Benjamin Netanyahu’s address was not only a warning but also a breath of fresh air. The Israeli leader is not afraid to recognize the evil of Islamism, unlike the Obama administration, which is unable to break with the warped post-modernist relativism that characterizes the radical left. It is encouraging to hear Netanyahu call out the Islamists at a time when Obama prefers to apologize for them while heaping scorn on the Christian West.
By Paweł Piotr Styrna | March 5, 2015
The address Benjamin Netanyahu delivered before a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress on Tuesday is a dire warning to the West, a warning we would ignore at our own peril. The Israeli Prime Minister has cautioned America against complacency and naïvete towards radical Islamism, both Sunni (as represented by ISIS, al-Qaeda, Hamas, and many others) and Shia (the Islamic Republic of Iran, Hezbollah, the Yemenese Houthis, etc.). As Netanyahu pointed out:
“Iran and ISIS are competing for the crown of militant Islam. (…) Both want to impose a militant Islamic empire first on the region and then on the entire world. They just disagree among themselves who will be the ruler of that empire.”
Thus, he continued, “The battle between Iran and ISIS doesn’t turn Iran into a friend of America.” The Shia enemy of our Sunni ISIS enemy is not our friend; on the contrary, “the enemy of your enemy is your enemy.”
The Israeli leader challenged the reasoning that he believes lies at the heart of the Obama administration’s attempt to secure Tehran’s cooperation against ISIS by attempting to appease the nuclear ambitions of the Islamist regime holding Iran hostage. The emerging Washington-Tehran “deal” is a “very bad deal” that grants “two major concessions: one, leaving Iran with a vast nuclear program; and two, lifting the restrictions on that program in about a decade.” In short, Netanyahu stressed that the deal “doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb; it paves Iran’s path to the bomb.”
Allowing a regime that remains revolutionary and aggressive, that continues to support terrorism, and that has threatened to annihilate the Jewish nation-state of Israel to develop nuclear weapons is indeed a very bad, short-sighted idea. As Netanyahu emphasized, “We must always remember (…) the greatest dangers facing our world is the marriage of militant Islam with nuclear weapons. To defeat ISIS and let Iran get nuclear weapons would be to win the battle, but lose the war,” he warned.
A nuclear-armed Tehran is indeed a grave threat to the Jewish state, but it is also a great danger to the region and, by extension, to the United States, as well. As the Israeli statesman pointed out, a frantic nuclear arms race would ensue in the Middle East, further destabilizing this already volatile powder-keg.
Benjamin Netanyahu rightly sees that there are no “lesser evils” when it comes to Sunni and Shia Islamists. ISIS and Iran require two somewhat different strategies, however. In the case of the former, we should primarily help the locals – especially the Kurds, Yazidis, Assyrians, Jordanians, etc. – to deal with the barbarians with whom they would love to get even (as we pound ISIS mercilessly from the air). In the case of the latter, an effort to help Iranians effect regime change from the inside should be the preferred option. The Islamist regime currently occupying Iran is fundamentally anti-Iranian. It does not represent the Iranian people, who, in general, despise it. As Netanyahu noted, “The people of Iran are very talented people. They’re heirs to one of the world’s great civilizations. But in 1979, they were hijacked by religious zealots — religious zealots who imposed on them immediately a dark and brutal dictatorship.” A free Iran would no doubt be a strong bastion of anti-Islamism and a friend of the U.S. and Israel (as it was under the Shah).
Netanyahu’s address was not only a warning, but also a breath of fresh air. The Israeli leader is not afraid to recognize the evil of Islamism, unlike the Obama administration, which is unable to break with the warped post-modernist relativism that characterizes the radical left. It is encouraging to hear Netanyahu call out the Islamists at a time when Obama prefers to apologize for them while heaping scorn on the Christian West. The fact that Obama and so many Democrats chose to boycott the Israeli prime minister’s speech, thereby failing to rise above their ideological and petty party loyalty, is yet another demonstration that the liberal left is not only incapable of defending Western Civilization against the monster of Islamism but only undermines that effort.
Paweł Styrna has an MA in modern European history from the University of Illinois, and is currently working on an MA in international affairs at the Institute of World Politics in Washington, DC, where he is a research assistant to the Kościuszko Chair of Polish Studies. Mr. Styrna is also a Eurasia analyst for the Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research and a contributor to SFPPR News & Analysis.