Fox News on January 10, 2012, published an article by Micael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute on Iran’s future plans. Excerpts below:

Addressing pilgrims on November 5, 2011, — Iran’s Supreme Leader cited American “failures” in Iraq and Afghanistan as proof that, “Today, the West, the United States and Zionism are weaker than ever before.”

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad went further, declaring the American retreat was not enough. “So long as the American empire based in the White House has not been overthrown, we have work to do,” he thundered.

In the weeks since, the Islamic Republic has ratcheted up both its rhetoric and its defiance.

Iranian defiance has been particularly shrill on the nuclear issue. Tehran dismissed as illegitimate the most recent International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report which listed a litany of Iranian activities that appear geared more to a weapons program and less to energy production. In the wake of the report, even Chinese and Russian diplomats find it difficult to maintain the fiction that Iran’s nuclear program is motivated solely by energy needs.

Generating electricity to power factories does not require designing bomb triggers.

Iranian antagonism toward the United States took an even more dangerous turn in the Persian Gulf.

On December 28, 2011, Iranian authorities threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, the 34-mile wide waterway through which more than one-third of the world’s oil tanker traffic passes.

While Iranian authorities have threatened traffic in the Strait before, they have not done so in almost a quarter century, since President Ronald Reagan responded with force—through Operation Praying Mantis—to defend international waters in the Persian Gulf, handing the Iranian navy the worst defeat in its history.

That Iranian officials would once against threaten a U.S. warship suggests that Tehran no longer believes the United States has the will or ability to defend its interests.

Secure behind its own nuclear deterrent, Iranian authorities may pursue their ideological goals with impunity. It is one thing for an American aircraft carrier to defy Iranian demands and face down lightly-armed speedboats, but is quite another to risk a confrontation with a trigger-happy nuclear power.

In recent years, Iranian officials have revived a centuries-old territorial claim to the island nation of Bahrain, home to America’s 5th Fleet, utilizing much the same rhetoric which Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein once used to describe Kuwait.

Ahmadinejad’s travels through Latin America should also raise a red flag in American national security circles. When the Obama administration proposed setting up a red phone hotline to lessen the chance for conflict spinning out-of-control in the Persian Gulf, Ali Fadavi, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps naval chief dismissed the gesture, declaring that the best way to avoid conflict in the Persian Gulf would be for the United States to evacuate all its forces. He added, however, that once Iranian ships sailed into the Gulf of Mexico, Iranian authorities would consider a red phone hotline to U.S. forces in that region.

If Iranian rhetoric is to be believed, a replay of the Cuban missile crisis could be around the corner, a half century after President Kennedy stared down Soviet counterpart Nikita Khrushchev.

Iranian bluster is bad enough. When Tehran is able to put substance behind it, American interests will truly be in peril. The question for Obama and the Republicans seeking to replace him is whether the United States can bear an Iranian challenge which will grow exponentially once Iran goes nuclear.


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