LOUISVILLE, KY – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) authored the following op-ed that appeared Monday, October 9, 2023 in The Wall Street Journal.
As hundreds of Iranian-backed terrorists stormed into Israel on Saturday to butcher children and elders, kidnap Israeli civilians, and parade the naked bodies of the women they murdered through the streets of Gaza, many of their fellow Palestinians and supporters around the world cheered.
The world has once again seen the face of evil. Those blessed to live in the democratic West must understand that this barbarism, like that we have witnessed in Russia’s war against Ukraine, threatens all of us. And the civilized world must offer Israel more than rhetorical solidarity.
There are practical steps the United States and our allies and partners across the world can take to help Israel.
First, distinguish between the aggressor and the victim. There can be no calls for “both sides” to de-escalate. Israel deserves the time and space to defend itself.
Second, quickly provide the specific capabilities and intelligence support Israel needs to target and destroy these savages. As we have seen in Ukraine, failure to act decisively can prolong the conflict and compound the costs of war. Can anyone seriously argue we shouldn’t have provided Ukraine with Javelins, Stingers, Himars, tanks and air defenses sooner? Israel’s requirements in this war will be different from Ukraine’s. The deployment of the USS Ford carrier strike group to the eastern Mediterranean and announcement of munitions transfers to Israel are good first steps.
Third, make America’s national defense a priority. It’s past time for the Biden administration to recognize that while war is expensive, failure costs more. President Biden has requested three consecutive budgets that cut defense spending in real terms while substantially increasing nondefense spending.
There is still time to act. Congress has the opportunity this fall to provide emergency appropriations to the Defense Department so that it can assist partners like Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan, as well as invest in our own military capabilities. This should include significant replenishment funding, which allows us to expand and modernize our own weapons inventories. It should also include investments to expand our ability to produce critical munitions, long-range fires, and other essential defense technologies here in America.
Finally, focus on Iran. There are already indications this war was orchestrated with considerable assistance from Tehran. The world’s most active state sponsor of terror has long provided training and lethal aid to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, just as it has with Hezbollah in Syria and Lebanon and numerous Iraqi and Yemeni proxies. We recognize the deepening partnership between Tehran and Moscow. The same Iranian drones of death Tehran has provided to its terrorist proxies are being used by Russia to inflict terror on Ukraine’s cities.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei himself has said, “God willing, the cancer of the usurper Zionist regime will be eradicated at the hands of the Palestinian people and the Resistance forces throughout the region.” Hamas’s spokesman has also publicly expressed thanks for Iran’s lethal support.
Only the day before this Iranian-backed barbarism, Narges Mohammadi, an imprisoned Iranian women’s rights activist, won the Nobel Peace Prize. Since the nationwide uprising of Iranians protesting the clerical regime’s brutal control and the killing of Mahsa Amini in September 2022, rhetorical support and solidarity has poured out across Europe and the U.S. Rightly so. But symbolic virtue-signaling of support isn’t enough. We must also put meaningful pressure on the regime to change its behavior at home and abroad.
The civilized world must impose real costs on terrorists and those who support or condone them. There should be no haven for Iran’s agents of death. The West should reimpose extensive multilateral sanctions on Tehran and deny Iranian planes overflight rights. Impound the shipping vessels Iran uses to circumvent sanctions. Close Iranian banks with access to the West, and cease the Iranian operations of European businesses. Treat Iranian officials like pariahs and sink Iranian naval boats that threaten international shipping.
In the days and weeks ahead, the brave people of Israel will continue to reclaim their territory, rescue their countrymen, and mourn the innocent men, women and children the terrorists have slaughtered. They deserve the support of the free world, in both word and deed.
To read McConnell's Op-Ed in The Wall Street Journal Click here .