Iran’s threat is against all of us, not just Israel

Prime Minister Netanyahu was invited to speak to a joint session of Congress about the importance of furthering sanctions against Iran.

Accepting the invitation is a colossal mistake. I urge the prime minister to just say “No thank you.”

My counsel is not based on the timing of the upcoming Israeli elections and the visual affect of the incumbent prime minister standing before Israel’s most valuable ally and its elected leadership.

My counsel is not based on the role of pawn the prime minister might play, used by Republican Congressional leadership against a Democratic president.

My counsel is not based on the poor timing of the invitation, which was extended and accepted just hours after the State of the Union address, and broke with White House protocol.

My counsel is based on one simple, critical, and undeniable fact: Iran sanctions are in the United States best interest. We do not need a leader of a foreign country to come to United States to tell Congress the benefits of enacting these sanctions. While it is true, these sanctions help the United States and all of its citizens. De facto, that helps Israel, and all of America’s allies.

Do we want Angela Merkel standing before our elected officials explaining how best to deal with immigration, or Francoise Hollande describing the best vehicle to stop terror? Our countries are and should remain staunch allies. We should learn and grow and even challenge each other. Still, our legislation should not appear to be decided upon solely by our allies’ interests, not our own benefits. That is a very dangerous card to play.

Legislation that benefits America’s interests is paramount. Let me be unambiguous. Sanctions on Iran are critical and vital to America’s interests. Allow me to repeat that: Sanctions on Iran are critical and vital to America’s interests.

Iran’s achieving nuclear capability would be an irrevocable catastrophe that must be stopped. A nuclear bomb in Iran’s hands would pose imminent threats to every Western value-based country. This includes Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Brussels, all of which are within arms’ reach of Iran, as well as Canada, Mexico, and the United States.

If Iran were to become a nuclear-capable country, it would undermine all of the non-proliferation treaties and progress that has been made through years of hard negotiations. These treaties were brokered to dismantle the threat of annihilation by other countries. Is that a place toward which we want to return? Has the frostbite of the Cold War thawed in our memories?

Inevitably, with growing tensions between Sunni and Shiite countries, Iran’s obtaining a nuclear bomb would stoke an arms race in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, perhaps even oil-rich Qatar and Kuwait all would follow suit, with bombs of their own. The Middle East is a dangerous and volatile neighborhood. In what is a very cold winter following an unsettling Arab spring, the idea of rogue militia-based governments with the ability to put their fingers on the button is terrifying to the entire world.

Iran is one of 13 countries that comprise the council of OPEC – the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. This group of 13, almost all of them Arab countries, is responsible for more than 40 percent of the world’s oil. If one of those countries had nuclear capabilities, it could hold the world hostage on oil prices. Under $2 a gallon is a wonderful reprieve these days. However, imagine $7.50 a gallon just because Iran has the muscle to enforce price gouging and no one country could stand up to it.

When Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990 it wanted to capture more oil fields and simply get richer. America and Israel stopped that from happening: America by sending troops and letting Saddam Hussein know that the world would not sit idly by for his audacious thievery. Israel is to be applauded for secretly bombing the nuclear reactor at Ossirik, Iraq, 10 years earlier. I am not a fortune teller, but I am pretty sure that were Iraq to have had a nuclear bomb the allied countries’ response in 1990 would have been dramatically more timid. Kuwait might have fallen to Iraq and gas prices would have soared while Saddam would have built more palaces. Thankfully, that was thwarted. Do we want to make the same mistake again?

Iran is the largest sponsor of world terror. Iran is a source of funds and weaponry to Hamas and Hezbollah, two terrorist organizations operating in Gaza and Lebanon, respectively. Its fingerprints are linked to the AMIA bombing in Argentina, where more than 65 people were murdered. Iran even offers compensation to surviving families whose children murdered Israeli civilians. Should we allow the neighborhood bully to upgrade its artillery? Logic tells me such a bully would create exponentially more crime.

The current iteration of the Kirk-Menendez bill should be signed by all members of the U.S. Senate in a demonstration of bipartisan support. The proposed bill is prospective. That means it only takes effect if the negotiations with Iran fail. In essence, it holds the Iranians’ feet to the fire at the negotiation table. Should they stall or walk away, the U.S. government need not go through the time-consuming exercises of drafting and voting on sanctions, while Iran spins its centrifuges.

Sanctions against Iran must happen for all these reasons – and many more. If we make it appear that we are making the sanctions solely or even primarily for Israel’s sake it is a dangerous optical illusion.

So, Mr. Prime Minister, just say ‘No, thank you’ to the gracious invitation. If you are victorious in the coming elections, come back to address Congress and thank its members for our special, unique, and shared value-based relationship.