Iran's President Ahmadinejad was selling tyranny on a tour of Latin America last week, visiting his strategic allies in Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Ecuador. He's wasn't vacationing; he was talking about how to defeat the United States. Iran is organizing a Latin terror network, assembling weapons, including missiles that can hit us, exploring for uranium for its nuclear weapons program, and using Latin American banks, ships, and ports to avoid sanctions, launder money, and transport narcotics.
Ahmadinejad’s five-day trip underscores the alliance that Iran has made with drug cartels, money laundering companies, terrorist organizations, and radical Islamists on our southern border. Iran is building clandestine intelligence and terrorist networks in Latin America. Iran wants the ability to attack U.S. interests in the region as well as the U.S. itself. It wants to blackmail us, to keep us from launching a military attack against Iran's nuclear program or to defend Israel or our other allies in the event of an Iranian attack on them or their interests.
The Iranian regime's growing influence in parts of Latin America is one more example of President Obama’s failure to lead from the front, from behind, or from any direction at all. The Iranian regime is in the process of developing a nuclear weapon. The UN Security Council has passed four rounds of sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, none of which have stopped Iran's continued enrichment of uranium at a new underground bunker facility, which Britain, France, Germany and the United States brought to the UN Security Council this week. The European Union, Japan, India and the United States have individual sanctions against Iran, all to no effect. The Tehran government has threatened to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz oil shipping lane. It continues to murder and maim our soldiers and Marines in Afghanistan as it has done in Iraq, Lebanon, Germany, and other places around the world. It kidnaps American citizens with impunity. It was planning a terrorist attack against the John F. Kennedy airport in New York in 2007 with a cell of Shia Muslims from Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago who after their arrest, admitted they were in contact with the former Iranian diplomat previously accused of participating in a murderous attack against the Jewish community center in Argentina. An Iranian agent connected to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Al-Quds Force hired Mexican hit-men to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. recently. The evidence demonstrates the involvement of high ranking Iranian officials in the plot.
Talking, negotiating, sanctions, and UN votes will not stop the Iranian regime in its desire to defeat us. The Iranian regime is not vulnerable to President Obama's charms. It is long past time for our government to help the anti-regime Iranian people, to speak clearly and loudly with all our allies against the regime, to name and shame individuals like foreign nuclear scientists as well as technology, insurance, shipping, construction and energy companies who do business in Iran, helping the Iranian regime in its quest for domination.
The Washington Post editorialists, writing about the Iranians’ feverish efforts to construct atomic weapons, put it very bluntly. “By now,” they wrote, “it should be obvious that only regime change will stop the Iranian nuclear program.”
True. And only regime change will stop the Iranian war against America. Only regime change will bring an end to the mullahs’ killing of Americans. The Post thinks that sanctions can help, provided they are serious sanctions that strike at the heart of Iran’s financial system. I support the sanctions, but I doubt that they will be enough. We have a more powerful weapon to aim at the Islamic Dictatorship of Iran: the Iranian people.
It is time to use it.
There can be no doubt that the Iranian people want to change their regime. Less than two years ago, millions of them took to the streets to protest against election fraud, and to call for an end to the Islamic dictatorship. Unlike so many of the uprisings in the Muslim world, the overwhelming majority of Iranians do not want a radical jihadist regime; they want a separation of mosque and state, and they want the mullahs in the mosques.
Of all the opposition movements in the Muslim Middle East, the Iranian one is the closest to us, the one that clearly wants to be part of the Western world.
Why, then, is the Iranian opposition movement the only one that has not been explicitly endorsed by our government? Why do the president and the secretary of state continue to talk about reaching agreement with the Tehran regime? Why does the president not say that Iran’s tyrannical leaders must go? If Qadaffi had to go, and Mubarak had to go, and Assad must go, why not the Iranian terror masters?
There’s a handy American roadmap for anyone who wants to get from here to there. It was drawn up by Ronald Reagan to accomplish regime change in Moscow. Here’s how to do it:
--First, tell the truth, tell it often, tell it everywhere. The truth is that Iran is in the clutches of evil people who kill Iranians and Americans every day, and who will kill even more if and when they get atomic bombs and warheads;
The truth is that we have tried to reach some sort of reasonable agreement with them for more than thirty years, but they don’t want it. They want to destroy us; What do you think they mean when they chant “Death to America!”?
--Second, our leaders and representatives must support political prisoners in those dreadful Iranian prisons, and call for their release. When our diplomats attend international conferences, they should have lists of the victims of the regime, and read those lists. It is harder for totalitarian regimes to kill people with names and faces than to slaughter faceless victims;
--Third, we should broadcast the truth, and our support, to the Iranian people. They need to know that we are with them, and they need to know what’s going on inside their own country.
--Fourth, we have to make it easier for the leaders of the Iranian opposition to talk to each other, to plan future steps. In the Cold War, the fax machine was a subversive force. Today, cell phones, computers and other such devices can play a similar role. But the Iranians, with help from their Chinese friends, and, alas, from Western companies, have gotten very good at listening to those communications and locating the people on those networks. We have the skills to outwit the oppressors, and we should make sure the Iranian freedom forces have the same skills and technologies;
--Fifth, Iranian workers need to have the chance to fight for their rights—many of them have not been paid for many months. Their leaders have been tortured for years. They have to be able to go on strike. They need a strike fund so they can walk out of the factories and away from the oil fields, and have enough resources to feed their families;
--Finally, we have to track down the killers of Americans and bring them to justice. To be sure, we are doing some of this, but it isn’t vigorous enough. Those who kill Americans are not entitled to a safe haven in Iran. We know where they are trained and armed. We should go after those targets;
I hope and believe that there is still time for regime change before we reach the terrible choice famously framed by French President Nicholas Sarkozy: Iran with the bomb, or bomb Iran. We do not want to face that choice. If we had been smarter over the past three decades, we would not be so close to facing it. We may well have time to bring down the Iranian tyranny, and be able to work with a Persian ally instead of contemplating terrible options to deal with the current Persian enemy.
Rick Santorum is the author of the Iran Freedom & Support Act, which imposed sanctions on Iran and authorized funding for pro-democracy movements within Iran. This past November, Rick Santorum outlined a clear plan to deal with Iran and their nuclear ambitions. To learn more about the Santorum Plan: see http://www.ricksantorum.com/response-iran He is seeking the Republican nomination for president