Steve Poizner shows guts and leadership Richard Grenell March 5, 2010 California, Iran, nuclear weapons, Politics, President Obama, UN sanctions, UN Security Council San Diego Union-Tribune editorial on Steve Poizner by Richard Grenell Poizner’s Iran Campaign Shows He Has Guts and Vision Divestment from South Africa for its official policy of racial segregation started in California in 1977 when students began to organize and protest the fact that Stanford University was investing in companies doing business in South Africa. The United States Federal Government officially joined the divestment fight in 1986 and apartheid officially ended after a long battle when the South African elections were held in 1994. While divestment campaigns for social injustices have been highly controversial, there is no question that using all means necessary for national security concerns is not only prudent but crucial. The truth is I’ve never met State Insurance Commissioner and candidate for Governor Steve Poizner, but I have spent 8 years working inside the UN’s Security Council looking for ways to stop Iran’s uranium enrichment program. Poizner’s demand that 1300 California-licensed insurers give him information about indirect investments in Iran’s nuclear, oil, defense and banking sectors is a brilliant move that deserves public accolades. For anyone who supports peaceful and diplomatic solutions to dangerous problems, Poizner has demonstrated that he is that rare public leader that isn’t just talking about issues. While a military deterrence is critical to solve the Iranian nuclear issue, we all need to be using the tools at our disposal to help force a peaceful solution before military action is required. European politicians and bankers should join the fight and send a powerful and peaceful economic message to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s perilous government. Forcing California insurance companies that own stock in some multinational companies that operate in Iran to divest will undoubtedly have a direct impact on Ahmadinejad’s nuclear ambitions. Thousands of students and opposition leaders have been protesting in the streets of Tehran for months, complaining that Iran’s economy is suffering because the international community continues to isolate Iran over the government’s illegal pursuit of nuclear weapons. Poizner’s initiative supports those students by forcing more multinational companies to follow the UN sanctions demand and stop doing business with Ahmadinejad. The Bush Administration passed several United Nations Security Council resolutions sanctioning the Government of Iran for its secret uranium enrichment. Iran’s recent announcement that it had successfully enriched uranium to 19.75% grade demonstrates that they have the technology and ambition to make a nuclear weapon. And this week, the slow-moving, state-the-obvious International Atomic Energy Agency announced that it fears Iran is working toward a nuclear warhead to go along with its undisclosed uranium enrichment activities. While the Obama team nervously talks among themselves, they have missed the opportunity to make the Internet available to the thousands of student protesters inside Iran or to implement another round of harsh sanctions on Ahmadinejad that could push his government over the cliff and deliver the fatal blow to his presidency. There may still be time to make sure Iran doesn’t acquire the nuclear weapons that they will surely use, but it will take quick and sustained action like divestment initiatives from political leaders around the world. The White House and European politicians should take note. An immediate combination of paralyzing UN sanctions, aggressive support for the struggling opposition inside Iran, firm pressure on Europeans to implement the current financial sanctions and a credible use of a military deterrence must all be realized – and soon. Poizner isn’t waiting for the Obama Administration to get its act together; he is doing what he can to ensure Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon. While many politicians are eager to jump on popular public social movements, few leaders think creatively enough to start a movement when there is no media attention. Steve Poizner is clearly a leader that is thinking strategically about the public’s safety and working to lead an important national security movement that has yet to garner the media’s attention. While many politicians talk about what they WILL do if given the power of a political office, Poizner is showing us what he IS doing to help make California and the rest of the world safe and secure.