Iran is a key member of the “axis of evil,
” along with China, Russia, and North Korea. It is living up to the name.
On Nov. 22, Human Rights Watch
released a report on Iranian police arresting, hunting down, and attacking children who took part in anti-regime protests. “Security forces fired ‘birdshot’ shotgun pellets, rubber bullets, and tear gas and beat and otherwise assaulted protesters on September 29, 2023, and again on October 20,” according to Human Rights Watch.
The organization noted that the regime targeted ethnic minorities in particular. “Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that security forces shot at protesters with birdshot and paintball pellets to their upper bodies, beat them with batons, and arrested large numbers of protesters, including children.”
Street protests in Iran to support unveiled women have been brutally suppressed, including with mass arrests, beatings, and torture. Iranian officials chase, expel, and fire participating college students and professors. According to the Atlantic Council
, the regime is waging “war on university professors and academic staff by a secret quasi-academic militia organization.” Since the January peak of protests, approximately 110 university professors in Iran have been fired or suspended. “This war on academic staff coincided with the nationwide expulsion and suspension of thousands of students during the post-protest period.”
The mullahs who control Iran, a theocracy, are expanding their attacks outside its borders as well. They provide weapons and training to terror groups that act as Iranian proxies, including Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen, and similar entities in Syria and Iraq. Many of these groups have attacked U.S. and allied forces in the region, as well as civilian targets in Israel, Saudi Arabia, and those undergoing maritime transit.
Most recently, a Japanese cargo ship
traveling between Turkey and India was boarded by Houthi terrorists who were dropped off by helicopter—an indicator of Iranian training. They carried machine guns and threatened crew members from Bulgaria, Ukraine, Romania, the Philippines, and Mexico. The crew is still held hostage, along with the ship, in a Yemeni port.
Iranian violence reaches directly into Europe. Iran is supplying Russia with drones and now potentially advanced short-range ballistic missiles
for its attacks on civilians in Ukraine.
A Spanish politician
who took a strong stand against the mullahs was shot in the face this month in Madrid by a rider who escaped on the back of a motorcycle. The politician accused Iran of the attempted assassination. The Iranian regime allegedly planned a 2022 assassination attempt on U.S. territory against a journalist in New York
and has allegedly been involved in illegal activities on Canadian territory.
Tehran has long sought nuclear weapons and is now enriching uranium to levels consistent with that goal, along with kicking out some of the toughest U.N. inspectors
from the country. “Uranium enrichment is the heart of Iran’s nuclear program, and the process by which uranium is purified to levels as high as 60%, close to the roughly 90% that is weapons-grade,” according to Voice of America. “Iran denies seeking nuclear weapons but no other state has enriched to that level without producing them.” Iran is also bragging about its new hypersonic missile
that can evade ballistic missile defense systems.
The Iranian people are not to blame, though one could argue that they should have removed the mullahs long ago. Instead, Iranians are voting with their feet. A massive brain and capital drain, including entrepreneurs and nurses, is now flowing from the country. Emigration is at record rates
, with the number of asylum seekers growing by 44 percent in 2022.
The mullahs are so morally bankrupt as to potentially be seeding regional violence to distract attention from growing Iranian civil society attempts to unseat them. The mullahs may actually want a U.S. and allied attack on Iran as it could strengthen their position domestically.
That should make us think twice. But, given that Iran is attacking U.S. and allied forces so directly, the mullahs leave us with few other options. Already, the Biden administration is hitting Iranian proxies in Syria and Iraq
. But we should go further.
At the very least, the United States should not allow Iran to go nuclear. Given the persistent and unprovoked Iranian attacks on the United States and our allies, we could reasonably target their nuclear energy and weapons infrastructure with more than cyber attacks. We cannot afford to be surprised by an Iranian nuclear weapon on a hypersonic missile that could hit Tel Aviv, Riyadh, New York, or Washington.
That threat would completely change the balance of power in the Middle East, if not the world, and needs to be nipped in the bud.
Additionally, U.S. leadership needs to consider hitting Iran’s conventional weapons factories, including those that supply Russian, Hamas, and Hezbollah terrorists with the drones, missiles, and other weapons used against U.S. and allied service members and civilians in Ukraine and the Middle East. Not taking action against Iran is a sign of U.S. weakness and will only encourage the expansion of terrorism around the world, including on the part of North Korea and the Chinese Communist Party.
As the “axis of evil” increases its nuclear capabilities, fields hypersonic missiles, and engages with terrorist proxies, there may not be much time before a terrorist or rogue regime uses a nuclear weapon against an American city. If three big ones were hit simultaneously, it could be the end of the United States as a global superpower and guarantor of international security.
We sometimes forget that the only constant in history is change and risk. The Biden administration is rightly attempting to avoid the intensification or geographic expansion of wars in Israel and Ukraine. What makes democracies superior to dictatorships is that we always prefer peace to war. Unfortunately, we cannot at the same time fail to defend ourselves and our allies. Down the path of appeasement and retreat lies even worse threats ahead.
Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.