Reuel Marc Gerecht observes in his illuminating Wall Street Journal column today:
The Obama administration will be tempted to respond against Iran with further unilateral and multilateral sanctions. More sanctions aren’t a bad idea—targeted sanctions against the Revolutionary Guards and the sale of gasoline made from Iranian crude can hurt Tehran financially. But they will not scare it. The White House needs to respond militarily to this outrage. If we don’t, we are asking for it.
In the 1980s and ’90s, the U.S. failed to take Secretary of State George Shultz’s wise counsel after Khomeini’s minions bombed us in Lebanon. We didn’t make terrorism a casus belli, instead treating it as a crime, only lobbing a few missiles at Afghan rock huts and a Sudanese pharmaceutical plant. But we should treat it as a casus belli. The price we will pay now will surely be less than the price we will pay later.
In his joint press conference with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak this morning, Obama addressed a question regarding the Iranian terror plot in the answer given below in its entirety:
We have a situation here where the Attorney General has laid out a very specific set of facts. What we know is that an individual of Iranian-American descent was involved in a plot to assassinate the ambassador to the United States from Saudi Arabia. And we also know that he had direct links, was paid by and directed by individuals in the Iranian government.
Now, those facts are there for all to see. And we would not be bringing forward a case unless we knew exactly how to support all the allegations that are contained in the indictment.
So we have contacted all our allies, the international community; we’ve laid the facts before them. And we believe that after people have analyzed them, there will not be a dispute that this is, in fact, what happened.
This is a — not just a dangerous escalation; this is part of a pattern of dangerous and reckless behavior by the Iranian government. One of the principles of international behavior is that our diplomats — we send them around the world — that they are going to be protected, they are not targets for threats or physical violence. And for Iran to have been involved in a plot like this indicates the degree to which it has been outside of accepted norms of international behavior for far too long. This is just one example of a series of steps that they’ve taken to create violence and to behave in a way that you don’t see other countries doing.
So with respect to how we respond, our first step is to make sure that we prosecute those individuals that have been named in the indictment. And I will leave to the Attorney General the task of describing how that will proceed.
The second thing that we’re going to continue to do is to apply the toughest sanctions and continue to mobilize the international community to make sure that Iran is further and further isolated and that it pays a price for this kind of behavior.
Keep in mind that when I came into office I think Iran saw itself as being able to play various countries against each other and avoid the kind of isolation that it deserved. Since that time, what we’ve seen, whether it relates to its nuclear program or its state-sponsored terrorism, that more and more countries have been willing to speak out in forceful ways, whether through the United Nations or through other avenues, to say this is not acceptable behavior. And it is having an impact. I mean, what we’ve seen is Iran’s economy is in a much more difficult state now than it was several years ago, in part because we’ve been able to unify the international community in naming Iran’s misbehavior and saying that it’s got to stop and there are going to be consequences to its actions.
Now, we don’t take any options off the table in terms of how we operate with Iran. But what you can expect is that we will continue to apply the sorts of pressure that will have a direct impact on the Iranian government until it makes a better choice in terms of how it’s going to interact with the rest of the international community.
There is great similarity between how Iran operates and how North Korea operates — a willingness on their part to break international rules, to flout international norms, to not live up to their own commitments. And each time they do that the United States will join with its partners and allies in making sure that they pay a price.
And I think that — I have to emphasize that this plot was not simply directed at the United States of America. This is a plot that was directed against the Saudi ambassador. And I think that what you’re going to see is folks throughout the Middle East region questioning their ability to work effectively with Iran. This builds on the recognition within the region that Iran in fact has been hypocritical when it comes to dealing with the Arab Spring, given their own repressive activities inside their country, their willingness to prop up the Syrian regime at a time when they’re killing their own citizens.
This is a pattern of behavior that I think increasingly the international community is going to consider out of bounds and is going to continue to punish Iran for. Unfortunately, the Iranian people are the ones that probably suffer the most from this regime’s behavior. And we will continue to work to see how we can bring about a Iranian government that is actually responsive to its people but also following the rules of the road that other countries in the international community follow.
“I have to emphasize that this plot was not simply directed at the United States of America. This is a plot that was directed against the Saudi ambassador.” Wow.
If it weren’t so pathetic, it would really be laughable. This was an act of war, pal. Ralph Kramden radiated more more menace than you.
One of these days….