William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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A WARNING – AT 9:04 A.M. ET:  We constantly caution our readers about averting their eyes from international threats, as we tangle with domestic issues.   One of the major threats is Iran, and Iranian influence is on our doorstep.  From The Hill:

The House voted Tuesday to require the State Department to come up with a plan for thwarting Iran's activities in the Western Hemisphere, which many say pose an increasing threaten to U.S. interests.

Members passed H.R. 3783, the Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act, by an overwhelming 386-6 vote. Only five Republicans and one Democrat voted against the bill, which needed and easily got a two-thirds majority vote.

The only "no" votes were from Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), John Duncan (R-Tenn.), Walter Jones (R-N.C.), Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), Tom Massie (R-Ky.), and Ron Paul (R-Texas.).

The bill makes it U.S. policy to counter Iran's presence in Central and South America, and requires State to assess this threat and devise a strategy for countering it. Several supporters of the bill took to the House floor Tuesday to argue that the bill is needed to limit Iran's options for fostering relationships among the United States's southern neighbors.

"Iran's [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad made two trips to latin America this year in an attempt to garner support from his fellow tyrants — the Castro brothers in Cuba, Ortega in Nicaragua, Correa in Ecuador, Chavez in Venezuela, and Morales in Bolivia," House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) said.

COMMENT:  Excellent move, but it probably will die in the Senate or be thwarted by the foreign-policy establishment.   Iran is establishing intelligence bases in Latin and Central America.  It may well establish military bases, which could include missile-launching sites.

Or, Iran could use clandestine bases in Latin America to smuggle weapons of mass destruction across our southern border.  That is not a fantasy or a fairy tale.  Modern nuclear devices, for example, are quite small and some can fit into the trunk of a compact car.  They could be smuggled complete, or in pieces, and could change our world in a matter of seconds.

We are not serious enough about these things.  The House move is a reminder, but we need much more.

December 20, 2012