Scott Tibbs
Published in the Indiana Daily Student, December 1, 1997

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Don't ease up on Iran

Nov. 17, 61 tourists were murdered in Egypt. A group of gunmen randomly fired into a crowd of innocent people, brutally slaughtering men, women and children. This act of depravity reminds us in this uncertain world, mindless violence can strike without warning.

Even more, the United States needs to take a strong stand against international terrorism -- especially state-sponsored terrorism. With the growing threat of proliferation of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, terrorism in the next few years might reach unprecedented levels of destruction.

The United States must work to isolate those governments that sponsor terrorism and initiate a strong response when a foreign government backs terrorism. We cannot allow our national security to be put at risk or our citizens murdered by extremist groups who use violence as a means of political activism.

With the current situation in Iraq, President Clinton has said any attempts by the Iraqi army to shoot down a U-2 spy plane would be considered an act of war. Clinton stated any Iraqi attempts to kill our pilots would not be tolerated. But June 25, 1996, a truck bomb killed 19 American servicemen and wounded 240 other Americans. The bombing has since been linked to Iran, according to the Heritage Foundation. If the Iranian government was truly connected to this bombing, is that not an act of war? For Iraq to shoot down an American plane over its own territory, as much as we condemn the action, is much less of an attack on American armed forces than a state-sponsored plot to set off a bomb in the living quarters of American servicemen.

Iran cannot be allowed to get away with state-sponsored terrorism. President Clinton has talked tough in dealings with Iran but has been notoriously weak-willed when it comes to actual actions against the Iranians.

For example, Clinton did not strongly object to a proposed pipeline through Iran, a profitable opportunity for the Iranian regime, according to the Chicago Tribune. While Clinton has taken a stronger stance recently, his weak stance in August on this matter might have encouraged Iran.

There are signs Iran might be potentially more dangerous to American interests than Iraq. While Iraqi threats to shoot down American spy planes and Hussein's threats against Iraq's neighbors certainly present a security risk, Iraq does not engage in state-sponsored terrorism to the extent which Iran does. In many cases, Iraq's testing of U.N. sanctions can be seen as an attempt to play "ring and run" with the United States, while Iran actively supports groups such as Hezbollah, which has engaged in a campaign of terror against American civilians, military personnel and American allies. Israel already considers Iran a more dangerous threat than Iraq -- and for a good reason: Iraq, despite its condemnable actions, is not the sponsor of terrorism to the extent that Iran is.

And while we are justifiably concerned about the Iraqi regime's attempt to acquire weapons of mass destruction because of possible dealings of those materials to terrorists, Iran might actually be more dangerous. With their strengthening of ties with China, North Korea and Russia, Iran might be further along in developing weapons of mass destruction than Iraq. And recent history indicates Iran is more likely to use chemical or biological weapons through terrorists than Iraq, which is more inclined to use those weapons in a direct military confrontation.

The United States cannot afford to appear weak in dealing with terrorism, especially state-sponsored terrorism by the likes of Iran. We must take a strong stance on this issue, using military force if necessary to punish states that engage in terrorism. If shooting down a single spy plane is an act of war, than what is the bombing of military barracks?