We know the world changed on 9/11, but we didn't think it would change again so soon. With the news that Iran is literally weeks away from becoming a nuclear power, the game has changed once again.
A little over 5 years ago during an interview on Meet the Press, the late Tim Russert asked me what was the greatest threat to American security. We had been at war in Afghanistan for nearly five years and at war in Iraq for over three. Thousands of our bravest had already given what Lincoln poignantly described as the “last full measure of devotion.”
Yet there I sat, making the case Iran poses the greatest threat to our security.
I said ‘Iran’ because they have been at war with America since 1979. Iran has been a leading funder of Hezbollah – who is the provider of the most deadly weapon used against our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, Improvised Explosive Devices or I.E.D’s – and complicit in the training of al-Qaeda. Most recently, it was uncovered that Iran sought to assassinate the Saudi ambassador on U.S. soil – an unprecedented power play directed at becoming the preeminent Middle East power while at the same time showing complete disdain and disregard for – what they call, “the Great Satan” – America.
The parallels between 1980’s Soviet Union aggression and the aggression of this Iran are shockingly similar: an aggressive, expansionist ideology; projecting regional power and causing military mischief; creating alignments in our hemisphere, including support of militant and terror organizations that can penetrate our homeland.
However, there are almost no parallels between how we dealt with the Soviet Union and how we need to deal with Iran. Reason being, mutually assured destruction worked to keep the cold war cold. Russia was an atheistic enemy who didn’t believe in an afterlife. In this case, history proves self destruction is no deterrent for Iran. In fact, the Islamists ruling Iran view dying for its cause will be rewarded in the afterlife.
There are those in Iran’s ruling elite who use religious theology as justification for building a nuclear weapon. Some even believe that bringing about great worldly chaos that would certainly occur with the destruction of Israel, would usher in the rule of the 12th Imam – or Islamic religious Savior. This week’s report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) now shows that these radical Islamists are on the verge of having a nuclear weapon that could allow them to do just that.
The most tragic part is we could have avoided this escalation.
While in the senate serving on the Armed Services Committee, I warned repeatedly of the threat that a nuclear Iran would be, and urged steps to avoid it becoming one. As the IAEA’s report indicates, my predictions were unfortunately right.