An Op-Ed by Greg Sowards, U.S. Senate Candidate
As a candidate running for the U.S. Senate, it is my job to be well-versed in both domestic and foreign policy. When it comes to America’s Iranian challenge, it is necessary to make an argument on behalf of the American people that bluntly assesses the world as it is.
As tough talk mounts between Israel and Iran over the nuclear question, what is apparent is a lack of leadership. For far too long, the global terrorist organization known as Hezbollah has been allowed to operate with impunity.
Past statements by the leadership of Hezbollah are problematic. The leaders of the terror group have claimed that if Israel strikes Iranian nuclear sites, within one minute 11,000 rockets will rain down on Israel from southern Lebanon. In reply, Israel’s leaders declared that in the event of a full-fledged missile strike originating from Hezbollah, Israel will respond in kind and treat the whole of Lebanon as a hostile power. In this frame, it is apparent that a jihadist arm of Iran, acting as a state within a state, has declared its willingness to bring Lebanon into a war that does not represent the national interests of the Lebanese people.
Hezbollah now has well over 45,000 rockets in its arsenal. Those rockets are primarily short-range, unguided katyusha-grade weapons; but, as we saw in the 2006 July War, longer-range guided rockets like the Chinese silkworm missile have been smuggled into southern Lebanon.
The use of human shields is a key element of Hezbollah’s antisemitic propaganda strategy. The terror group has built a bunker network of tunnels, weapon stores and firing positions beneath highly populated southern Lebanese towns and have already proven willing to fire rockets from these civilian areas, knowing full-well Israel will strike the source of the attack out of self-defense.
Perhaps the most disturbing reality of all is that Hezbollah, which claimed it would never turn its guns inward on the people of Lebanon, weakened the state’s leadership by backing an 18-month worker’s union strike and then mounted a putsch and took control of western Beirut. Why? Because the Lebanese authorities sought to strip Hezbollah of its airport security detail and to dismantle its secret telecommunications network. Hezbollah’s links to Iran and capacity to smuggle weapons into Lebanon were threatened, so the interests of the people of Lebanon became secondary to the ability of Hezbollah’s leaders to serve their masters in Iran.
Hezbollah’s rockets are now holding the people and the future of Lebanon hostage to irrational Iranian designs. In June, Hezbollah’s chief, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, stated that his group would destroy Tel Aviv if Israel struck Iran’s nuclear sites. When questioned about possible Israeli strikes, military leaders of Iran have shrugged off the need to respond with ballistic missiles, indicating that Hezbollah’s katyushas are now capable of reaching every Israeli town.
In 2012, the American people should elect Senators who are prepared to restore our nation’s special relationship with Israel. In terms of securing regional peace in the Greater Middle East, America’s challenge is in determining the best way to help Israel defuse Hezbollah and to stop Iran from wielding the state of Lebanon as a geopolitical weapon.
The Taif Accord, which was signed at the close of the Lebanese Civil War in 1989, gave the Hezbollah faction the right to retain its weapons of “resistance.” The legitimacy of the Taif Agreement should be challenged by world leaders the moment Hezbollah’s weapons are used on behalf of any country other than Lebanon.
When elected as the next U.S. Senator from New Mexico, I will actively work to support Israel’s efforts to counter the Hezbollah menace.