This week, while President Obama announces a major change in American national security strategy, a situation halfway around the world is rapidly reaching the point of no return: The Islamic Republic of Iran is racing down the home stretch towards acquiring the nuclear weapons with which they wish to dominate the Middle East.

During a recent visit to Kuwait, Secretary of State Clinton stated plainly that the United States recognizes Iran for what it is: a military dictatorship.

This is a positive step for the United States, but Iran still has its apologists.

Among the most prominent is Brazilian President Lula da Silva, who, between congratulating Ahmadinejad for the fraudulent electoral victory on a visit to the Islamic Republic, was able to parrot Tehran's fantastic narrative of peaceful nuclear development.

What leader can allow themselves to be complicit in this fraud of a government which denies the most basic rights to its people while spending millions abroad sponsoring terrorism?

Lula is not alone in either supporting Tehran's despots, or shielding the regime from international pressure. But as the leader of a Western democracy, his defense of the murderous Mullahs is worrisome.

One is not shocked when China and Russia, whose track records on human rights are abysmal at best, provide diplomatic cover for Iran's nuclear aspirations. When Russian companies profit from Iran's weapons acquisitions, and China's economic growth requires an uninterrupted flow of Iranian crude oil, the lack of incentive for non-proliferation becomes apparent. But the loss of a reliable client, or a source of cheap oil, is significantly cheaper than a nuclear war, which is the endgame that Iran's homicidal leaders seek.

If one wonders what Iran's Revolutionary Guards intend to do after acquiring nuclear warheads, besides mounting them on ballistic missiles and targeting every city from Cairo to Tel Aviv to Istanbul, then look no further than the behavior of the regime for the past several years.

Since the presidential election in June, 2009, indiscriminate violence against Iranian citizens, including the use of rape as an extra-judicial punishment, firing on unarmed groups of protesters, mock executions to coerce confessions, and the taking hostage of small children, have become regularly practiced tools of suppression. Abroad, the actions of Iran's military hard-line are just as alarming.

From Lebanon, Hezbollah operatives fire Iranian-supplied Katyusha rockets far into civilian areas of Israel. These terrifying missiles scream overhead and crash into Israeli schools, farms, and neighborhoods.

Iranian funding for Hamas, the terrorist militia whose political wing now runs the Gaza Strip, is a proven fact. Hamas commanders have admitted that they regularly send their young recruits to Iran for advanced training in bomb-making and urban-warfare tactics.

The specter of Iranian-sponsored violence can be felt even deep in the jungles of South America, where Iranian weapons have been linked to the FARC, a terrorist group whose war against Colombia has claimed the lives of thousands. It is also alleged that regular flights connecting Tehran, Damascus, and Caracas are ferrying Iranian military scientists and bankers into Venezuela, providing Iran with a sanctuary in which to skirt international sanctions.

Tehran's funding and terror-tactics have been linked to Shiite militias in Iraq, where roadside bombs known as explosively-formed penetrators have caused the deaths of hundreds of American and British soldiers. Coalition commanders have acknowledged that Iranian factories are mass producing EFP's to be used in combat and to undermine the elected government in Baghdad.

The violent ideology of the Islamic Revolution has been exported to other states as well: Iranian funds have even been linked to extremist Sunni groups inside of Egypt, and the fiercely anti-American al-Houthi rebels in Yemen.

The aggressive foreign policy of Tehran has worried its neighbors, and possibly triggered the beginning of a Middle Eastern nuclear arms race. Regional rivals Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey view with apprehension Iran's belligerent missile tests, and grandiose anouncements of uranium enrichment, while worrying for their security. Nuclear energy programs have sprung up in a dozen Middle Eastern states, ostensibly for energy-generating purposes, but perhaps serving as a quiet insurance policy against a nuclear Iran.

The current government in Iran exists by brute force and lacks any semblance of a democratic mandate. This regime threatens its neighbors and abuses its citizens, and while certain members of the international community wish to protect the status quo, thousands of brave, young Iranians are daily protesting the dangerous road down which Iran's rulers are dragging the world.

I only hope change comes quickly enough. No less than world peace is at stake.

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