TIP In the News

TIP CEO Column in Star Ledger

- March 28, 2015

Obama placing faith in untrustworthy adversary by holding nuclear talks with Iran

By Joshua S. Block
New Jersey Star-Ledger Guest Columnist
March 28, 2015

Read the full article at http://www.nj.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/03/obama_placing_faith_in_untrustworthy_adversary_in.html

 

Good relationships are built upon a foundation of trust and persevere through disagreements. As the Obama Administration lunges clumsily toward claiming a foreign policy legacy based on a dangerous nuclear accord with the Islamic Republic of Iran, the White House should think carefully about who we trust and who we don't trust. Instead of insisting that Iran change its deceitful and dangerous behavior, the White House is focused on achieving a deal at any cost. Maybe it's time to think about who has proven worthy of our trust, and who hasn't earned it.

 

For decades, America's national security interests have dovetailed nicely with Israel's. And Israel's intelligence-sharing, technological innovation and cutting-edge counter-terrorism strategies have helped advance our mutual interests. Likewise, the United States has played an instrumental role in ensuring Israel's survival in such a dangerous neighborhood. As the U.S. and Israel have worked together to overcome great challenges, one nation has spent decades creating new threats and pursuing interests counter to our own. That nation, the Islamic Republic of Iran, has long been viewed as an adversary.

 

Now, as the Obama Administration is negotiating with our adversary while questioning our relationship with our closest ally in the Middle East, we must ask ourselves who we trust and why.

 

As the leader of the United States of America, President Obama has tremendous responsibility to make the right choice. Choosing to place trust in Iran would be a bold move. It would also be short-sighted and wrong. Iran provides financial and operational aid to Hamas and Hezbollah, provides military assistance to ruthless regimes in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, and encourages terrorism around the world, including against our own citizens.

 

Let's be clear - Israel is not the one funding anti-American terrorist groups worldwide - that's Iran. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was not leading chants of "death to America" last week - that was Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, in Tehran. Israel's navy did not destroy a replica of the USS Nimitz in naval drills this February - the Iranian navy did. Israel does not have a long established record of supporting terror attacks - again, Iran earns this honor. And it is not Israel that brutally stones women to death; it is Iran that bullies its own citizens in this manner.

 

President Obama has blurred the lines between how we treat friends, and how we treat terrorists.

This past February, AP reported that the Iranian Republican Guard's naval chief, Adm. Ali Fadavi discussed the "Great Prophet 9" following naval drills in the Strait of Hormuz explaining that, "the new weapon will have a very decisive role in adding our naval power in confronting threats, particular by the Great Satan, the United States." Indeed, Iran's leaders are notorious for espousing their anti-American, anti-Western and anti-Israel hatred. Last August, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, said that Iran will cooperate with anyone, "with two exceptions: the Zionist regime and the U.S."

 

In President Obama's haste to claim a nuclear agreement with Iran as a legacy of his foreign policy accomplishments, it seems that he is attempting to diminish the credibility of anyone who stands in his way. But he is aiming at the wrong target.

 

The time has come for President Obama to set aside any personal issues he has with Prime Minister Netanyahu and remember that Israel has earned the trust of the United States, and remember that Iran has not. Tehran seems perfectly happy to ride this wave of unearned trust all the way to nuclear weapons. We must not allow this to happen.

 

No deal with Iran is better than a bad deal with this untrustworthy regime known for stonewalling inspections of its nuclear facilities and hiding clandestine underground nuclear plants. Iran could change; the regime could abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons and stop funding terrorism throughout the world. But until the unelected mullahs decide to change, there is no reason to give up on sanctions.

 

President Obama has blurred the lines between how we treat friends, and how we treat terrorists. And with the impending deadline for diplomatic talks between Iran and the P5+1, time is running out as Iran ploughs ahead with its nuclear ambition. When negotiating America's national security interests, we should stand with our allies like Israel, not our adversaries, like one of the world's leading human rights abusers in Iran.

 

Joshua S. Block is President and CEO of The Israel Project.