Sunday, November 19, 2006

Bomb Iran

This editorial in the LA Times argues that the time has come to make a decision whether we are going to accept a nuclear Iran, or if we are going to attack them.
So if sanctions won't work, what's left? The overthrow of the current Iranian regime might offer a silver bullet, but with hard-liners firmly in the saddle in Tehran, any such prospect seems even more remote today than it did a decade ago, when students were demonstrating and reformers were ascendant. Meanwhile, the completion of Iran's bomb grows nearer every day.
Our options therefore are narrowed to two: We can prepare to live with a nuclear-armed Iran, or we can use force to prevent it.
But he argues that just accepting that fate can't be compared to the standoff that we had with the Soviets or the Chinese. Simply, Iran can feed those weapons off to terrorists and we'd have a hard time retaliating on the hunch that Iran was ultimately to blame.
He also argues that the politics of the region would change dramatically for the worse.
But such ethnic-based analysis fails to take into account Iran's charisma as the archenemy of the United States and Israel and the leverage it achieves as the patron of radicals and rejectionists. Given that, the old assumptions about Shiites and Sunnis may not hold any longer. Iran's closest ally today is Syria, which is mostly Sunni. The link between Tehran and Damascus is ideological, not theological. Similarly, Iran supports the Palestinian groups Islamic Jihad and Hamas, which are overwhelmingly Sunni (and as a result, Iran has grown popular in the eyes of Palestinians).

Can President Bush take such action after being humiliated in the congressional elections and with the Iraq war having grown so unpopular? Bush has said that history's judgment on his conduct of the war against terror is more important than the polls. If Ahmadinejad gets his finger on a nuclear trigger, everything Bush has done will be rendered hollow. We will be a lot less safe than we were when Bush took office.

Finally, wouldn't such a U.S. air attack on Iran inflame global anti-Americanism? Wouldn't Iran retaliate in Iraq or by terrorism? Yes, probably. That is the price we would pay. But the alternative is worse.

After the Bolshevik takeover of Russia in 1917, a single member of Britain's Cabinet, Winston Churchill, appealed for robust military intervention to crush the new regime. His colleagues weighed the costs — the loss of soldiers, international derision, revenge by Lenin — and rejected the idea.

The costs were avoided, and instead the world was subjected to the greatest man-made calamities ever. Communism itself was to claim perhaps 100 million lives, and it also gave rise to fascism and Nazism, leading to World War II. Ahmadinejad wants to be the new Lenin. Force is the only thing that can stop him.
So, what do you say? Do you say that we should continue to let the UN work it's magic? That dog has sailed, and considering how effective they've been at solving Iraq and the Sudan, it's apparent that they'll never come up with a solution.
The nuclear non-proliferation treaty? That's over and done as well. The minute North Korea lit up a small warhead and nothing was done to stop them, every tin-pot dictator in the world was put on notice that acquiring nukes will not get you any trouble from the international community. There was never anything in place to police the non-proliferation treaty that held any water. Once again, it's going the be the U.S. or nobody.

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