working to destabilize the region and are thus far the biggest beneficiaries of this "Arab Spring." Secretary Clinton rang the alarm bell last week when she told senators that Iran has made efforts to "influence events" and coordinate with opposition movements in Egypt, Bahrain and Yemen through their proxies, such as Hezbollah and Hamas.

"So either directly or through proxies, they are constantly trying to influence events," she said.  Meanwhile Iranian warships staged a show of force in the Mediterranean for the first time since 1979. For the Ayatollahs, it's morning in Iran, but for the free world it is two minutes to midnight.

The Iranian people are seething and are ripe for revolution. They just need some help and confidence that America will support them.  President Obama blinked and missed his window in 2009 when Tehran exploded and he chose to "evaluate" the situation.
Young beautiful 27-year old Neda was shot dead on the street. The world was mesmerized by the tragedy and brutality of the mullah's crackdown. The White House whimpered.  "It took only one bullet to kill Neda. It will take only one Neda to stop Iranian tyranny," was one posting from an Iranian on Twitter.

Why did we let that opportunity slip away, and why are we letting this one go too? Why have we not used our electronic warfare capability to rebroadcast the video of blood flowing from Neda's nose and mouth to every single Iranian home and computer? Every single Iranian radio should have a message of hope and resistance and a call for release of jailed activists.

And while I firmly believe the wiki-leaks disclosures have been a traitorous attack on our national security, there are two revelations that further hasten the call for action on Iran: apparently the Middle East, or what's left of it, is as sickened and frightened by the mullahs in Tehran as we are and would likely be supportive of U.S. efforts.

Iran has been working with Al-Qaeda.  Collaboration of Sunni Al-Qaeda and Iranian Shiias is particularly alarming for those of us that have witnessed the carnage of sectarian violence first hand. The Iranian connection to Al-Qaeda has been independently verified in New York Times' reports and in Marc Thiessen's book Courting Disaster in which he names Mustafa Hamid as Al Qaeda's " emir" in Iran and chief liaison with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Abu Dhahak al Yemeni as Al Qaeda's logistical chief in Iran. 
Now is the time for Congressional leaders to stand up and speak out.Now is the time to be bold, not later when Iran holds Europe hostage with a nuclear menace.  This may be our last best chance to stop Iranian nuclear ambition without igniting a broader regional war.

We can help the Iranians do it for themselves or at much greater cost in lives and treasure we will eventually do it for them.  Dealing with Iran is going to hurt, the only question is when and how much.