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The Forgotten War

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
Collectively, Washington has the attention span of a fruit fly. That's why all we have heard about lately are the consequences of failing to raise the federal debt limit -- action that has prompted no fewer than two dozen dueling news conferences, presidential addresses and Republican "responses" in the past 10 days. Our political leaders and the mainstream media are totally focused on how this theoretical "potential catastrophe" can be ameliorated, while existential threats to our national security and very way of life are being ignored in Washington.

Meanwhile, in the real world, after nearly a decade at war, young Americans still are being killed and maimed in Afghanistan and Iraq. We now are engaged in "kinetic military operations" in Libya, Yemen and Pakistan and against pirates off the coast of Somalia. The so-called "Green Revolution" has left in its wake unstable "transitional" governments in Egypt and Tunisia that are vulnerable to radical Islamists. And the portent for trouble doesn't end there.

In Bahrain, strategically important headquarters to the U.S. 5th Fleet, Saudi special operations and Interior Ministry intelligence units now enforce "civil order" through measures described by opponents as "police state tactics." In Syria, Bashar Assad's violently repressive regime continues a vicious campaign of rape, plunder and murder orchestrated by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps in an effort to retain control over the Syrian people. In Iran, the ruling theocrats have completely ignored a fourth round of limp-wristed U.N.-imposed "international sanctions" and accelerated the process of building nuclear weapons and the means of delivering them.

The Obama administration's surreal response to all of this? Ignore what is actually happening on the ground -- particularly Iran's insidious role in these places and events -- and instead talk of nothing but domestic political concerns while making plans to slash U.S. defense spending dramatically.

A government official, speaking on background, describes the proposed cuts as "Draconian" and "totally devoid of any strategic reality." Though the O-Team has yet to identify specific reductions in defense and intelligence programs, "the target is to reduce national security expenditures by more than $600 billion." For the record, that is more than one-third larger than the "savings" advocated by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates and includes cuts in "every branch of the armed forces and every current and proposed weapons system." My source notes, "The ayatollahs in Tehran must be chortling at our willful neglect of responsibility to protect ourselves."

Whether that observation is accurate or not we may never know because we have very limited ability to collect human intelligence inside the Iranian regime. What we do know -- because those in the regime have announced it themselves -- is that Dr. Fereydoon Abbasi, the new head of their nuclear program, is in the process of installing the "next generation" of advanced centrifuges at the deep-underground Fordow uranium refinement facility, run by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps in Qom.

According to Iranian government websites, Abbasi, a nuclear physicist, has been a member of the IRGC since 1979, the year Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini became Iran's supreme leader. On Nov. 29 last year, Abbasi narrowly avoided assassination when a motorcyclist planted a magnetic bomb on the door of his car. In a nearly simultaneous attack, a similar device succeeded in killing one of his fellow nuclear weapons developers. And July 23, another of Abbasi's colleagues, Darioush Rezaeinejad -- identified as "an expert on electronic switching research," an essential component in all nuclear weapons -- was killed near Tehran University by gunmen on a motorcycle. Iranian officials blame U.S. and Israeli intelligence agents for these attacks, as they did when the "Stuxnet" worm temporarily disabled computers running IRGC nuclear research programs last July.

Neither U.S. nor Israeli intelligence officials will confirm or deny involvement in these events. But they both acknowledge, on background, "This is all part of a forgotten war being fought in the shadows against our nations' greatest enemy. But direct action events such as these will, at best, slow Iranian nuclear weapons deployment, not stop it." That will come only with regime change in Tehran.

Thus far, support for real transformation in Tehran appears beyond the capacity of the constantly inconsistent Obama administration. After dithering for weeks, the president eventually got around to demanding that Hosni Mubarak surrender power in Cairo. Since then, he has ineffectively insisted that Moammar Gadhafi leave Tripoli. His call for Bashar Assad to step down in Damascus has been ignored. And now he refuses to issue an executive order barring any company that does business in Iran from doing business in the United States.

Such a measure could well be the catalyst to bring about regime change in Tehran. It certainly would be more effective than toothless U.N. sanctions. And it might well serve to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran from making the next war against a unilaterally disarmed America and our ally Israel truly unforgettable.

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