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Jewish World Review
Nov 28, 2011
/ 2 Kislev, 5772
Answers to the Iranian threat
Please, please, no one wants an attack on Iran by Israel or us or anyone else. Innocent, freedom-yearning Iranians could be killed and the risks would be awful, maybe leading to a Middle East conflagration that puts past ones to shame, and wrecking economies through higher oil prices. It's hard to think of anything worse, but one possibility comes to mind.
That would be a nuclear-armed Iran. We're getting so close that the Obama administration has started denying its failures.
Why, said Tom Donilon, national security adviser, U.S. sanctions under Obama have slowed down Iran's development of nuclear weapons. Maybe. But more slowly or not, evil marches on. Just ask the International Atomic Energy Agency.
It recently stated that Iran is about a year out from a nuclear weapon, with several more to follow soon after that. The report led to tougher sanctions by us, Canada and Britain making it tougher for Iran to do business with foreign banks. While the European Union may soon follow suit, Iran first smiles. Then it yawns. What's to fear? Iran knows it has China and Russia on its side, monetarily and otherwise, and therefore can quite likely get away with murder. Mass murder.
Why would China and Russia be so utterly, totally irresponsible? Because autocratic bully boys like autocratic bully boys? Not exactly, although maintaining a certain balance of power with the West is part of the deal. The bigger part is that Russia can get richer by selling conventional weapons and nuclear reactors to Iran, and that China gets a major portion of its oil from Iran.
Here's what seems to me likely: If China, Russia and the West say flatly to Iran that they will engage in whatever peaceful activities are necessary to stop weapons development — while at the same time assuring peaceful nuclear power development — Iran will pay attention. If it doesn't, toughen the sanctions until it does. War will be averted.
So far, all the United States has persuaded China and Russia to do is agree to a U.N. resolution calling for more aggressive diplomacy, you know, appeal to reason, that sort of thing. In other words, nothing. I think there are all kinds of ways we can apply pressure on these trading partners, much of it with financial risk for us, but that might well be successful in winning their cooperation and thus avoiding the awful, ultimate solution of bombing.
Other steps others suggest are to unleash our oil and natural gas companies to market vast new resources discovered in our own country so we will be less imperiled by Iranian oil cutoffs and give whatever assistance we can to Iranian rebels against the clerical authorities.
Yes, I know what some people, mostly on the left, are saying. If the United States can have nuclear weapons, why can't Iran? If we avoided nuclear war with the Soviet Union through Mutual Assured Destruction, why wouldn't that work with Iran? Wouldn't the ultimate solution of the U.S. or Israel trying to take out their weapons facilities with bombing necessarily be an incomplete action that would alienate even our friends in much of the Middle East while not finally deterring anything?
First off, there is no moral equivalence between us and Iran, and even if there were, this we know: The United States is not going to give nuclear weapons to terrorists; the United States is not going to bomb the United States; we are not going to wipe Israel off the map, giving the world a second Holocaust.
As JWR columnist Clifford D. May of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies reminds us, Iran has been at war with us since it held 52 Americans hostage for more than a year during the Jimmy Carter presidency. Since then, it has aided terrorists or used its own agents to kill American civilians and soldiers.
He notes Iran's leaders are fanatics, which is to say, getting blown off the map might be a way of either earthly or heavenly salvation. Let Iran have nukes, and the rest of the Middle East gets nukes and the whole thing blows up eventually, obviously involving us.
There are other answers.
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Jay Ambrose, formerly Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers and the editor of dailies in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, is a columnist living in Colorado.
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