A Stark Reminder

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As the attention of much of the United States has been primarily focused, due to today’s elections, on domestic issues, as well as on the sardonic Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert non-rally-rally on the National Mall, the foreign policy stage remains deadly serious. Yet, we as a nation have lost our focus.

First and foremost: Last Tuesday, Iran began loading rods of enriched uranium into its nuclear reactor in Bushehr. As of this past Saturday (October 30th), the project manager of the reactor, Mahmoud Jafari, said that Iran had just loaded its 40th fuel rod, and will continue to inject nuclear rods into the core of its nuclear plant.

Ali Akhbar Salahi, head of the Atomic Agency Organization of Iran, said during a press conference last week that he hopes to have accomplished the loading of all 163 of the rods at the Bushehr nuclear plant in approximately two months.

While we in the West are yawning and looking the other way, it appears that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinajad — the demagogic Shiite ideologue, who is flexing his muscles to attain Iranian-Shiite hegemony over the region, while he is denying the Holocaust — is well on his way to producing another Holocaust.

Meanwhile, in a horrific example of how poorly the White House understands how to deal with maniacal leaders such as Ahmadinajad, the Obama administration has just invited Iran, once again, to resume diplomatic negotiations.  Remember that during his presidential campaign, then-candidate Barack Obama said that the diplomatic option would be on the table for a limited time.

While governments in the West are groveling, Neville Chamberlain-like, for an opportunity to recommence a dialogue with Iran, Ahmadinajad and his very deft diplomatic team are treating us with contempt. In a September 27th speech in the Southern Khuzestan province, Ahmadinajad called the existence of the United States “shameful,” and said that “the world expects capitalist thought to disappear soon.” He also called upon imams to prepare themselves for “the coming of the 12th imam,” the apocalyptic scenario that sees the coming of “the end of days” in which Shiite Muslims will rule the world. In a fellow-up speech the next day, Ahmadinajad bragged, “Iran is the only country that continues to express doubts on the continued existence of the United States.”

Meanwhile, within Iran, many of the beautiful, freedom-loving dissidents of the Green Revolution have summarily disappeared from the streets, never to be seen or heard from again. While our nation is begging for a meeting with a human rights thug, Ahmadinajad, no one is drawing attention to the dissidents’ sorry fate. Iran has emerged as the biggest bully in the Middle East, and all the freedom-loving democratic activists throughout the region are scampering into the woodwork, for fear of their very lives.

A few short years ago, the streets of Beirut, Lebanon, were filled with the courageous, hopeful faces of young, freedom-loving dissidents of the March 14th Revolution (the Cedar Revolution of 2005). These people had been bound together by the tragic assassination of their nation’s leader, Rafiq Hariri.

Today, Lebanon’s army has been almost, if not- entirely, overtaken by the Iranian-backed army of Hezbollah. The results of a United Nations tribunal regarding the assassination of Rafiq Hariri are ready to be released, and it has been rumored that the report implicates Hezbollah. However, Said Hariri, Rafiq’s son and the current prime minister, has been warned that if he ever lets the result of this investigation be made public, he will suffer the same fate as his father.

Syria has redoubled its efforts to be part of the Iranian axis of evil. During the heady days of the Cedar Revolution, we saw Syrian troops finally withdraw from Lebanon, something I had been working on doggedly for years, since helping to garner sponsors for the Syria Accountability Act in 2003.

Now we are seeing Syria, once again, very much a part of the fabric of the Iranian Hezbollah network, sponsoring and training its 10,000 soldiers in Southern Lebanon and helping to deliver its 40,000-missile arsenal as Hezbollah prepares to launch the next war. Syria also is stepping up its presence in Iraq, hoping to kill American soldiers. The government of Bashir Assad is also laughing at America’s obsequious attempts at engagement and moderation as Syria deepens its relationship with both Hezbollah and Hamas.

I have often compared the Middle East to my first residence in New York. Only after my husband and I signed the lease did we realize that it had a cockroach issue. We worked assiduously each day, scrubbing and spraying our can of Raid, to get rid of every single one of them (or so we hoped) before going to sleep each night. Then, the next morning, we would creep into the kitchen and flick on the lights, only to see the cockroaches scampering back into the woodwork.

When Israel is strong, it is like that can of Raid, getting rid of all of the primitive, anti-Semitic cockroaches and helping to bring to the fore the democracy embracing dissidents. Part of its power, however,  derives from the backing of a strong relationship with the world’s sole superpower,  America, which acts like that light in the kitchen.  As Justice Louis Brandeis used to say, “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”
Right now, while Israel has been experiencing an unprecedented chill in relations from the White House, I am sorry to report that all of the primordial, Middle Eastern tyrants and thugs are scampering out of the woodwork at once, setting back the pro-democracy movement there, decades.

All of this, while Iran continues on its lethal path and publicly flexes its muscles, while the civilized world yawns.

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About the Author

Sarah Stern
Sarah Stern is founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET).

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