On October 7th, Israel suffered the worst attack it has experienced in its history at the hands of the terrorist group Hamas. 900 casualties in Israel, including at least 11 American citizens – not to mention around 150 hostages taken by Hamas, most back to the Gaza Strip where they will be held as bargaining chips. The shocking adjectives being used are spot on: heinous, evil, unconscionable. And one lesson has emerged crystal-clear: weakness on Iran does not lead to moderation and bonhomie, it leads to bloodshed and paves the path for terror. Obama’s nuclear deals; Trump’s tougher but ultimately unsustainable approach; Biden’s inattention and subsequent $6 billion bribe to Iran – and people wonder why the Iranian regime thought that now might be a good time to push the envelope even further. What happens next will be decisive. We have watched Biden slow roll aid to Ukraine while Congress tears itself apart. We have watched successive administrations hope that pivoting to Asia will put the Middle East in the rear-view mirror. It won’t. When tyrants and terrorists are persuaded the US is weak, they act. The time has come to change their minds.
Elliott Abrams is a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in Washington, DC. He served as deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security advisor in the administration of President George W. Bush, where he supervised U.S. policy in the Middle East for the White House, and as Special Representative for Iran and Venezuela in the administration of Donald Trump.