Will Tel Aviv burn while Obama fiddles?

Kenneth Timmerman President, Foundation for Democracy in Iran
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The latest report from the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, released on Thursday, should give all of us pause. It shows that Iran has made dramatic progress in just the past three months in expanding uranium enrichment all the while it continues to stiff arm international inspectors seeking to gain access to an alleged nuclear weapons development site.

Iran now has enough low-enriched uranium on hand, “if further enriched … to make five nuclear weapons,” according to the Institute for Science and International Security.

We also now know that over just the past three months, the Iranians have doubled the number of centrifuges at the previously secret Fordow enrichment site, which is buried deep inside a mountain outside the city of Qom.

Meanwhile, the Iranian regime has repelled repeated attempts by the IAEA to send inspectors to a suspected nuclear weapons development site in Parchin, just south of Tehran, despite multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions obligating Iran to comply with the IAEA inspectors.

We’ve been hearing of war and rumors of war for many months. Some have pointed to October 1 as the absolute deadline for Israel to make a decision whether to take military action against Iran’s nuclear weapons facilities.

But what has our government been doing in the meantime? And why should all eyes be turned toward Jerusalem, and not Washington, D.C.? Have we ceased to be the leader of the Free World?

On Thursday, General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, came out with an extraordinary statement. Speaking to journalists in London, he warned that an Israeli air strike on Iran (who said Israel would launch air strikes?) would be ineffective in shutting down Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

“I don’t want to be complicit if they [Israel] choose to do it,” he added.

Does that mean the mission of the USS John C. Stennis, which recently was dispatched to the Persian Gulf four months ahead of schedule to join the USS Enterprise and its carrier battle group, is to deter or even prevent Israeli military strikes on Iran?

What a chilling thought. The very fact that it has become thinkable shows how far this administration has strayed from our once rock-solid alliance with the state of Israel.

President Obama came to office with clearly announced plans to conduct “negotiations without preconditions” with the Iranian regime.

While I opposed that strategy at the time, and continue to oppose it today, it should now be clear that the president’s overtures to Tehran have been an abject failure.

In order to pursue those “negotiations without preconditions” with Tehran, the president stayed silent while three million Iranians took to the streets of Tehran and other cities in June 2009, calling in English for U.S. support of their pro-democracy movement.

When President Obama finally broke his silence, it was to say that the United States had a bad history of “meddling” in the domestic affairs of Iran. The mullahs in Tehran got the message, and began the jailing and killing of dissidents in earnest.

Just last week, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who will come to the United States next month, engaged in yet another familiar rant against Israel.

“The very existence of the Zionist regime is an insult to humankind and an affront to all world nations,” he said. “Confronting Zionists will also pave the way for saving the whole humankind from exploitation, depravity and misery.”

And right after a Tehran meeting with Jeffrey Feltman, who until recently was the State Department’s top Middle East diplomat (and who now serves as a United Nations envoy), Ayatollah Khamenei told the Non-Aligned Summit in Tehran that Israelis were “ferocious Zionist wolves who devour Palestinian children.”

Taken by themselves, such words constitute a blood libel. Combined with a nuclear weapons capability, they are a call to genocide.

I believe we must urgently change our policy toward Iran. Negotiations have failed, and sanctions will not bend the will of this dictatorial regime, which couldn’t care less about the sufferings of the Iranian people.

Rather than vainly hoping to change the behavior of the regime, the United States should help the people of Iran change the regime through non-violent protest.

This policy would not only serve Iran’s interests, it would serve America’s too. I believe we owe it to our young men and women in uniform, who inevitably will get called upon to pick up the pieces after our politicians make mistakes, to engage in this effort to hold high the lamp of freedom in one of the darkest regions on the face of the planet, before it is too late.

Ken Timmerman is the founder and CEO of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran, and is the Republican candidate for Congress in Maryland’s 8th District.