I was amazed when I read the Pawlenty speech on the Middle East. I hadn’t expected that a former Middle Western governor, from a blue state, would have had the passion and vision to deliver one of the most impressive analyses and tough-minded policy ideas within memory. And I love the title, “No Retreat from Freedom’s Rise.”
Here are the key graphs:
We have a clear interest in seeing an end to Assad’s murderous regime. By sticking to Bashar al Assad so long, the Obama Administration has not only frustrated Syrians who are fighting for freedom—it has demonstrated strategic blindness. The governments of Iran and Syria are enemies of the United States. They are not reformers and never will be. They support each other. To weaken or replace one, is to weaken or replace the other.
The fall of the Assad mafia in Damascus would weaken Hamas, which is headquartered there. It would weaken Hezbollah, which gets its arms from Iran, through Syria. And it would weaken the Iranian regime itself.
To take advantage of this moment, we should press every diplomatic and economic channel to bring the Assad reign of terror to an end. We need more forceful sanctions to persuade Syria’s Sunni business elite that Assad is too expensive to keep backing. We need to work with Turkey and the Arab nations and the Europeans, to further isolate the regime. And we need to encourage opponents of the regime by making our own position very clear, right now: Bashar al-Assad must go.
When he does, the mullahs of Iran will find themselves isolated and vulnerable. Syria is Iran’s only Arab ally. If we peel that away, I believe it will hasten the fall of the mullahs. And that is the ultimate goal we must pursue. It’s the singular opportunity offered to the world by the brave men and women of the Arab Spring.
Who else in American public life is calling for regime change in Syria and Iran, and recognizes that bringing down the Tehran regime is “the ultimate goal we must pursue?”
He’s right, and it’s encouraging that at least someone is saying it. Perhaps some of the other candidates will see fit to start talking seriously about national security above and beyond the debt, unemployment, and so on. The country is at risk on both fronts, foreign and domestic, and our future success and survival depend on our winning on both fronts.
Meanwhile, at least Governor Pawlenty laid it out, while the administration dithers and retreats. It seems that Supreme Leader Khamenei warned Obama in a letter not to meddle in Syria to the detriment of the Assad regime. Actually he needn’t have worried. That sort of thing would cut into the golfing schedule.