At a summit on Oct. 13 with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayid, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed frustration with Iran about its unlikelihood of returning to diplomacy, and that “we will look at every option to deal with the challenge posed by Iran.”
That very same day at the Carnegie Institute for International Peace, U.S. Special Envoy to Iran Robert Malley said “the United States and its allies should get used to an Iran with nuclear weapons.”
Will the real U.S. policy under President Joe Biden please stand up? Is it Malley’s unconditional surrender to an Iran with nuclear capability? Or is it Blinken’s “exploring other options”? Are they just playing a game of “good cop/bad cop”? Or, even worse, are they just running out the clock? What is America’s “Plan B” in regards to Iran? Does the administration know?
It is has been made abundantly clear by our feckless withdrawal from Afghanistan that the Biden administration has no appetite for any further military engagement, certainly not in the Middle East. If there were any sort of military engagement anywhere, it would be in the Asian Pacific Theater.
In an excellent article in Foreign Policy, John Hannah, former National Security Advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney, wrote: “There’s a reason for Blinken’s vagueness. The chances that President Joe Biden will order the U.S. military to attack Iran to stop it from becoming a nuclear-weapons state borders on zero. It would mean going to war against a lethal adversary—a country of 85 million whose Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps wields an arsenal of advanced missiles and drones, naval forces and terrorist proxies capable of inflicting widespread damage on U.S. interests. Indeed, a full-on confrontation with Iran would make the recent U.S. experience fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan seem like child’s play in comparison.”
He concluded, “Should force be required to stop an Iranian bomb, the job will certainly fall to Israel, the only country that combines the will and military capacity needed.”
So, this colossal job seems to rest on the shoulders of the tiny country of Israel. A job like this takes both capability and will. America lacks the will. Israel has the will, but does it have the capability?
Iran is a huge country of 636,400 square miles. Its topography is complex, dotted with rugged mountain ranges, replete with settings to conceal nuclear devices. Israel is a country of approximately 8,550 square miles with most of its population and commercial centers clustered around the coast.
The stakes for Israel are extremely high, not the least of which are the 150,000 missiles on Israel’s northern border in Lebanon at the hands of Hezbollah, some of which have been converted into precision-guided munitions. They can easily pinpoint and topple specific sites that are vital to Israel’s infrastructure and continual existence.
The sheer number of missiles, if launched simultaneously, could be enough to overwhelm Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system.
What is America’s “Plan B”? Returning to economic sanctions?
We know that a theocratic regime that believes in the coming of the 12th imam will not care a hoot about economic sanctions. They also have very little regard for the survival of their own people. As Iranian President Akbar Rafsanjani once pointed out, “Iran is willing to sacrifice a million of our people for our nuclear program.”
Here in the United States, we are in complete denial if we believe that the Iranian nuclear threat is just about the Jewish state. Iran has been in the business of deeply expanding its hegemonic empire into the Western hemisphere and replicating the pincer grasp it has established around Israel, right here under our noses.
If the United States feels that we are immune from an Iranian nuclear threat, they should look no further than the 20-year cooperation accord that Venezuelan President Nicholás Maduro is planning on signing with the Islamic Republic of Iran—not to mention the tri-border hub in South America of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, which are heavily immersed in Hezbollah-backed “businesses” of narcoterrorism and money-laundering under the sponsorship of Iran. For many years, Iran has been in the rapidly expanding business of creating “cultural centers” there, taking recruits on free trips to Iran and converting people in droves to Shi’ite Islam.
What sort of planet are we bequeathing to our children and grandchildren if we are willfully blinding ourselves to the profound evil that Iran represents and leaving it to Israel to go it alone against Iran?
Iran is a morally bankrupt state with one of the worst human-rights records in the world. This includes the arbitrary arrest and torture of anyone with whom the regime disagrees, including children.
As the late Noble prize-winning physicist and Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov famously stated, “If you would like to know a country’s foreign policy, look at the way they treat their own dissident population.”
We do this at our very own peril. What is it about “Death to America?” that Iranians routinely chant in the mosques every Friday that we fail to understand?
Have we in America totally lost our moral compass, delegating our responsibility to the world to the tiny nation of Israel? Is that, when we are being totally honest, what America’s “Plan B” amounts to?
Sarah N. Stern is founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), a pro-Israel and pro-American think tank and policy institute in Washington, D.C.