With Iran, U.S. Needs to Remember Our Long-Term Interests

NOTE FROM SENIOR MANAGEMENT: Rep. Bentivolio's Army and National Guard career spans more than 20 years and included tours in Vietnam, Desert Storm, and Iraq. His military service record has included receiving the Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, and Combat Infantryman Badge. He represents Michigan’s 11th district.

While another round of negotiations with Iran nears, I hope the Obama administration maintains a coherent stance that keeps our nation’s long-term diplomatic strategy in mind. 

Every day, Iran comes closer to obtaining nuclear weapons. As the only member of Congress to serve in both the Vietnam and Iraq Wars, I always approach military hostilities with caution. Peace must always be tried before sending troops into harms way. 

Although I opposed the president’s reckless attempt at a military response regarding Syria’s use of chemical weapons, Iran’s ambitious nuclear program poses a different, more perilous threat to the United States and our friends in the Middle East. The free world must act together in preventing the Ayatollah from ever acquiring a deadly nuclear arsenal.

Iran achieving nuclear capability would open a precarious Pandora’s Box in the most unstable region of the world. No free person should accept a nation that has openly discussed using weapons of mass destruction to commit genocide and terrorism from obtaining the most powerful weapon on the planet. Iran fulfilling its nuclear ambitions could trigger an arms race between Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and Turkey in order to keep their standing and security in the region. 

Iran’s support of Hezbollah has cost countless lives. The regime has also killed hundreds, if not thousands, of American soldiers by supplying improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to our enemy in the field in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

President Obama has tried to convince the world that the newly elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is a new partner for peace and moderation. While I pray that be the case, I tend to side with our friend Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he called the new leader a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” Every candidate in Iran must be screened by the Ayatollah’s pre-election vetting process. Ultimately, the final decision maker in Iran is the Supreme Leader, not its people.

Sanctions over time have dealt a devastating blow to Iran’s economy, and they have worked to ensure that the U.S. and our European allies can negotiate from a position of strength. To delay more economic penalties before the dismantling of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure only leaves the enemies of freedom stronger and the proponents of peace weaker. 

A nuclear Iran is the single greatest threat to global security. I urge the Senate to oppose the Administration’s plea to support the deal they offered in Geneva. It lessens the pressure on Iran without addressing any issues currently at stake. Such an agreement would only make a nuclear Iran closer to becoming a reality.

In a dangerous world, we must stand with the friends of democracy over the desperate clamors from the intolerant and despotic. It is essential that the coalition of countries involved in negotiations stand firmly together, speaking truth and defending human liberty and dignity. A firm diplomatic stance can help prevent more violence in the region and create a lasting peace that encourages Iran to join the world community on amicable terms.


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