Melanie Sturm: Think Again
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado
One needn’t be a Holocaust survivor to know that when threatened with annihilation to believe it.
Yet as the world confronts the vicious, violent and stunningly ruthless Iranian theocracy in its quest to entrench itself and secure control over its oil-rich region, there still are leaders who appear willing to allow the world’s most dangerous regime to possess the world’s most devastating weapons capability. Preoccupied with the costs of stopping Iran, leaders who haven’t learned the historical consequences of inaction must Think Again, for the only thing worse than military action is a nuclear-capable Iran.
Unfortunately, as writer Aldous Huxley concluded, “That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history.” When the world last faced a villainous regime intent on genocide and global hegemony, it was war-weary, too. Hopeful that Germany would abide by international law and treaties, Western powers didn’t assert their overwhelming military advantage to prevent a rearmed Germany from igniting World War II, causing Winston Churchill to lament, “There never was in all history a war easier to prevent by timely action than the one which has just desolated such great areas of the globe.”
Today, Iran poses even graver challenges. Since its 1979 Islamic Revolution, the Iranian theocracy has been an implacable foe of freedom, peace, human rights and international law. Its stated enemies are America (the “Great Satan”), Israel (the “Little Satan”) and domestic opponents, and its operating methods include brutal domestic suppression, terrorist proxies (Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon), global terrorist networks and dictatorial allies such as Syria and Venezuela.
Iran is responsible for hundreds of suicide bombers, thousands of roadside bombings and tens of thousands of missiles fired at civilians. To support Bashar Assad’s violent suppression of Syria’s protest movement, Iran is exporting the barbarous tactics used to quash its own 2009 Green Movement – sexual abuse, torture and public executions.
The question before us is: Would this Iranian regime be weaker or stronger, containable or more aggressive if it possessed nuclear capability? Furthermore, how much more emboldened would Iran’s allies and terrorist proxies be under Iran’s nuclear umbrella? Given its barbarity, political theology and hegemonic goals, isn’t it rational to assume Iran would deploy a nuclear-equipped suicide bomb to devastate Miami, Mumbai or Malmö, never mind Tel Aviv?
Consider what successive Iranian leaders say. They deny the last Holocaust while boasting of plans to cause the next one by “wiping Israel off the map” – a feat accomplishable, they assert, with only one nuclear bomb. Upon facing more severe sanctions in January, the self-described revolutionary state threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, the world’s most strategic oil transit thoroughfare.
After the Holocaust, and after 9/11, are these genocidal and belligerent threats just overheated rhetoric, or genuine intentions?
Despite a decade of diplomacy, binding U.N. Security Council resolutions, nuclear nonproliferation treaty obligations and crippling international sanctions, the International Atomic Energy Agency concluded that the logical application of Iran’s ongoing nuclear program is a weapon, and that production of enriched uranium is accelerating at its underground and fortified nuclear plant in Qom.
The reality is that despite growing international pressure on Iran to peacefully abandon its nuclear program, the regime might have concluded from the overthrow of Gaddafi, Hussein and the attempted overthrow of Assad – all denied nuclear programs – that nuclear capability is essential to its survival.
With options dwindling to curtail Iran and time running out, there are no good remedies. Nevertheless, we have overwhelming bipartisan agreement in both the House and the Senate that it is a vital U.S. interest to prevent Iran from becoming nuclear-capable – a threshold far closer than possession of such weapons and one Iran has nearly crossed.
Unfortunately, differing timetables are a source of tension between America and Israel. Because the U.S. Air Force is comparatively better equipped – with an advanced fleet of aircraft and bunker busting bombs – its capability and moment of decision is beyond Israel’s. However, given election-year politics and the likelihood a military strike would cause further escalation in already high oil prices, it’s hard for Israel to trust that America will act in time.
While the prospect of $10-per-gallon gasoline might be a price too high for American politicians to stomach, it’s a tradeoff Israel will accept to prevent a second Holocaust. “As Prime Minister of Israel,” Benjamin Netanyahu said last week, “I will never let my people live in the shadow of annihilation.”
So when Israel strikes Iran’s nuclear facilities, as it struck Iraq’s in 1981 and Syria’s in 2007, Think Again before complaining of temporarily high gas prices. Not only will Israel have saved America and the world from the specter of a nuclear-capable Iran, it will give the Iranian people their best chance since 2009 of overthrowing their tyrannical oppressors.
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