June 3, 2009

June 3, 2009 | Commentary on Middle East, Terrorism

Iran: Elephant in the Room

Unfortunately, President Obama is likely to use this week's visits to Saudi Arabia and Egypt as stops on his Apology World Tour, repudiating Bush-era Middle East and War on Terror policies.

Instead of creating perceptions of weakness -- which would only invite more provocations and attacks -- he should rally Arab states to take a strong stand against the Iranian threat. It's one thing on which we can all agree.

Obama's Iran policy has amounted to little more than rhetoric and wait-and-see diplomacy -- all while Tehran launches missiles and enriches uranium.

If trends continue, a North Korean-style nuclear moment is in our future.

The Arab world is concerned not only about the prospect of nuclear-armed Iranian ballistic missiles but about how this could lead to Iranian hegemony in the Mideast.

Iran's recent deployment of warships to the Arabian Sea for supposed anti-piracy operations was a message heard loud and clear by Tehran's neighbors, especially rival Riyadh.

This trip gives Obama a bully pulpit, and he should make the most of it, pulling the Arabs together to deal with this common threat.

In fact, containing (or, even better, rolling back) the Iranian juggernaut would help the Palestinian-Israeli situation by removing Iran -- and its henchmen Hezbollah, Hamas and Syria -- as Israel's short-term focus.

Israel, naturally, is drawing a bead on the wolf closest to the sled -- the existential threat posed by Iranian nukes and missiles.

More of Obama's feel-good, blame-America-first speechifying will do little to help dissuade Islamist terrorists from their deadly ways. Instead, it will make America look like a paper tiger -- just like Osama bin Laden said.

It'd be better if the president focused on something on which we, the Arabs and the Israelis can agree -- defanging the Iranian terrorist, nuclear and missile threat to the region and beyond.

Peter Brookes is senior fellow for National Security Affairs in the Davis Institute at The Heritage Foundation.

About the Author

Peter Brookes Senior Fellow, National Security Affairs
Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign and National Security Policy

Related Issues: Middle East, Terrorism

First appeared in the New York Post