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WILL ISRAEL ATTACK IRAN? Must read story in the Sunday New York Times

In Uncategorized on January 29, 2012 at 5:54 am

>> See below for resources on Israel, Iran and Bible prophecy.

UPDATED: The Sunday New York Times magazine has published a must-read story by Israeli journalist Ronen Bergman, one of the most respected Israeli journalists following the Iran story over several decades. It is headlined, “Will Israel Attack Iran?” Bergman’s conclusion: “After speaking with many senior Israeli leaders and chiefs of the military and the intelligence, I have come to believe that Israel will indeed strike Iran in 2012. Perhaps in the small and ever-diminishing window that is left, the United States will choose to intervene after all, but here, from the Israeli perspective, there is not much hope for that. Instead there is that peculiar Israeli mixture of fear — rooted in the sense that Israel is dependent on the tacit support of other nations to survive — and tenacity, the fierce conviction, right or wrong, that only the Israelis can ultimately defend themselves.”

Excerpts from the article’s first page:

  • As the Sabbath evening approached on Jan. 13, Ehud Barak paced the wide living-room floor of his home high above a street in north Tel Aviv, its walls lined with thousands of books on subjects ranging from philosophy and poetry to military strategy. Barak, the Israeli defense minister, is the most decorated soldier in the country’s history and one of its most experienced and controversial politicians. He has served as chief of the general staff for the Israel Defense Forces, interior minister, foreign minister and prime minister. He now faces, along with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and 12 other members of Israel’s inner security cabinet, the most important decision of his life — whether to launch a pre-emptive attack against Iran. We met in the late afternoon, and our conversation — the first of several over the next week — lasted for two and a half hours, long past nightfall. ‘This is not about some abstract concept,’ Barak said as he gazed out at the lights of Tel Aviv, ‘but a genuine concern. The Iranians are, after all, a nation whose leaders have set themselves a strategic goal of wiping Israel off the map.’….
  • Netanyahu and Barak have both repeatedly stressed that a decision has not yet been made and that a deadline for making one has not been set. As we spoke, however, Barak laid out three categories of questions, which he characterized as ‘Israel’s ability to act,’ ‘international legitimacy’ and ‘necessity,’ all of which require affirmative responses before a decision is made to attack:
  • 1.) Does Israel have the ability to cause severe damage to Iran’s nuclear sites and bring about a major delay in the Iranian nuclear project? And can the military and the Israeli people withstand the inevitable counterattack?
  • 2.) Does Israel have overt or tacit support, particularly from America, for carrying out an attack?
  • 3.) Have all other possibilities for the containment of Iran’s nuclear threat been exhausted, bringing Israel to the point of last resort? If so, is this the last opportunity for an attack?
  • For the first time since the Iranian nuclear threat emerged in the mid-1990s, at least some of Israel’s most powerful leaders believe that the response to all of these questions is yes….

I would urge you to read the whole story, pray over it, share it with friends and discuss its implications. It’s that important. It reads, in part, like portions of The Tehran Initiative — but this is real life, and it is very sobering.

NOTE: I’m in Jacksonville, Florida, today at a national pastors conference. During the final session which begins at 5pm eastern, I will give the final message on “The Pastor and the Future”. My text will be Daniel chapter 5, “the handwriting on the wall” and I’ll be speaking on the lessons we can draw from the prophecies about Daniel and how to apply them to the handwriting on the wall we currently see with regards to the mounting tensions between Israel and Iran, and the growing risk of the American economy and society imploding. In that context, I’d be grateful for your prayers and later I’ll post my notes for the message.

ALSO WORTH NOTING: An important story in the London Telegraph: Iran moving closer to stage where it will be too late to destroy nuclear facilities, Israel warns; Iran is moving closer to the point when it will be too late to destroy its nuclear facilities with a precision air strike, Israel’s defence minister has warned”

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RESOURCES ON ISRAEL, IRAN AND BIBLE PROPHECY

STATE OF THE UNION: IS AMERICA AT RISK OF IMPLOSION?

In Uncategorized on January 25, 2012 at 4:21 pm

Is America facing implosion?

UPDATE: Senator Chuck Schumer says America is in “great shape.” Do you agree with that, or is America in danger of collapse or an implosion?

Two words jumped out at me in listening to the President’s State of the Union address, and the Republican response: “collapse” and “implode.” Did they strike you, too?

In 2008, the house of cards collapsed,” President Obama told the nation. “We learned that mortgages had been sold to people who couldn’t afford or understand them. Banks had made huge bets and bonuses with other people’s money. Regulators had looked the other way, or didn’t have the authority to stop the bad behavior. It was wrong. It was irresponsible. And it plunged our economy into a crisis that put millions out of work, saddled us with more debt, and left innocent, hardworking Americans holding the bag.” The President did not use the occassion to offer a plan to reform Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid, or end deficits of $1 trillion or more, or deal with the $65 trillion of unfunded liabilities hurtling towards us. Yet he vigorously made the case that “the state of our Union is getting stronger.”

Is the President right? Are things improving significantly enough to avoid another — and possibly far worse — collapse of the American economy? Not according to Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels. In his response to the President, Daniels argued that “the mortal enemies of Social Security and Medicare are those who, in contempt of the plain arithmetic, continue to mislead Americans that we should change nothing. Listening to them much longer will mean that these proud programs implode, and take the American economy with them. It will mean that coming generations are denied the jobs they need in their youth and the protection they deserve in their later years.” He added: “On these evenings, Presidents naturally seek to find the sunny side of our national condition. But when President Obama claims that the state of our union is anything but grave, he must know in his heart that this is not true. The President did not cause the economic and fiscal crises that continue in America tonight. But he was elected on a promise to fix them, and he cannot claim that the last three years have made things anything but worse: the percentage of Americans with a job is at the lowest in decades. One in five men of prime working age, and nearly half of all persons under 30, did not go to work today. In three short years, an unprecedented explosion of spending, with borrowed money, has added trillions to an already unaffordable national debt. And yet, the President has put us on a course to make it radically worse in the years ahead.”

Setting partisan politics aside for the moment, this is a discussion Americans urgently need to have: When it comes to our spiritual, moral and economic health, is America slowly and steadily improving and therefore should stay on our current course? Or are we in grave danger of moral, spiritual and economic collapse — at growing risk of imploding — and thus in need of a dramatic course correction before it is too late? These are the very questions at the heart of my new non-fiction book that will release on June 12th, Implosion: Can America Recover From Its Economic and Spiritual Challenges In Time? But given the high stakes, I don’t feel comfortable waiting for the book to release to begin engaging people in these issues. Lord willing, I will begin an effort to engage the American Church this coming weekend at a national pastors conference in Jacksonville, Florida. I’m really looking forward to this. There are some wonderful pastors addressing the event, including David Platt (author of the fantastic book, Radical: Taking Your Faith Back From The American Dream), Erwin Lutzer, Jim Cymbala, Tommy Nelson and our host, Mac Brunson. I’ve been asked to speak on “The Pastor and the Future,” and plan to focus on the enormous threats facing the United States and Israel and how the Church should respond in light of Bible prophecy. Washington and Wall Street bear much blame for the mess we are in, but doesn’t the Church as well? If the American Church was healthy and strong — faithfully walking with Jesus Christ, obeying the Scriptures, preaching the Gospel, and making disciples — wouldn’t the American society be stronger and healthier? Can we really hope that the 2012 elections will solve our problems and rescue our nation, or ought we start praying and fasting for a Third Great Awakening? To help seed the conversation, and to encourage churches throughout the country to start discussing such issues, each pastor at the conference will receive a sneak preview of the first three chapters of my book. We’ll also have a time of Q&A. Soon, we’ll post a sneak preview online at www.joelrosenberg.com so you process the same material and share it with your family and friends. I’d be grateful for your prayers as I head to Jacksonville tomorrow. Please pray that I can communicate clearly and effectively the gravity of the threats we face. Please pray, too, that I can communicate the power of our great God to save us and heal our land if we will humble ourselves and pray and seek God’s face and turn from our wicked ways, according to 2 Chronicles 7:14. Thanks so much.

IS NETANYAHU’S PATIENCE WITH IRAN RUNNING OUT? New speech worth noting as tensions in Mideast rise.

In Uncategorized on January 24, 2012 at 5:23 pm

Does Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu think the West is taking decisive action to stop Iran from getting the Bomb, or does he think the West is fiddling while Tel Aviv runs the rising risk of burning? That’s the Big Question as tensions continue to mount in the epicenter this week. Iran is making new threats to close the Strait of Hormuz to oil shipments, just days after test-firing missiles over the Strait. The U.S., Britain and France are sending additional naval forces  into the Gulf. The European Union is taking new steps to impose an oil embargo on Iran. The U.S. is taking steps to sanction Iran’s third largest bank, though dragging its feet on actually sanctioning Iran’s Central Bank. Adding to the regional tensions, Russia is lashing out at the EU and selling $550 million worth of arms to one of Iran’s key regional allies. Will such Western moves be enough to stop Iran from building an arsenal of nuclear weapons? Personally, I’m not convinced. Such moves would have been good a few years ago. Now they strike me as too little too late, especially after the Obama White House disastrous decision recently to cancel joint military exercises with Israel for fear of being “too provocative” towards Iran. But it doesn’t matter what I think. What matters is what Netanyahu thinks. If he decides the West isn’t doing enough and Iran is going to get the Bomb, then he is going to hit Iran hard, soon, and without warning.

In that context, it’s worth noting a speech Netanyahu gave Tuesday warning his nation that the world has not internalized the lessons of the Holocaust. “Speaking at the Knesset just days before  International Holocaust Remembrance Day (January 27), Netanyahu reasoned that the Jewish people must not put their fate in the hands of the  international community,” reported the Jerusalem Post. “Posing a rhetorical question, Netanyahu asked, ‘How does the world react to the calls for genocide against the Jews today? Seventy years after the shoa [Holocaust], Iran is calling for us to be wiped off the map, Hezbollah is calling for our extinction, as are many in Hamas….The Jerusalem Mufti [Sheikh Muhammad Hussein] called on Sunday for Jews to be killed wherever they are…echoing his predecessor Haj Amin Al Husseini, who actively helped Hitler and Eichman,’ he said. ‘I do not hear the international community condemning this. I hear them  condemning buildings in the West Bank. But I don’t hear them condemning  this incitement,’ said Netanyahu.”

Could Netanyahu be signaling that his patience — and that of the Israeli government and military — is running out?

Worth noting: “Two Iranian lawmakers on Monday stepped up threats their country would close the strategic Strait of Hormuz, through which a fifth of the world’s crude flows, in retaliation for oil sanctions on Tehran,” reports Haaretz. “The warnings came as EU nations agreed in Brussels on an oil embargo against Iran as part of sanctions over the country’s controversial nuclear program. The measure includes an immediate embargo on new contracts for Iranian crude and petroleum products while existing ones will be allowed to run until July. Iran has repeatedly warned it would choke off the strait if sanctions affect its oil sales, and two lawmakers ratcheted up the rhetoric on Monday….For its part, the United States has enacted, but not yet put into force, sanctions targeting Iran’s central bank and, by extension, the country’s ability to be paid for its oil. Some 80 percent of Iran’s oil revenue comes from exports and any measures or sanctions taken that affect its ability to export oil could hit hard at its economy. With about 4 million barrels per day, Iran is the second largest producer in OPEC.”

SAYING GOODBYE TO A FRIEND

In Uncategorized on January 20, 2012 at 6:59 pm
Lynn and I just attended a beautiful memorial service and funeral for our friend, Cindy Cofer. We will miss her, and we’re praying for the Lord to comfort her dear husband, Frank, and their three daughters. It was wonderful to hear her friends’ tributes, and her daughters’ tributes, and Frank’s lovely tribute to her. Sweet stories of good memories. But it’s hard to say goodbye to a friend. The good news is that her family knows — and we know — that Cindy is in heaven with Jesus because she believed in her heart that Jesus is the Messiah. She put her full faith in Jesus Christ and received Him as her Savior when she was young. She trusted Him completely to forgive her sins, and served the Lord faithfully for many years. The Bible says, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become the children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” (John 1:12) And Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26) That’s the central question, isn’t it: Do you believe this? Funerals are hard. They make us come face to face with our own mortality. But funerals are important. Because they make us come face to face with our own mortality. The simple hard fact is this: we’re not going to live forever in this world. The question is whether you will spend eternity in Heaven with the Lord, or eternity in Hell separated from the Lord forever. I am so grateful that Cindy has been in heaven since Tuesday. And I have to ask on a day like today: Where will you be? Do you know for certain? Is there any doubt? There doesn’t have to be. Let today be the day you receive Jesus Christ and your Savior and thus be absolutely certain that you will go to heaven when you breathe your last breath on this earth. Here’s a link to a simple, clear explanation of the Gospel. Read it. Process it. Bow your head and pray to receive Christ in your heart. And then tell someone what you did and begin to read the New Testament every day and learn more about who Jesus is and how He wants you to live for Him. God bless you.

WHITE HOUSE MAKES 2 NEW MISTAKES ON IRAN

In Uncategorized on January 16, 2012 at 9:12 pm

>> Rating the GOP presidential candidates on the Iran issue

The White House has made two new and serious mistakes on Iran in recent days:

  1. The Obama administration has just canceled joint military exercises with the Israelis.
  2. The Obama administration has both denied killing a top-ranking Iranian nuclear scientist and condemned the scientist’s assassination.

Given that U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says Iran could have the Bomb by the end of 2012, the U.S. should intensifying pressure on the evil regime in Tehran. This would include dramatically escalating covert ops inside Iran, and making preparations for possible air strikes if there are no other alternatives to neutralizing the Iran threat. Instead, the senior team at the White House just blinked — twice — showing weakness instead of resolve. They have also made it more likely, not less, that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu may conclude this year that he has no other choice but to launch a massive first strike against Iran. Thus: The United States has stepped up contingency planning in case Israel launches a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday. According to the report, U.S. defense officials are becoming increasingly concerned that Israel is preparing to carry out such a strike.” At the moment, Army General Martin Dempsey, the new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is heading to Israel for talks about Iran.

Meanwhile, “Israeli Cabinet Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Sunday he was disappointed that the U.S. has not expanded sanctions to further damage Iran’s central bank and its energy industry. He also suggested that the Obama  administration hasn’t been as forceful as Britain and France in  imposing sanctions. ‘In the United States, the Senate passed a resolution, by a majority of 100-to-1, to impose these sanctions, and in the U.S. administration there is hesitation for fear of  oil prices rising this year, out of election-year considerations,’ Ya’alon told  Israel Radio, according to Haaretz newspaper. ‘In that regard, this is certainly  a disappointment, for now.'”

This is exactly why I’m saying we’d better keep praying for peace, while preparing ourselves for war.

CAR BOMB KILLS IRANIAN NUCLEAR SCIENTIST: Updated

In Uncategorized on January 11, 2012 at 5:16 pm

>>  Iranian president arrives in Cuba; U.S. warns of ‘dangerous alliance’

UPDATED: Another headline this morning ripped from the pages of my two recent novels, The Twelfth Imam and The Tehran Initiative. This one from the BBC: Iran car explosion kills nuclear scientist in Tehran. Excerpt: “A university lecturer and nuclear scientist has been killed in a car explosion in north Tehran. Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan, an academic who also worked at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility, and the driver of the car were killed in the attack. The blast happened after a motorcyclist stuck an apparent bomb to the car. Several Iranian nuclear scientists have been assassinated in recent years, with Iran blaming Israel and the US. Both countries deny the accusations….” FLASHBACK FROM DEC 2011: COVERT WAR HEATS UP IN IRAN AND MIDEAST: Will it be enough to neutralize nuclear threat, or will Israel launch preemptive strikes in 2012?

A TIME FOR CHOOSING: Implosion or revival?

In Uncategorized on January 10, 2012 at 6:54 pm

What will you choose?

Are you praying (even fasting) today for America, for Israel and for the nations of the epicenter? Are you praying specifically for the Lord to raise up leaders who will get America back on the right track economically, spiritually and morally? Are you praying for a massive spiritual revival — a Third Great Awakening — that will turn hearts of millions back to true, sincere, saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and will once again make America the “shining city on a hill” she was for so long?

The blunt truth is this: We are in deep trouble as a nation. We are facing the horrific and accelerating breakdown of the family — infidelity, divorce, abuse. We are seeing accelerating apostasy within the Church. People are turning away from God, betraying family and friends and ignoring the life-changing message of the Bible. Crime is surging, especially violent crime. The pornography industry now makes more than ABC, CBS and NBC combined. Our national debt has shot past $15 trillion — 100% of our GDP — and there is no end of runaway spending in sight. Washington and Wall Street are rife with corruption. The number one highest-grossing film in the nation right now is called The Devil Inside. Tragically, the list goes on and on.

In this context, I just finished writing and editing a new non-fiction book entitled, Implosion: Can America Recover From Our Economic and Spiritual Challenges In Time?  Lord willing, it will be published in June. But I need to begin talking about the message now because the issues are too important to wait. In the book, the most difficult I’ve ever had to write, I argue that America is not simply in decline; we are actually headed for collapse — an implosion — unless we make fundamental and sweeping changes soon.

Yes, we need strong, principled leaders with deep convictions who will return us to the Biblical principles that our Founders wove into the Constitution. This election season will give us the opportunity to choose such leaders — or not. But even in the best case scenario, even if we elect the right people who are serious about making major reforms in Washington and have a track record of results, they will not be able to save this country alone. We need so much more — we need the Lord to rescue us, to have mercy on us, before it’s too late. We need a series of spiritual revivals to break out in every region of the country to wake up a slumbering Church and reinvigorate pastors and lay people to preach the Gospel, make disciples, plant new churches, and care for the poor and needy with great boldness, courage and compassion. We saw God do this in America in the early 1700s with the first Great Awakening. We actually saw God do this again in the early 1800s with the Second Great Awakening. Now is the time to plead with the Lord for a Third Great Awakening.

But how? Where would such a revival start? The famed British evangelist Gypsy Smith had the right answer. “Do you really want to see a revival begin?” he used to say. “Then go back to your home and draw a circle around you on the floor. Then get down on your knees in the middle of the circle and ask God to convert everybody inside that circle. When you do that, and God answers, you are experiencing the start of revival.”

Where are you today? Have you given your life wholly and completely to Jesus Christ? Have you asked Him to forgive you of all your sins, to give you eternal life, and to fill you with His joy, His peace, and His wisdom and strength through the power of His Holy Spirit? If not, let this be the day you receive Christ into your heart by faith. Here’s a good, concise explanation of the Gospel. It helped my father understand the Biblical plan of salvation and showed him exactly how to receive Christ as his Savior, and it can help you, too. Please read it. Please pray the suggested prayer at the end with a sincere, humble and repentant heart. And please post a note on our Epicenter Facebook page to tell us that you’ve become a follower of Christ. Let us rejoice with you and encourage you and give  you suggestions on how to grow in your new faith, and how to share your faith with others. Indeed, you could start by sharing this message with others.

If you’re already a follower of Christ, do you need a revival in your own personal life and in your family? If so, may I suggest you follow Gypsy Smith’s counsel? Go to your room. Close the door. Get down on your knees. Plead with the Lord to do a new and wonderful work in your heart, and to give you a new hunger for His Word and passion for serving Him regardless of the cost. Don’t make it a quick prayer. Invest serious time before the Lord confessing your sins and asking for His forgiveness and asking Him to refresh you and use you to advance His kingdom. Open the Bible. Ask the Lord to fill you with His Holy Spirit and to open the eyes of your heart so that you can truly see what He is trying to tell you. Make a commitment to daily prayer and Bible study when you first wake up in the morning (before the intensity of the day begins), and then again as you prepare to go to bed at night. And please post a message on our Facebook page and let us know what God is doing in you so we can encourage you in your spiritual growth.

This is a time for choosing — implosion or revival? Let us choose wisely. Time is short.

>> “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?’” (John 11:25-26)

>> “He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.” (1 John 5:12)

>> “A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet….’O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy.’” (Habakkuk 3:1-2)

>> “’Yet even now,’ declares the Lord, ‘return to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, weeping and mourning; and rend your heart and not your garments.’ Now return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness and relenting of evil.” (Joel 2:12-13)

IRAN THREAT GROWING: Latest headlines

In Uncategorized on January 5, 2012 at 8:27 pm

Iran warns U.S. not to send aircraft carrier into the Gulf. (US Navy photo)

The Iran threat is growing daily. Please pray for the Lord to bring down the evil regime in Tehran and to liberate the people of Iran. Please pray, too, for the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be spread to everyone in Iran who desperately need to know the love and forgiveness and eternal life that only Christ can provide.

Headlines worth tracking:

At the same time, please be praying for the people of Iraq — and especially the Christians there — as Radical Islamic violence is growing. See the latest headline of series of deadly explosions.

NEW REPORT SAYS 1 IN 3 CHILDREN POOR IN ISRAEL

In Uncategorized on January 5, 2012 at 3:40 am

Working on a Joshua Fund food distribution project for the poor and needy in Israel.

“An annual report submitted by National Council for the Child to President Shimon Peres on Wednesday indicates that one out of every three Israeli children is poor,” reports the Jerusalem Post this week. “The report claims there is an increase in the number of children who have fallen victim to physical and sexual abuse, but the number of youths who have committed acts of violence has dropped….The number of children living below the poverty line in 2010 reached 889,500 (35.3% of the entire child population). The past three decades have seen a sharp rise in the number of poor Israeli children – from 8.1% in 1980 to 35.3% in 2010. The report said 65.8% of Arab-Israeli children live in poverty, almost three times the amount of poor Jewish children. Some 430,000 children are known to welfare services, an increase of about 50% over the past few years.”

“We mustn’t give up on even one child,” commented Israeli President Shimon Peres. “The State of Israel is committed to the welfare and education of its children, who will be the (backbone) of the country’s future.”

I agree with President Peres. Every child in Israel — and each of their families — is precious, and the Bible directs us to love them and care for them and bless them in real and practical ways. That’s precisely why The Joshua Fund has opened a warehouse in central Israel, and expanded the number of food distribution centers we fund and supply around the State of Israel from zero five years ago to 12 today. Please pray for us as we seek to expand the number of poor and needy children and adults that we can care for in 2012. Please pray that we can show unconditional love to each of these precious people, and to do all of this in the name of Jesus and in His love. And please pray about how the Lord would like you to be involved! To read more about how your prayers & financial support have made a difference in recent years, please click here.

Deuteronomy 15:7-11 – “If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs. Beware lest there be a wicked thought in your heart, saying, ‘The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand,’ and your eye be evil against your poor brother and you give him nothing, and he cry out to the LORD against you, and it become sin among you. You shall surely give to him, and your heart should not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the LORD your God will bless you in all your works and in all to which you put your hand. For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.’” (NKJV)

WHAT MESSAGE WILL IOWA SEND TONIGHT REGARDING ISRAEL & IRAN?

In Uncategorized on January 3, 2012 at 5:00 pm

The nation and world are watching the GOP candidates in Iowa (photo credit: Politico.com)

UPDATE: I was encouraged by the results of the Iowa vote in terms of the future of U.S. policy towards Israel and Iran, given the strong performance of the top two finishers. Former Senator Rick Santorum — far and away the most pro-Israel candidate in the race, the most experienced candidate on foreign policy and national security matters, and the only candidate with a serious, substantive plan to neutralize the Iran threat — surged from 4% in the polls to capture 25% of the vote, and is now soaring in the polls nationally. This is good news. Now we’ll see how he performs in the heat of the national spotlight. Former Governor Mitt Romney — solidly pro-Israel but without foreign policy/national security experience, and no formal plan to stop Iran — technically placed first ahead of Santorum, but by only 8 votes. The concern with Romney is how strong he would be in confronting Radical Islam and how resolute a defender of Israel he would be when the heat gets turned up, given his history of changing positions. But it’s still good that the front-runner is generally positive on these critical issues. I had been concerned that Rep. Ron Paul — whose economic policy is bold and useful, but who wants to eliminate military aid to Israel and let Iran get nuclear weapons without trying to stop them — would win. He didn’t, but rather faded and came in third. This was a good thing. Rep. Michele Bachmann has now withdrawn from the race, but I’m grateful for her pro-Israel views and her plan to stop Iran, and believe she will be an important national voice in the years ahead.

ORIGINAL POST: What message will the voters of Iowa send the nation and the world tonight regarding the future of U.S. policy towards Israel and Iran? The stakes couldn’t be higher.

There’s a real possibility that Texas Congressman Ron Paul could win. But he would be a disaster as Commander-in-Chief. His comments just this past week have proven how oblivious he is on foreign policy. Of Iran, Paul said, “They don’t threaten our national security.” Paul said there’s no evidence Iran wants to build a bomb, and even if they did they wouldn’t use them. He said, “If I were an Iranian, I’d like to have a nuclear weapon, too.” He views economic sanctions against Iran as “an act of war” and believes the sanctions should be removed. He said he would severely slash defense spending and bring all U.S. military forces home from the Middle East and Asia, despite mounting dangers from Iran and North Korea. Paul has made similarly outrageous statements in the past. He has said he would end all military aid to Israel and would not come to Israel’s defense if Iran attacked. As I noted recently on the blog, Paul’s foreign policy of appeasement, abandoning Israel, turning a blind eye to Radical Islam and gutting the U.S. military would represent a total surrender and invite aggression.

[UPDATES: New York Times, Iran Warns the United States Over Aircraft Carrier....CNN: Report: Iran builds, tests first nuclear fuel rod]

All of the other GOP candidates have countered Paul on his views, especially Speaker Gingrich and Rep. Bachmann. But none have been as principled and consistent in his support of Israel and his commitment to stop Iran as former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. He was especially effective on NBC’s “Meet The Press” on Sunday. “Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum said he would use air strikes against Iran unless the country dismantled its nuclear program or allowed inspectors to verify that the work isn’t aimed at making a weapon,” reported Bloomberg News. Santorum said he would make it clear to the leaders of Iran, “You either open up those facilities, you begin to dismantle them and make them available to inspectors, or we will degrade those facilities through air strikes. Iran will not get a nuclear weapon under my watch.” Santorum was the first candidate to put a substantive plan on the table to neutralize the Iran threat, and is committed to working closely with the State of Israel, rather than undermine Israel. He has made clear he doesn’t want another war in the Middle East, but that we are running out of options and we can’t blink now. If all other measures fail, then he will use force. He believes we must stop Iran from getting the Bomb no matter what. He remains the most resolute GOP presidential candidate in the field on supporting Israel and countering Iran, though Gov. Romney has, to his credit, spoken out more on the issue in recent months. On today’s blog, I have posted an updated analysis of all the GOP contenders.

I’m not endorsing any candidate in this cycle. I don’t believe that’s the specific role God has given me at this stage in my life, and there are many issues of policy and character and experience voters need to consider in choosing a President, not just one’s positions on Israel and Iran. That said, my readers know that I believe the Iran threat to U.S. and Israeli national security will be one of the top issues facing the U.S. in 2012 and beyond, and I have to be honest that I remain deeply concerned by the support Ron Paul is getting in Iowa — and elsewhere in the country — given Paul’s policy of appeasement and weakness towards Iran.

Thus, I’m praying hard and watching closely at what message Iowans will send tonight to the nation and the world on these issues. Hope you will be, too.

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