Actually, I wrote this story for the WSJ. You know that Samuel Clemens wrote under the name Mark Twain. My pen name is Naftali Bennbett.
You probably guessed that having read my recent stories about Iran.
The U.S. and Israel Need to Take Iran On Directly
Make the ayatollahs pay for sowing chaos through their Hamas, Hezbollah and Houthi proxies.
By Naftali Bennett
Dec. 28, 2023 6:05 pm ET
Hamas and Islamic Jihad, backed by Iran, massacred 1,200 Israelis on Oct. 7, resulting in full-scale war in Gaza. Hezbollah, also backed by Iran, has launched more than 1,000 rockets at northern Israeli communities since then, risking regional conflagration. Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen are attacking and hijacking ships in the Suez canal, threatening one of the world’s most vital waterways. Militias in Syria and Iraq, with support from Iran, are attacking U.S. bases and—as always—threatening moderate Arab nations.
Notice a pattern? The Iranian regime is at the center of most of the Middle East’s problems and much of global terror. Yet inexplicably, almost nobody is touching it. For the past 45 years, the regime has been the source of endless war, terror and suffering throughout the world. I’ve come to realize that enough is enough. The evil empire of Iran must be brought down.
As a young officer in Israel’s special forces, I spent a great deal of time fighting Hezbollah, Iran’s Lebanese proxy. I studied its methods and vulnerabilities. I targeted its commanders and fighters. In 2006, as a reservist, I commanded a special search and destroy team in the second Lebanon War.
Only after that war, in which I lost my best friend, did I begin to realize our great folly. We were fighting the wrong battle, and that is exactly what Iran wants us to do.
In the late 1980s, Iran embarked on a simple yet brilliant strategy: Set up terrorist proxies across the Middle East. Fund them, train them and arm them. Let them do the dirty work of fighting and dying.
Iran executed this plan well. There is little direct war taking place between Iran and Israel. Instead, Iran constantly attacks Israel via its proxies in such places as Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Gaza and Yemen. Its brutal Quds unit exported terror around the globe. Iran’s terrorist proxies have waged war on every moderate element in the Middle East. They’ve attacked the Saudi oil company Aramco, the United Arab Emirates, the Kurds and Israel on many occasions. The most amazing part: Iran has largely gotten away with it.
There is a new cold war taking place in the Middle East. On one side, there is a corrupt, incompetent and hollow empire—the Islamic Republic of Iran—similar to the Soviet Union in the 1980s. On the other side, there is a thriving, free and strong democracy—Israel (and its allies)—reminiscent of the U.S. in the original Cold War.
When I became prime minister in June 2021, I decided to change this. I told my three security chiefs—the heads of the Israel Defense Forces, Mossad and Shin Bet—that my goal was to avoid, if reasonably possible, local clashes with Hezbollah and Hamas. Rather, Israel’s national-security resources must be focused on weakening our primary enemy—Iran.
There are many ways to weaken Iran: empower domestic opposition, ensure internet continuity during riots against the regime, strengthen its enemies, increase sanctions and economic pressures. But Israel can’t and shouldn’t do this alone. The U.S. should be leading the effort. This doesn’t require a full-scale war, just as the demise of the Soviet Union didn’t result from total war. Rather, the Soviet Union collapsed from internal rot coupled with external pressure applied by the U.S.
As prime minister, I made another decision regarding Iran. I directed Israel’s security forces to make Tehran pay for its decision to sponsor terror. Enough impunity. After Iran launched two failed UAV attacks on Israel in February 2022, Israel destroyed a UAV base on Iranian soil. In March 2022, Iran’s terror unit attempted to kill Israeli tourists in Turkey and failed. Shortly thereafter, the commander of that very unit was assassinated in the center of Tehran.
It turns out that Iran’s tyrants are softer than one might expect. They gleefully send others to die for them. But when they’re hit at home, suddenly they become timid.
The U.S. and Israel must set the clear goal of bringing down Iran’s evil regime. Not only is this possible. It is vital for the safety and security of the Middle East—and the entire civilized world.
Mr. Bennett served as Israel’s prime minister, 2021-22.