Richard Fernandez has quite properly called attention to the news that Obama seems to be offering Israel an American “nuclear umbrella” against Iran. If true (and the Israeli press is not always accurate about these things), it means, as Richard says, that Obama has essentially abandoned his campaign promise to go all-out to prevent Iran from acquiring the bomb. Instead of prevention, American policy would henceforth rest on deterrence.
So much for Norman Podhoretz, who has been telling us all along that Bush would never permit this development. And so much for Sy Hersh and the others seized by blind hatred for BushHitlerCheney, who have been telling us that the United States was preparing to attack Iran.
I never believed these stories, because it’s been clear for several years that this administration had fallen into the same trap as every other president for the past thirty years: believing that one could make a deal with Iran that would obviate the need for serious action. I wrote a book saying just that, and it’s been borne out.
I think the “realists” will now say “so what? So Iran gets the bomb. We lived with a nuclear Soviet Union, we can live with a nuclear Iran.” Never mind that the Iranian leaders are believers in an apocalyptic ideology which embraces death, chaos and destruction. Never mind that the mullahs have promised to destroy Western civilization. Deterrence worked before, and it will work again. We’ll be hearing a lot of this sort of talk from Establishment types at the Council on Foreign Relations and the Scowcroftians.
It’s nonsense. The mullahs can’t be deterred, because they see death as a triumph. As Swift once said, you can’t reason a man out of something he wasn’t reasoned into in the first place.
The real world is full of paradoxes, of which two should seize our attention. First, those who avoid conflict in the name of peace, often make war more likely. All those who have been demanding that we “make nice” to Iran in order to prevent BushHitlerCheney from launching war against the mullahs, have it precisely backwards. Iran launched war on us thirty years ago, and the only question is whether we will win or lose. The longer we wait, the stronger and more aggressive the Iranians become. Thus, the global role of Hezbollah. Thus, the expansion of Iranian military forces into the Horn of Africa and Latin America. Thus, the nukes.
Second, I have always believed that the mullahs made a strategic error by pursuing nuclear weapons. Without the nuclear program, I can’t imagine that the West would have taken the (mostly ineffective) steps to sanction the Iranian regime. The acquisition of nukes will raise the ante. It may even convince America and some other countries that the regime in Tehran must be brought down.
That remains an option, in my mind the best option. Democratic revolution in Iran has a lot going for it, and I believe the Iranian people would support it if they saw that the United States would do the same. To date, not a single leading politician or pundit in this country has embraced this strategy, even though it succeeded against the Soviet Empire, a vastly more powerful enemy than Iran. Perhaps the nukes will concentrate their minds at long last.