Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. As we continue negotiations with Iran on its nuclear weapons program, this time honored wisdom should guide us.
Seventy-five years ago, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain signed the Munich Pact, handing portions of Czechoslovakia to Adolf Hitler's Germany. With the hindsight of history, we now know that Chamberlain’s efforts to appease Hitler and find “peace for our time” actually led to the last world war. History teaches that we cannot appease evil.
This Administration’s foreign policy failures are well documented. Clearly, they are badly in need of a foreign policy success. However, the tentative agreement John Kerry and the Obama Administration made with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani does little to reverse the course of Iran’s nuclear capacity, potentially making the world a much more dangerous place.
Given the high stakes of delay, we cannot allow insincere overtures to buy Iran more time to achieve nuclear capability. Any permanent agreement with Iran should require a halt to all uranium enrichment and an abandonment of Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Importantly, as an indication of good faith, Iran should stop uranium enrichment now. Period.
A nuclear armed Iran is a game changer that would alter the world as we know it. That danger is closer than you might think. According to physicist David Albright of The Institute of Science and International Security, Iran could have “enough weapon-grade uranium for a bomb in as little as one and one and a half months” and a functional weapon in several months to a year depending on the size and complexity of the device.
In August, I met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while on a trip to Israel.
His sobering assessment of Iran’s nuclear ambitions and analysis of the potential consequences of a nuclear capable Iran would strengthen anyone’s resolve. In his October 1 speech to the United Nations General Assembly, the prime minister was clear that “the only diplomatic solution that would work is the one that fully dismantles Iran’s nuclear weapons program and prevents it from having one in the future.” I agree.
Our sanctions against Iran were working. They damaged the Iranian economy and brought President Rouhani to the negotiating table. Through the tentative agreement made in Geneva, we have now eased those sanctions and given his regime more breathing room. I believe that move could embolden his belief that Iran is entitled to enrich uranium.
We may not agree on much here on Capitol Hill, but the agreement reached in Geneva has been criticized on a bipartisan basis. Earlier this year, 78 of my Republican and Democratic freshman colleagues in the House of Representatives signed a letter I wrote with Representative Brad Schneider. Together, we urged the President to broaden and strengthen the enforcement of sanctions against Iran until Tehran takes verifiable steps to reverse its nuclear activities.
When we look back on this administration, the President will be judged by one simple question, did he or did he not prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon? The tentative agreement reached in Geneva does not go far enough to keep that from happening.
President Obama must make clear to Iran that we mean what we say. History teaches peace through strength. There is no peace through appeasement.