Pittenger: US needs to get tougher on Iran
U.S. Congressman Robert Pittenger returned recently from a weeklong jaunt to Israel impressed by the Jewish state’s resolve and with a belief that threats in the region need reminders that Israel has a powerful friend called the United States.
“My overall takeaway from the trip is that this is a very resilient country, in both their capacity to defend themselves and their ability to grow such a strong economy,” said Pittenger, who spent his 65th birthday in the nation which, itself, celebrates its 65th anniversary this year.
“This is a country whose citizens have had over 8,000 rockets launched at them in those 65 years,” he said. “Can you imagine that? More than 8,000 rockets. It’s hard to think about such a thing.”
Pittenger, who chairs the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, said that while most of those rockets have come during the enduring and seemingly endless discontentment that exists between Israel and Palestine, a larger threat is looming.
Israel shares a sliver of its northeastern border with Syria, which has been engaged in civil conflict for two years, and its southwestern corner abuts Egypt, whose stability is clouded by a coup d’état that has been underway since early July.
But even these two areas of unrest on either side of Israel are not what bothers Pittenger the most. The more pressing problem in the region is the old bugaboo, Iran.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu was very intense about the necessity of not allowing Iran to continue with their nuclear program,” Pittenger said. “He banged his fist on the table and was intent about not allowing that to happen.”
Pittenger said Iran had long been a “paper tiger” but “is trying to become a major force of evil in the world.”
Pittenger said that Israel Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon estimates that Iran has the ability to have weapons- grade nuclear materials within four months.
“They are that close. If they want to pursue it, they have the capability of doing it. And we can’t allow that to happen,” Pittenger said and added, “That is unequivocal.”
Pittenger said the U.S. must get involved in stopping Iran from continuing with its nuclear program but said that involvement should not include sending troops.
“This is not a boots-on-the-ground matter,” he said. “It’s a take-it-out measure and it needs to be done.”
Pittenger said President Obama has been “naïve” in believing Iran would accede to his “bowing and appeasing.” But that the situation has gotten worse because of a lack of force.
“They respect strength,” he said and pointed to tactics employed by former President Ronald Reagan.
“President Reagan shot down the entire Eastern Bloc,” Pittenger said. “And he didn’t fire a single shot. Mr. Obama has dismantled our missile defense system. He seems to be unaware of the real threats that exist there.”
Pittenger, whose 9th District takes in a good portion of Iredell County including Mooresville and Troutman, said the trip was an eye-opener.
“It really brings it home when you’re there and seeing it for yourself and standing in the middle of it,” he said.