GUEST COLUMN: Swift U.S. support promotes a lasting peace

Published 4:00 am Sunday, October 15, 2023

By Sen. Roger Wicker | Guest Columnist

Like most Americans, I watched with grief and outrage as Iran-backed Hamas terrorists ruthlessly attacked the people of Israel.

Just before the sun rose on Oct. 7, Hamas launched a brutal surprise invasion. They fired 5,000 rockets in 20 minutes before rampaging door-to-door. They kidnapped, raped and murdered hundreds of innocent Israelis, including women, the elderly, infants and even a Holocaust survivor. Some immediately drew comparisons to our own surprise attacks, calling this Israel’s Pearl Harbor or 9/11.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

I stand with Israel and support its right to self-defense. In the aftermath of the violence, my office has been communicating with constituents concerned about family and friends in Israel. I encourage every American seeking information to visit and fill out the crisis intake form, which helps U.S. authorities keep track of citizens in-country.

American leaders in the House, Senate, and White House must present a united front against Hamas and its patron, the Supreme Leader of Iran. A swift, strong and sustained U.S. response is necessary to achieve justice against these acts of violence. This will also help keep other terrorist groups out of the war and ensure Israel’s survival.

There are signs that other Arab nations share these goals. After decades of conflict with Israel, other Middle Eastern countries have begun showing they want to live in peace and the prosperity that accompanies it. Agreements like President Trump’s Abraham Accords, joined by the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Israel, demonstrate this. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is eager to be seen as a modern business hub, and Jordan has been a longtime U.S. partner. And after the Oct. 7 attacks, Egypt continued what it began at the 1978 Camp David Accords by issuing a statement sympathetic to Israel.

These are encouraging developments. They give President Biden every reason to show strength in the Israel-Hamas war. The president should correct the message he sent in the 2021 Afghanistan withdrawal. That debacle told the world that we were not interested in taking an active role on the global stage. Iran would like to fill that vacuum in the Middle East, but American leadership could achieve a lasting peace.

The president will also never get a better opportunity to distance himself from Iran. Against the better judgment of congressional Republicans, the Biden administration has given the regime many opportunities to earn trust. Iran has squandered them all. Instead, the administration should end negotiations and reimpose stringent financial pressures.

I support returning to the tough sanctions President Trump placed on Iran’s oil exports. I have also signed onto congressional efforts to sanction individuals importing petroleum into that nation. In a recent prisoner swap, the president released $6 billion to Iran. Those funds have not yet landed in the Ayatollah’s bank account, and we should block them from ever being deposited there.

We must also match monetary discipline with a show of American force, and moving aircraft carriers into the Mediterranean Sea was a good start. Authoritarians around the world are watching our response. Our short-term goal should be to help Israel quickly eliminate the danger before other groups enter the conflict. To show long-term commitment, the president should send Congress a supplemental funding request that includes funds to secure our southern border as well as support for Israel, Taiwan and Ukraine.

Every day, we learn something worse about Hamas’ atrocities. In the face of these horrors, Israel has rallied. Its government has committed to eliminating Hamas’ terror threat. Their resolve is inspiring, and we should back them every step of the way.

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker has served as the senior senator for Mississippi since 2007.