Interviews with Daniel Pipes
Fox News: The O'Reilly Factor
Last Thursday, a ship carrying 50 tons of weapons was seized by the Israelis in the Red Sea. The weapons had Farsi markings, and the captured Palestinians on board say that Iran and the terrorist organization Hezbollah were sending the weapons to Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority.
Joining us now from Philadelphia is Daniel Pipes, the director of the Middle East Forum and a former State Department official.
You know, Mr. Pipes, no offense to you, but we wanted to get the spokesman for the PLO on to, you know, put him, put this question to him. He's been on a number of times on THE FACTOR. And he disappeared. This is, this is evidence. I-you know, most Americans, they don't - I don't think they're following this story very closely. But this is unbelievable. Isn't it?
DANIEL PIPES, DIRECTOR, MIDDLE EAST FORUM: It is incredible, and believe me, if I were the PLO representative, I would have run for the hills too.
O'REILLY: Yes, and they are. But there's no question Iran is fomenting terrorism, particularly against Israel. What should the United States do?
PIPES: You know, let's step back a minute. What the United States has done since September 11 and done very impressively, I might add, is to say that we have seen that militant Islam is our strategic, long-term, complicated enemy, and we're going to target it, we're going to defeat it in Afghanistan, we're going to defeat it in the Philippines, we're going to defeat it in the Palestinian Authority, we're going to defeat it in Saudi Arabia, we're going to defeat it at home.
And in that context, Iran has a very important role, because Iran is, after all, the first and most important state that's under the thumb of militant Islam.
O'REILLY: Yes, but Iran is different than the Philippines, and it's different than Saudi Arabia, and certainly different than the Palestinians.
Iran's a strong nation. I mean, they, they have a big military, they have support, particularly from the Russians, sophisticated weapons systems. And to go in there with any kind of military action is, is almost catastrophic at this point. Is it not?
PIPES: Right. When I said we have a war on militant Islam, I didn't mean that that war is everywhere going to be a military war. It will be a legal war, a diplomatic war, religious undertaking and cultural-you know, has many different aspects.
And in the case of Iran, what it clearly means is that we have to reunderstand that Islam is determined, long-term enemy of the United States. They've been fairly quiet. And it seemed like it's not such a bad...
O'REILLY: ... any sane American knows that Islamic fundamentalism is the enemy of the United States. Now, what would you do to Iran? Say you're President Bush. What's your strategy?
PIPES: What I would do is build up a reputation, as I have done in the last four months, that I am tough, I am determined, and I would then turn to the Iranians and say, I want a change in behavior or else.
O'REILLY: Or else what?
PIPES: Or else we will take steps that will be unpleasant for you.
O'REILLY: Like what?
PIPES: Well, we can, for example, start supporting the opposition. We have been very careful not to get anywhere near the Iranian opposition...
O'REILLY: What kind of opposition do they have? They have the shah's son in the United States running around. But they don't have much opposition over in Iran.
PIPES: Well, one of the things we've learned over the years is that opposition forces that don't seem very impressive become very impressive when the United States backs them, backs them. Need I point out the Northern Alliance, just three or four months ago looked like it was hapless.
O'REILLY: But remember the Northern Alliance wouldn't have done bupkes* unless we sent in the bombers to, to break the Taliban's spirit. Now, it doesn't seem to me that there's any structure inside Iran right now that threatens the mullahs at all.
PIPES: We don't have to be sending over the B-52s in order to have an impact. Whether it be Iraq or Iran, we can take the opposition-which, I agree with you, at this point is not a very powerful force-we can give it our support, be it financial or military, diplomatic, and things will start to happen.
That's one thing we can do. Another we-thing we can do is to tighten up the vise we have on Iranian exports of various sorts. We can watch for the import of arms. We can, we can pay a whole lot...
O'REILLY: How about a naval blockade? Because that's an easy country to blockade.
PIPES: Exactly. It's got a-it's-you can't get to Iran, basically, except for a few ports.
PIPES: There are a lot of things that we can do.
O'REILLY: So you could threaten them with that. Look, we catch you again shipping arms out to anybody that's going to use them for terrorist purposes, we're going to blockade your country.
PIPES: Bill, the really important thing is that for 20 years, since the time of Ayatollah Khomeini, we were taking hit after hit from the Iranians and...
PIPES: ... other militant Islamic groups and states. What we've done in the last four months is finally say, We've had it, we're got enough, and we're going to start protecting ourselves, standing by our friends, and intimidating our enemies.
O'REILLY: OK, Mr. Pipes...
PIPES: That's the key point.
O'REILLY: Yes. I agree with you, I think we have to do that.
* On "bupkes," see http://www.word-detective.com/052699.html