By Rep. Trent Franks, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ) is a senior member of the Armed Services Committee. The views expressed are his own.
Oh to be a fly on the wall when the U.S. president and Israeli prime minister met to discuss Iran.
In recent weeks, much talk has been tossed around about a new, moderate Iranian leader and the potential for deals to be made on the nuclear front. Some pundits have likened this approach to trusting a wolf in sheep's clothing; I'd say we're looking at a nuke wrapped in cashmere.
Less than six days after giving a speech in front of the U.N. that seemed to reinforce the naïve and misinformed belief that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani represents a shift away from the radical nature of past Iranian regimes, President Obama then met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Of the dozens to choose from, I wonder which of Iran's international violations the two leaders discussed first.
The Obama administration has a long record of misjudging foreign policy realities. This shortsightedness has led to numerous failures – among them Egypt, Libya, Benghazi, and, most recently, Syria – that have cost innocent lives, compromised the United States' position in the world, and threatened our own national security and that of our allies. We must achieve a better result in our policies with Iran.
We should be very clear, very firm and very accurate in our expectations with Iran. As these talks progress, we must also keep our facts straight and our memories sharp: Rouhani was instrumental in furthering the very nuclear program with which Iran seeks to threaten the world, and has repeated the former regime’s threatening language, including when he called Israel “a wound that has sat on the Muslim world for years and needs to be removed.”
I wonder if Prime Minister Netanyahu reminded President Obama of these threatening remarks.
The popular American view of late has been to embrace Iranian openness and reward their willingness to negotiate – sanctions already seem to be up for discussion as leverage for the administration. But we know International Atomic Energy Agency declarations have gone unanswered by this regime and diplomatic efforts, including ten rounds of negotiation since 2011, have borne no fruit. Decades have passed without a single concession from the world’s leading sponsor of terror. In 2005, we saw North Korea, another rogue nation, petition for “talks” about ending their nuclear weapons program, demanding U.S. concessions. How did they hold up their end of that bargain? A few short months ago they conducted their third flagrant nuclear weapons test.
I wonder if President Obama hinted at the possibility of a peaceful Iranian nuclear program, and if Prime Minister Netanyahu was able to keep from rolling his eyes.
While we certainly hope for a peaceful path forward paved with diplomatic solutions, any negotiations at this stage must be backed by a credible threat of military force to be effective. Iran’s negotiating intentions have a clear goal: to sell-off sanctions. In doing so, I believe Rouhani’s regime hopes to buy more time to secure a return on their nefarious nuclear investments. Iran knows its position stands to be emboldened by negotiations with the United States, since the country possesses the knowledge, technical expertise and equipment needed to build a nuclear weapon.
We cannot fail in our resolve to prevent an Iranian nuclear weapons program from coming to fruition; the stakes are simply too high. I hope Prime Minister Netanyahu had the opportunity to remind President Obama of this all-important task. Regardless of the warm and fuzzy “progress” shown by the newly-elected Iranian leader, one man does not change a rogue regime. One flight across the Atlantic does not unravel decades of deception by a theocratic nation while they have relentlessly pursued nuclear weapons with which to threaten the peace and security of the entire human family.
But one meeting can refocus our resolve to defend our national security and that of our allies. I'm quite sure Prime Minister Netanyahu reminded President Obama about the dangers of a nuclear Iran and trusting a wolf in sheep’s clothing. And I can only pray Mr. Obama will finally understand that the costs of holding the line and preventing Iran from gaining nuclear weapons will pale in insignificance compared to the costs of a nuclear armed Iran.