February 4, 2011 | Commentary on Iran
The WikiLeaks release of U.S. diplomatic cables was despicable. But it did, at least, demonstrate that even Muslim leaders believe Iran is an aggressive and ongoing sponsor of terrorism, must not be allowed to obtain nuclear weapons capability and cannot be trusted.
Those who have been skeptical of similar Western claims should heed the warnings of Arab leaders on Iran's sponsorship of terrorism.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak tells us that the Iranians are "sponsors of terrorism." And Kuwait's military intelligence chief told U.S. General David Petraeus that Iran was supporting extremist groups in Yemen.
We also now know that Jordanian officials have called for the Iranian nuclear program to be stopped by any means necessary to reduce the threat of a weapons program. And officials in the United Arab Emirates and Egypt have referred to the Iranian regime as "evil," and an "existential threat." Crown Prince bin Zayed of Abu Dhabi warned the U.S. and the world against appeasing the Iranian regime, even declaring, "Ahmadinejad is Hitler."
According to one cable, King Abdullah "frequently exhorted the U.S. to attack Iran to put an end to its nuclear weapons program." The Saudi ambassador to Washington, reporting on a 2008 meeting between King Abdullah and Petraeus, revealed that King Abdullah "told you to cut off the head of the snake."
Egypt's Mubarak cautioned the U.S. to be wary of Iranian leaders as negotiating partners, because "they are big, fat liars" Saudi King Abdullah told a U.S. diplomat: "The bottom line is that they (the Iranians) cannot be trusted."
It is possible to build a bipartisan, international strategy to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons. American leaders must discard their preconceptions and develop and implement a strategy that confronts reality:
1. The vast majority of Americans want a world where political and economic freedom, human rights and cultural and social tolerance are the norm.
2. Most nations can and should be viewed as partners in advancing these goals -- provided they see consistent, common-sense and bipartisan leadership from the United States.
3. However, there are movements and governments actively opposing enlightened international relations. Their goal is to oppress other people, and they understand that achieving that vision puts them in direct conflict with United States.
4. These forces are attempting to acquire weapons of mass destruction because they understand that such weapons empower them to accomplish their goals. They will not give up those attempts unless they believe the costs of pursuing them outweigh the substantial leverage gained by acquiring weapons.
As North Korea demonstrates, rogue regimes become more aggressive when they acquire nuclear weapons. Iran will be much worse than North Korea if it acquires such weapons. Iran is the world's chief sponsor of terrorism. The leaked cables show it is not trusted by any of its neighbors, regardless of their religion or government structure. The threat can still be deterred, but the world is running out of time, and nothing will be accomplished by wishful thinking about the nature of the Iranian regime.
Jim Talent is a Distinguished Fellow at The Heritage Foundation.
First appeared in The Springfield-News Leader