Dealing with an implacable enemy

The Obama administration’s drive to achieve any type of agreement with Iran on the nuclear weapons program defies logic. President Obama and his team argue that while the agreement may not be perfect, the alternative is war.

It obviously will come as a surprise to the Obama administration that Iran has been at war with the United States for more than 35 years. This has led to the loss of thousands of American lives. Every administration, be it Democrat or Republican, has failed to counter Iran’s acts of war, starting with the Carter administration, when Iranians took over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. This was sovereign U.S. territory, and we did nothing.

In April 1983, a car bomb was detonated at the entrance to our U.S. Embassy in Beirut, killing 63, including our key Middle East expert, Bob Ames, and many others. On Oct. 23, 1983, a suicide terrorist detonated a truck bomb with 21,000 lbs. of TNT that totally destroyed the U.S. Marines Beirut barracks, killing 241 of our finest military personnel. We have positive proof that the orders for the bombing came from Iran. Again, we did nothing, even though we had our carrierbased aircraft loaded and ready to attack. We were going to totally destroy the Sheikh Abdullah compound where the Islamic Amal and Iran’s Hezbollah terrorist proxy were holed up. We could have changed the course of history. However, it was our own secretary of defense that sabotaged the strike.

Our failure to act became Osama bin Laden’s rallying cry that “the Americans can’t suffer casualties, they will cut and run.”

In the eyes of the Middle East, that’s what we did. There followed countless kidnappings and murders, including the brutal killing of our Beirut CIA station chief William Buckley on June 3, 1985, as well as Col. William “Rich” Higgins on July 6, 1990, who was serving on a U.N. peacekeeping mission in Lebanon.

On June 25, 1996, another Hezbollah truck bomb was detonated adjacent to the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, killing 19 U.S. Air Force servicemen and wounding almost 500 others. Again, we did nothing even though, in 2006, a U.S. court found Iran and Hezbollah guilty of conducting the attack. On Oct. 12, 2000, a suicide bomb exploded a small boat alongside the USS Cole, killing 17 American sailors and injuring many more. This had all the earmarks of Iran’s Hezbollah proxies.

Most importantly, Iran provided critical material and training support to the Sept. 11, 2001 hijackers. Without this support, the attack could not have been carried out, thereby saving the lives of almost 3,000 innocent Americans. Iran was found guilty of providing this critical support by Judge George B. Daniels in the New York District Court in December 2011. In addition, Iran was directly responsible for over one-third of the 4,000-plus casualties we suffered in the Iraq War, as well as the many thousands permanently injured there. Again, we did nothing.

Today we are faced with the most serious threat because of President Obama’s groveling to achieve any type of agreement with the illegitimate Ayatollah Ali Khamenei regime over Iran’s nuclear weapons program. There are those who try to make the case, led by Iran’s Washington lobby, that even if Iran achieves a nuclear weapon capability, it can be contained by deterrence. The idea that a regime with such an apocalyptic mindset, believing in the supremacy of the afterlife gained through a holy war can be contained, is nonsense.

Even distinguished scholar Bernard Lewis has now conceded that deterrence will not work with Iran.

With Iran continuing to lie, cheat and hide their key nuclear infrastructure underground — and away from the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors — key scholars have concluded that the only way to stop Iran from achieving a nuclear weapons capability is to destroy its key nuclear facilities. One of those scholars is Matthew Kroenig, one of the world’s leading experts on Iran’s nuclear program, and who was a special adviser in the Office of the Secretary of Defense from 2010 to 2011. Since Iran’s key facilities are located near cities such as Natang, Qom and Isfahan, there obviously will be collateral damage. Some of Mr. Kroenig’s colleagues have suggested that we could limit collateral damage by announcing in advance the “timing of the attack” and attack at night when there would be fewer employees at these facilities. This type of faculty-lounge logic would be something that would proceed from the White House’s incompetent national security team, which has no problem sacrificing our wonderful military personnel. This is the same inane logic that Dean Rusk admitted to in providing the North Vietnam the targets we were going to hit the following day so they could keep their workers home. We all know how that great humanitarian concern worked out. It was treason.

Regretfully, no one believes that President Obama would consider a military strike. However, this could work to our advantage, since deception is always a key factor in keeping an enemy off balance. Clearly, we have more justification to strike Iran than just their nuclear weapon program. We should conduct a massive air and cruise-missile strike over a period of days that would not only destroy Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, but also their key military facilities, including their missile complexes. This would severely limit Iran’s ability to retaliate. Such a strike could be successfully conducted and would dramatically change the strategic equation throughout the Middle East.

James A. Lyons, a retired U.S. Navy admiral, was commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations.

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