Brief overview of issue area
Decades of appeasement in the Middle East have led to increasing contempt for the U.S. September 11, 2001 was the climax. According to the State Department, Iran is “the most active state sponsor of terrorism.” [ii] U.S. appeasement has led to an escalation in violence. Further appeasement will only lead to more violence, with the possibility of a CBRN attack. U.S. security is at stake. The risk of overreacting is negligible compared to the risk of underreacting. The U.S. must choose between Iranian and U.S. lives, between Iranian or U.S. security.
Overview of existing policy(ies) or policy discussions
When 241 U.S. marines were slaughtered in Lebanon in 1983, Reagan not only failed to retaliate, but he also armed and trained bin Laden and his cohorts in Afghanistan, effectively creating terrorists who, emboldened, turned to the U.S. after defeating the Soviets. When two U.S. embassies in East Africa were attacked by al-Qaeda in 1998, Clinton responded by bombing two meaningless targets. When nineteen U.S. soldiers were killed in their barracks in Saudi Arabia in 1999, Clinton evaded evidence that Iran sponsored the attack while the U.S. and Saudi Arabia pursued improved bilateral relations with Tehran.[iii] When al-Qaeda attacked the U.S. homeland on September 11, 2001, Bush responded by invading Afghanistan and Iraq. While retaliation against Afghanistan is understandable, invading Iraq is less so. Also, in the context of ending terrorism, Afghanistan and Iraq are insignificant. Furthermore, to end terrorism, decisive military action is needed.
Pros and cons of existing policy(ies) or policy discussions
Preventing all terrorist attacks is impossible. It is logistically and technologically unfeasible to check every piece of baggage and cargo on every flight. New technology to detect weapons is just another hurdle terrorists will eventually overcome with the financial backing of states like Iran. Even identifying terrorists is of no avail when states like Pakistan or Iran are willing to hide and train them and their cohorts. Bush and Obama have consistently downplayed the role the U.S. military should play in ending terrorism, while praising the failed policies of negotiation and economic sanctions that have so utterly failed to produce results for so long. Instead of striking at the root of global terrorism, they seem to be settling for a guerrilla war against al-Qaeda, and a policy of passively replacing the Taliban and Saddam Hussein with motley coalitions. These policies have left terrorists and their state sponsors unscathed – and unafraid.
Proposed new policy
To put an end to terrorism, the U.S. must publicly reverse its ineffective policies and take decisive military action against terrorism and its sponsors. The U.S. has abundant evidence as to which countries are responsible. Now it is time to move beyond verbal reprimands and imposing toothless economic sanctions. The U.S. must retaliate in earnest by launching a real war against terrorism via its state sponsors.
- The President must announce a U.S. policy change to the world on TV.
- He must issue an ultimatum to Iran, giving them a reasonable period of time to dismantle their entire military, including regular and irregular forces and those dedicated to terrorist training, or else suffer a massive U.S. military incursion.
- When the deadline expires, the President must appear again on TV again, and announce a decisive U.S. missile attack against every strategic target in Tehran.
- One such attack should be enough to show the world that the U.S. is no longer a paper tiger. Otherwise, Islamabad, would receive the same ultimatum as Tehran.
Arguments about why this policy should be adopted and what weaknesses in existing policy it addresses.
Only when state sponsors of terrorism have incurred the full brunt of U.S. military might will they reverse their policies, leaving the U.S. safe from terrorism. Terrorist activities are not crimes, but acts of war made possible by state sponsors. The proper response to terrorism is a no-holds-barred war of self-defense to “end states who sponsor terrorism.”[iv]
The U.S. must avail itself of its entire arsenal, including its nuclear arsenal,[v] if necessary. And it must fight for a swift victory with the fewest U.S. casualties, regardless of enemy casualties.
Once Iran’s military capability and terrorist sanctuaries have been eliminated, the U.S. must dismantle Iran’s government piece by piece, expelling every official in it. This will necessitate a ground troop invasion and a brief occupation, but is guaranteed to bring an end to Iran’s state sponsorship of terrorism. Furthermore, it is also guaranteed to end all other state sponsorship of terrorism, as no state would dare sponsor terrorism under this policy. The U.S. faces a choice: Either it ends state sponsorship of terrorism with a decisive military victory, or it continues to face a sustained and growing terrorist threat.
[i] Based on two articles by Leonard Peikoff of the Ayn Rand Institute from 1996 and 2001
[ii] A State Department report of 1999
[iii] A front-page New York Times article by Phillip Shenon and David Johnston of 6/21/98
[iv] Deputy Secy. of Defense Paul Wolfowitz in a statement in response to the 9/11 attacks
[v] Defense Secy. Donald Rumsfeld at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing