March 27, 2007
By Nile Gardiner, Ph.D.
Iran's seizure of 15 British Navy personnel in Iraqi coastal
waters last Friday is a hostile act of war that should be condemned
by the UN Security Council and by the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization (NATO). It was in addition a clear violation of Iraq's
national sovereignty that should draw a firm response from the
Iran must be warned by London and Washington of the political
and military consequences that would result from a failure to
immediately release the British prisoners. The Iranians must also
be told to stop meddling in Iraq, where to all intents and purposes
Tehran is waging a proxy war against US, British and Iraqi forces.
There is growing evidence that Iranian factories run by the
Revolutionary Guard are producing lethal roadside bombs that are
killing British soldiers in southern Iraq, and as well as actively
financing and training Shia militias. The Iranians have blood on
their hands and must be held to account.
This latest act of aggression by the brutal, erratic and highly
dangerous regime of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad must not be tolerated. It
also makes a mockery of the idea, popular in diplomatic circles
that the United State should negotiate with rogue states such as
Iran and Syria in bringing about a peaceful solution to the
violence in Iraq. There can be no negotiation with terrorist
regimes that actively seek the destabilization of the country, and
facilitate the killing of Coalition forces.
Tehran's bold gambit, designed to intimidate the West at a time of
heightening tensions over Iran's nuclear program, must result in a
greater sense of resolve on the part of the United States and Great
Britain, and both powers should escalate the build-up of naval
power in the Persian Gulf. The U.S. already has two carrier battle
groups in the area, and Britain has several Royal Navy warships
operating in the region. The message should be sent loud and clear
to Tehran that actions have consequences, and that the West is
prepared to use force both to halt Iran's nuclear program and in
retaliation for hostile acts against American, British and other
In addition, London and Washington should call for a
strengthening of Security Council resolutions against Iran, to
include a complete ban on all arms sales to Tehran, as well as a
ban on travel for all officials connected to Iran's nuclear
program. There will be intense opposition from Moscow and Beijing,
both with huge financial and military interests in Iran, but every
effort must be made to give the resolutions more teeth.
In conjunction, the United States should refuse to grant the
Iranian president a visa to address the United Nations in the
coming months. The United States can and must implement a zero
tolerance policy for dictators and state sponsors of terror, who
should not be given a platform on U.S. soil. Washington should move
to isolate the Iranian regime, and deny it the oxygen of publicity
on the world stage. U.S. support must also be given to those
opposition groups inside Iran working for a free and democratic
The European Union, which accounts for 35 percent of Iran's
imports, must be pressured into cutting off all financial ties to
Iran, with penalties applied to European firms who do business with
Tehran. The EU's misguided policy of 'constructive engagement' has
been a spectacular failure, and has only strengthened Tehran's
position, and bought the Iranians valuable time in building their
nuclear program. Countries such as Germany, Italy and France must
end the huge export guarantees currently in place protecting their
companies trading with Iran. Iran should be closed for business
with the West until it ends its nuclear program and support for
global terrorism. Decades of European appeasement of Tehran has to
be brought to an end if political and economic sanctions are to be
In addition, the Iranian nuclear crisis must be a top priority
issue for NATO, and the transatlantic alliance should issue a swift
condemnation of Iran's kidnapping of British troops. NATO must also
condemn President Ahmadinejad's continuing threats to wipe Israel
off the face of the map, and give serious consideration to opening
its doors to Israel as a NATO member with a full security
guarantee. The Iranians would think twice before launching missile
strikes on Tel Aviv if faced with the prospect a war with the
world's most powerful alliance. Israel is a vital ally of the West
with an extensive history of war-fighting and a first-rate
military. Her accession to NATO would significantly enhance the
alliance's capabilities, and increase the organization's strategic
reach in the Middle East.
Iran must be stopped at all costs from acquiring nuclear
capability. If Tehran succeeds in building a nuclear weapon, which
it may do within two to five years, there can be no doubt regarding
the regime's willingness and intent to use it against Israel or
other close U.S. allies. Nor is there any doubt regarding Iran's
potential to arm a terrorist organization such as Hezbollah or al
Qaeda with nuclear material.
Iran poses the greatest threat to global security of our
generation, and the West must be ready to meet the challenge with
strength and determination. Not since the rise of Nazi Germany and
Communist Russia has the free world been faced with such a grave
danger from a state actor. While the use of force is always a last
resort, the United States, Great Britain and their allies must be
prepared to disarm the Iranian regime if it refuses to back down,
with or without the backing of the UN Security Council. To quote a
formidable former British Prime Minister, this is no time for the
Anglo-American alliance to 'go wobbly', but a time for strength and
leadership in the face of barbarism.
Nile Gardiner is
director of the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom.
First appeared in Human Events
Iran's seizure of 15 British Navy personnel in Iraqi coastal waters last Friday is a hostile act of war that should be condemned by the UN Security Council and by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). It was in addition a clear violation of Iraq's national sovereignty that should draw a firm response from the Maliki administration.
Nile Gardiner, Ph.D.
Director, Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom
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