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October 20th, 2017

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Dangerous road ahead

Paul Greenberg

By Paul Greenberg

Published Oct. 8, 2015

  Dangerous road ahead

There is a time, as Ecclesiastes reminds us, to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to be silent and a time to mend, a time for war and a time for peace ... and now is a time to stop denying that America, and the West in general, has suffered a strategic defeat. For all signs indicate that this feckless administration's nuclear deal with the mullahs in Tehran is already undermining this country's security and the world's peace. The question for those of us who believe in freedom is no longer how we can derail this dangerous deal, but what we propose to do about it as it takes effect.

Yes, there was a time when an aggressive regime backed by a couple of world powers, Russia and Communist China, could be forced to disgorge its conquest -- by military or diplomatic means or both. But that was years ago (1991) when it was Kuwait that had been occupied by Saddam Hussein's Iraq, and the United States had a different president (George H.W. Bush) and a different and savvier secretary of state (James Baker). It was a time when this country meant business -- and not just business with dictators. "George," Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady herself, told that American president, "this is no time to go wobbly." And he didn't.

But now the country has a president who does little but wobble. Which means nothing good for America, our allies or what's left of the free world. Country after country feels the pressure, and decides to just go along with Washington's uncertain lead.

Yes, there is still Israel, and from time to time there has been talk about the Israelis finally rousing themselves and doing more than just denouncing the mullahs' plans to get a Bomb of their own -- and acquiring the means to deliver it. Like taking out Iran's widespread network of nuclear facilities. After all, the Israelis have acted before to avert such a clear and present danger to their existence -- specifically, Iraq's in 1981 and Syria's in 2007, with no serious protest from the Arab world or the world in general, which still recognized a right to self-defense on the part of a beleaguered nation. But this is a different world with different leaders in charge, and not beneficent ones.

Yes, the Israelis could still accept Mission Impossible and take out Iran's centrifuges at Isfahan, another key nuclear plant at Natanz, and the facility that produces "heavy water" at Arak. Then the Iranians would doubtless strike back by unleashing their terrorist allies, Hezbollah in Syria and Hamas in Gaza, as they have in the past. But this time Washington might not respond with even diplomatic support, let alone military force.

This time not even the Israelis might resort to a military strike, even though they've talked a good game. For there are indications that they've lost heart for any such initiative, having postponed it for so long. And when a nation has lost heart, it's lost everything. Or soon will. At this dangerous point, Israel would seem to have about the same chance of defeating a ruthless aggressor as Czechoslovakia did in 1938, or Poland a year later. It's a familiar story, and not a happy one. And the same unhappy ending looms -- unless the Israelis rally at the last minute, and once again become the Israel of old.

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Paul Greenberg is the Pulitzer-winning editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

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