Thursday, July 31, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

The Elephant in the Room: Obama's failing Iran policy

The president stiffs the pro-democracy movement and boosts Ahmadinejad.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (left) and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. (AP Photos)
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (left) and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. (AP Photos)

Who says campaigns are mere exercises in the politics of personal destruction?

Take my last ad against Bob Casey in our 2006 Senate race. An Iraq war veteran spoke into the camera, demanding that the then-state treasurer stop investing state funds in corporations doing business with our enemies - enemies like Iran.

Last week on this page, Sens. Casey and Republican Sam Brownback wrote in support of a federal law to encourage state treasurers to do just that with respect to Iran.

I support Casey's legislation and President Obama's recent call for tougher Iran sanctions. Both, however, appear to be too little too late to halt Iran's weapons program.

That was not the case in the spring of 2006, when I tried to amend that year's defense bill with legislation I first introduced in July 2004. The "Iran Freedom and Support Act" imposed tough economic sanctions and, more important, authorized money to support Iran's pro-democracy movement.

Since this bill had 60 cosponsors, including 23 Democrats, it had a good chance of success. However, that spring the Bush administration was engaged with our European allies in negotiations to convince Iran to abandon its nuclear program - sound familiar?

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice thought the timing of my amendment would send the wrong signal. I countered that its passage would help the "negotiations" by showing that Congress was even more serious about stopping Iran's nuclear program than President George W. Bush.

The White House pledged to remain neutral on my amendment, but Sen. Joe Biden didn't - he blocked a vote on it for a week. Then, late one evening, we learned he was prepared to vote the next morning.

Biden began the debate by holding up a letter delivered that day from Rice opposing my amendment. Some neutrality! With Biden and then-Sen. Obama both voting no, the amendment failed, 46-to-53.

Negotiations with Iran collapsed that summer. By October, Biden and the administration's opposition did, too, and most of the provisions were enacted into law a few weeks before the election.

In the end, however, neither Bush nor Obama implemented the most important provision. Neither spent the $75 million to foment the pro-democracy movement, because U.S. intelligence has been advising for decades that there was no such thing in Iran. My take: The CIA can't find a leader in waiting we could control.

As we saw this summer, there are plenty of pro-democracy Iranians who will sacrifice everything to topple their corrupt leaders. Yet instead of coming to their aid, Obama validated the America-hating regime's rigged election of the totalitarian theocrat Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as freedom-seeking revolutionaries were gunned down in the streets.

Obama's Iran plan? Stiff the revolutionaries and our allies Poland and the Czech Republic on missile defense, thus giving the Russians an iron fist over Eastern Europe in exchange for Russia's help in forcing Iran to stand down its nuclear program. Russia's response? Thanks for standing by our ally President Ahmadinejad and backing down on missile defense, and no thanks on pressuring Iran.

Without Russia and, in all likelihood China, the president has three unenviable options: Accept a nuclear Iran; deal with the consequences of an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities and Iran's retaliatory attacks; or begin publicly supporting the freedom-seeking revolutionaries on the streets and rooftops in Iran and quietly funding and equipping students, moderate clerics, labor unions, and the real opposition leaders.

It has been 30 years since President Jimmy Carter's passive assent gave birth to a tyrannical anti-American regime that has spawned radical Islamic terrorism around the globe. Now, Obama's acquiescence will either give this supermarket to the world's terrorists a high-end line of nuclear weapons to purvey at what I am sure will be bargain prices, or force an Iran/Israel war.

Thanks to Obama's policy decisions, the Russians and Iranians are emboldened and feeling safer. How about you?

 


Rick Santorum can be contacted at rsantorum@phillynews.com.

 

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