Israel: A strategic beachhead for the United States in the Middle East

Since 1948, America's security has been enhanced by our ally and friend Israel. 

Israel has been on the forefront in the battle against Islamic terrorists and rogue nations along all of its borders, including Hezbollah and Hamas, who are supported by Iran, and al-Qaeda and other jihadists, all of whom have their eyes fixed on the "great Satan" America. Under continuous perilous threat, Israel remains a strong, stable, and unconditional ally to America.

Beginning with Ayatollah Khomeini and the overthrow of the Shah of Iran in 1979, Iran has been a leading sponsor of Islamic terrorism throughout the Middle East and the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world, funding surrogates in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Turkey, and Yemen. Iran continues to undermine strategic American allies in the region including Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, while maintaining their support of the Assad regime in Syria. Iran's goal is to have hegemony in the region solidifying its base to destroy Israel, the United States, and the Western world. Closer to home, Iran collaborates with hostile nations like Venezuela, Cuba, and Argentina, seeking to expand their influence to undermine the United States.

The Obama Administration has stabilized Iran’s economy from recession, infusing it with $12B of repatriated oil revenues by June 30, 2015,  thus removing significant leverage and strengthening their hand in the negotiations.  These concessions have had an inverse affect.   Congress should enact deadline-triggered sanctions.   Any successful negotiation occurs when the opposing party is under stress.   The current policy and misguided strategy has changed the narrative from “Can Iran have nuclear reserves?” to “How large of nuclear reserves may they have?”

Annually, Iran celebrates November 4 as "death to America day," commemorating the 1979 seizure of the US Embassy and featuring the burning of the American flag. 

The tactical and strategic efforts of Iran and terrorist organizations are no surprise to Israel, or America’s other Middle East allies. In separate meetings with the Crown Prince in the UAE, Emir in Qatar, and President el-Sisi in Egypt, each conveyed to me their frustration with the lack of leadership by the United States to confront Islamic terrorists and their concerns over an Iran with nuclear weapons and missile delivery systems. 

As a democratic ally, Israel has been a strategic beachhead for the United States in the Middle East.  In essence, Israel is an aircraft carrier for the U.S., which doesn't require a single American boot on board.  Israel has assisted in training US special ops forces before going to Iraq and Afghanistan, provided tactical advice, and shared its armored-plating technology to help save the lives of US soldiers. They provide America more intelligence than all NATO countries combined, further helping to protect our men and women in foreign combat and our families here at home from sleeper cells in the United States.

Israel has also played a strategic role in combatting terrorism in the region and restricting terrorist capacities to threaten the United States. While America delayed and withheld military assistance for Egypt to fight Islamic terrorists in the Sinai, Israel remained an important ally to Egypt with equipment support.

Consider the following: Iran has worked with North Korea in the development of intercontinental ballistic missiles. Their missile program is not included in the P5+1 negotiation.  Also, according to Ambassador Joseph Macmanus, whom I met with in Vienna, the IAEA is restricted to inspecting only the 17 declared nuclear facilities. Do we really have intel to cover activity throughout the rest of the country?

As I met last week with young Israeli military officers at the Golan Heights, Gaza border, an Iron Dome missile defense site, and with two young special ops and intel officers at their family Shabbat dinner, I was impressed by these soldiers who understand evil and are standing courageously for all of us.  In my meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu, the third time in 18 months, his burden and concern was even more grave as he spoke with clarity regarding the adversary we are facing today.

America should weigh the concerns of Prime Minister Netanyahu with the historical perspective of the emergence of and the cancerous metastasis of Islamic terrorism in the Middle East, often fueled by Iran.

We read in I Corinthians 14:8 “If the trumpet sound be not clear, who will follow?” In contrast to our own leadership, thank God for Prime Minister Netanyahu who recognizes the foreboding evil, and like Churchill, awakens the world to understand our common threat.

Pittenger has represented North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District since 2013.  He sits on the Financial Services Committee and is chairman of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare.