Senator, this is in response to your action regarding President Bush’s speech at the Knesset, especially his comments concerning appeasement. It was you who originally came up with the idea of meeting with these rogue leaders.

If engagement means keeping our foot on Iran’s throat and increasing the pressure, providing an opportunity for them to capitulate and meet the demands of the international community, that’s the right direction. Another type of engagement is to let us just sit down and chat, make nice, be friends, and have a photo op, but that just lends credibility to a group, deemed terrorists, that has killed more Americans than anyone but al Qaeda. Hezbollah just carried out a coup in Lebanon last week, effectively exporting the Iranian revolution to Lebanon. This is who they are.

Why would you lend credibility to a country that pursues nuclear weapons, denies the Holocaust, threatens to wipe a country off the map, funds and trains terrorists and sends weapons to Iraq to kill American soldiers?

A group that supports the Taliban in Afghanistan and finances Hamas in their terrorist war for the destruction of Israel is not a group to which one ought to lend credibility. Hamas’s charter is “Israel will exist until Islam destroys it.” If you’re having a conversation with these fanatics, who want to turn the clock back to the 11th century, when fundamentalist Islam dominated the world, you only make them seem more legitimate.

You must operate from a position of leverage. Economic sanctions are good and are beginning to have an effect, but much more is needed: Cutting off Iran’s ability to import gasoline is an excellent place to start. They import 40 percent of their gasoline or fine petroleum products, leaving them vulnerable to international sanctions. Such strong measures help create the necessary leverage, including the credible threat of all options remaining on the table, which creates the circumstances to capitulate and conform with the U.N. Security Council’s three-time demand that they end illicit nuclear pursuits.

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