Friday, January 20, 2006

What to do about Iran

This question will keep coming up until either The Mad Mullahs have made good on their threats, or until someone synchronizes their state of society with their state of mind - by carpetbombing Iran back into pre-Islamic times.
Mona Charen, who feels bad that the world fell all over Israel when it bombed Iraq out of its nuclear dream (but secretly let out a sigh of relief).
In 1981, Israeli planes streaked across the desert at low altitude and destroyed the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak, a facility built by the French and partially manned by Italians. The world's response was volcanic. "An unprovoked attack" and a "grave breach of international law" declared the British Foreign Office. The French called it "unacceptable" and pointed out that Iraq had signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Then U.N. Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim (not yet unmasked as a former Nazi) called the Israeli raid a "clear contravention of international law." The Soviet Union denounced the "barbarous attack." And the U.S. State Department spokesman called the air raid ''a very serious development and a source of utmost concern.'' Israel was condemned by the U.N. Security Council with the U.S. voting aye. (Though at a press conference, President Reagan could not resist defending Israel's actions, pointing out, for example, that Iraq had maintained a state of war with Israel since 1948.) The New York Times called the Israeli attack "an act of inexcusable and short-sighted aggression . . . Israel risks becoming its own worst enemy."
I feel I shouldn't need to explain once more why an Iran with nukes would be such a bad idea, but it won't hurt, and Ms Charen does it well:
The prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran was made even more terrifying with the ascent last June of the Holocaust-denying, religious vision-seeing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president. Ahmadinejad reportedly believes in the imminent return of the righteous descendant of the Prophet Mohammed, the 12th Imam, whose appearance on Earth will be presaged by war and chaos. A previous Iranian leader mused that only one nuclear bomb would be sufficient to completely obliterate Israel and the largest Jewish population on Earth. A return salvo by Israel could destroy only a fraction of the world's Muslims. Would this madness be within the realm of the conceivable to Ahmadinejad? Even apart from his hysterical rantings about Israel ("a disgraceful blot" that "should be wiped off the face of the Earth"), consider what he said to his own countrymen when a plane crashed into a Tehran building killing 108. "What is important is that they have showed the way to martyrdom which we must follow."
It is one of the problems the civilized West suffers from: We have lost the ability to realize not every human on the planet thinks and acts like we do. In fact, we are a minority.
So is the band of insane religious fanatics that rule Iran, but when nukes are involved, it really only takes one. It's bad enough they own any weapons at all, but they simply cannot be allowed to get their hands on nuclear weapons. Imagine an 8th century barbaric cleric wielding a nuclear missile instead of a sword, and you've got a pretty accurate idea of who rules Iran.

Ms Charen thinks - as I do - that the West should take action as soon as possible (which really means now, as I'm writing this). Where we disagree is that she feels that, painful as it might be, we might need to be as harsh as instituting an oil embargo.
That leaves us with no painless options. If we, together with a coalition of the willing, impose the only sanction that will truly pinch -- an embargo on Iranian oil -- oil prices will rise, probably by a lot. But that cost will have to be weighed against the cost of military action, which would be far higher. In the meantime, as the far-sighted Michael Ledeen has argued for years, we ought to be supporting the democratic opposition within Iraq for all we're worth. The vicious Iranian regime sits atop a population that detests it. Revolution would be redemption -- for all of us.
Their revolution MIGHT indeed be a redemption for us (although there certainly are no guarantees). But first of all, Shiites are in ascendancy at the moment. The regime is NOT going to fall anytime soon. Which brings me to the second, far more pressing point: We have perhaps only months left to act. An oil embargo - while certainly the more humane means to pressure Iran - will take years to sting enough to force Iran do give up its nuclear aspirations. And even if the Mad Mullahs give in, it will result in the same hide-and-seek game which they (like Iraq until 2003) have been playing with the IAEA for years now: stall, lie, hide, cooperate, bluff, withdraw, on and on. It will not stop until they are stopped, and their regime is displaced. If it is replaced by a more civil, peaceloving government, great. If not, the new leaders will at least realize that going nuclear is not an option.

UPDATE: Another reason why sanctions won't even come off the ground (and why they didn't work against Iraq): The UN is the only place they could be decided upon, and as has been demonstrated time and time again, there's ALWAYS someone against. There's always a country with opposed interests on the UN SC, who will stall, water down, or just plain veto.

Cox&Forkum know this.


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