By Jack Tymann
In 2008, the top international issue in the presidential debates dealt with restraining Iran and preserving stability in the Middle East.
In 2012, the Middle East is on the verge of being lost!
The so-called Arab Spring has deteriorated into an Islamic winter!
As the region moves precipitously toward all-out war and disruption of the world’s oil supply, Americans play politics, some consumed with Mitt Romney’s tax returns, others laughing at Vice President Joe Biden’s latest gaffe.
Wake up, America! Lead where America alone is capable of leading.
Egypt is already lost. The most populous Arab state, where the Muslim Brotherhood was launched to later spawn al-Qaida, has become the 2012 version of Iran 1979. This after America for the second time in 33 years threw an important regional ally under the proverbial bus.
President Mohammed Morsi, Mubarak’s successor, has replaced Egypt’s military commanders and Egypt’s media editors with Brotherhood loyalists. Egypt’s parliament has been disbanded.
Strict Shariah law (including public crucifixions of Morsi’s opponents!) has begun, as Coptic Christians flee the nation.
The 30-year anchor of the U.S.-Arab alliance has been transformed overnight into an Islamic dictatorship.
For the first time since the Camp David Accords, Egypt has deployed forces and weapons to Sinai, while threatening international shipping through the Suez Canal and allowing Iranian terrorists to deploy west of Israel.
From the U.S., the silence is deafening, other than the $1 billion in Egyptian aid we continue to provide.
The U.S. must exert bold leadership now, or next year the entire Middle East will be lost, with dire consequences!
We need clarity about the end objective, and clarity in communicating that goal worldwide.
We must not be lulled into short-term passivity, nor kick the Middle East can down the road, as we do elsewhere.
In order to lead toward regional stability, we need a plan — and we have none.
Part of this plan must be unwavering support for Israel. Today this support is more in doubt than ever before.
Part of this plan must be a Syrian plan — and we have none.
Barbarism has seen 20,000 Syrians slaughtered. This is a wake-up call. Syria’s massive arsenal of chemical and biological weapons (yes, it’s real this time) constitutes a clear and present danger to international security.
Meanwhile, every day Iran moves closer to nuclear weapons and missile delivery capabilities.
The U.S. must end denial, complacency and blindness to the threats posed. We must reject appeasement and false hopes.
We must lead — and not from behind.
We must lead with our allies.
We must never yield leadership to the United Nations.
We must lead without Russia and China, who will only look out for their own interests. We must somehow neutralize Russia and China.
We should act wherever possible without Israeli involvement, and without U.S. “boots on the ground.”
The Iranian and Syrian regimes must be toppled — there is no other answer.
The newly Islamic Egyptian regime must be met with strength and firmness.
We need to lead in bringing the Arab states into partnership toward a goal of sustainable peace. The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia must play important roles. They will not need much convincing; they already fear/distrust Iran and Syria.
We must dramatically increase sanctions — to encourage regime change in both nations — and halt Iran’s nuclear activities. These must include sanctions on gasoline (even Iran cannot refine its own). We must do this even while temporarily hurting the people, who must be willing to sacrifice their blood, treasure and sacred honor in quest of liberty. They must in the end revolt against their totalitarian leaders.
We must equip and train opposition revolutionary forces. We know how to do this.
Once the seeds of revolution appear (as in the 2009 Iranian Green Revolution), we must support the revolutionaries aggressively — with everything we have. That is air power, propaganda, information/education from satellites and Internet, intelligence and special military forces, weapons and training. We must see revolution through to success.
Once the regimes are toppled, we must provide U.S. aid to help build government infrastructure needed for representative government. Fortunately, there are foundations in place in Iran from our engagement back in the 1970s, and really good Iranians and Syrians outside their homelands willing to return and help.
Iran and Syria can become viable again and partners for peace in the region.
I believe this based on personal experience, contacts and my natural-born sense of optimism.
The alternative is unacceptable.
Tymann, as president of Westinghouse International, led business development in 75 nations, including most Muslim countries. He resided in Iran with his family before and during the Iranian Islamic Revolution. In the 1990s he co-chaired the Clinton-Mubarak Presidents’ Council for the Middle East. Tymann today serves on the board of a Washington-based nonprofit that promotes mutual understanding between Americans and the Arab world through educational exchange.