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We Can’t Win Wars by Permission By: Alan Nathan
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Arguments are erupting over whether or not we should go after Iran militarily in light of the widely reported NATO, European and American intelligence having shown physical proof of President Mahmoud Ahmedinijad’s Qud forces operating alongside al-Qaeda in Iraq and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

AL-QAEDA leaders in Iraq are planning the first “large-scale” terrorist attacks on Britain and other western targets with the help of supporters in Iran, according to a leaked intelligence report. Spy chiefs warn that one operative had said he was planning an attack on “a par with Hiroshima and Nagasaki” in an attempt to “shake the Roman throne”, a reference to the West. “Al-Qaeda Planning ‘Big British Attack,’” The Sunday Times UK, April 22, 2007

NATO officials say they have caught Iran red-handed, shipping heavy arms, C4 explosives and advanced roadside bombs to the Taliban for use against NATO forces, in what the officials say is a dramatic escalation of Iran’s proxy war against the United States and Great Britain.  "It is inconceivable that it is anyone other than the Iranian government that's doing it," said former White House counter-terrorism official Richard Clarke, an ABC News consultant. “Document: Iran Caught Red-Handed Shipping Arms to Taliban,” ABC News, June 6, 2007 

Three questions: Why treat proxy-war enemies differently than direct enemies?  Why respond only if the enemy’s threat is imminent?  And, why has the risk of collateral killing taken priority over defeating the enemy? 

 

If Iran were in full military attire and attacking us with their marked tanks and planes, nobody would question our entitlement to respond with full strength and rapid dispatch.  However, because they graft their fighters onto our enemies and assault us through these third-party conduits, our right to return fire is somehow diminished. 

 

How can this be?  Isn’t that tantamount to not charging a killer simply because he had the slaughter done by contract, i.e., murder-for-hire?  If we allow these misogynistic, homicidal racists to enjoy greater latitude for warring against us simply because they do so by third-party filters, then haven’t we reinforced this proxy-war formula for years to come?  What better strategy to use than the one that lets you kill with impunity? 

 

Another impediment is the classic discussion over whether or not Iran’s threat is imminent.  What a fantastically insipid and unevolved requisite upon which to base a country’s right to self defense.  The imminent threat standard is grotesquely flawed because it’s at the mercy of an often unattainable determination. 

 

You’re subjected to a guideline that leaves you helpless should an attack’s discovered imminence be too closely followed by the attack itself.  Frequently, the imminent threat factor can’t even be detected such as on 9-11 when imminence came and went without notice. 

 

The more prudent standard should be serious threat.  Better we risk attacking the enemy prematurely than letting them assault us right on time.  Some argue that these lugubriously Solomonic options are avoidable providing we heighten our intelligence.  Unfortunately, until we’re telepathic enough to read threats at speeds faster than our enemy’s ability to write them, the pursuit of improved intelligence is not an excuse for retaining the status quo.  It’s a false contingency. 

 

(It’s like saying that we can’t have border security until immigration reform is complete even though the former is Constitutional law while the latter is still pipe-dream legislation – but don’t get me started.) 

 

Our rules of engagement concerning collateral killing are strangling us in the war against fanatical jihadists – including those from Iran.  Collateral killing has become a higher priority than our own self-preservation – how did this happen?  The United Nations preaches that democracies are only entitled to defend themselves up to the point where they don’t harm the enemy’s fellow citizens - even while that enemy fights from behind those citizens. 

 

Incomprehensively, such a condition permits the enemy another day of life to remove another life from us.  As usual, too many morons forget the dynamics of competing interests wherein the lesser of multiple evils must be chosen because, if not selected, the greater of those evils will make the choice for us. 

 

This is especially the case when the options are between: a) killing the enemy despite the collateral deaths; or, b) sparing the collateral deaths despite the freed enemy now able to kill more Americans. 

 

It’s beyond frustrating that the majority of Iranians love the US and to attack their country would naturally turn many of them against us.  However, the loss of that love cannot be the reason for not attacking a nation that’s currently attacking us.  All we wind up losing is an affection that has obviously not been effective enough in dissuading their non-elected clerics from prosecuting a war against the United States. 

 

As crass as it may sound, there truly are times when a country must put the lives of its own people above those of its enemy – including their citizenry. 

 

Tragically, some Americans slather themselves in the unctuous goo of appeasement and characterize it as bathing in diplomatic wisdom.  Emblematic of these voices is Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter’s National Security Advisor and former guest on Battle Line: 

 

Likely Iranian reactions would significantly compound ongoing U.S. difficulties in Iraq and in Afghanistan, perhaps precipitate new violence by Hezbollah in Lebanon, and in all probability cause the United States to become bogged down in regional violence for a decade or more to come.  Iran is a country of some 70 million people and a conflict with it would make the misadventure in Iraq look trivial.  “Do Not Attack Iran,” International Herald Tribune, Zbigniew Brzezinski, April 26th, 2006 

 

And he continues to espouse these positions. 

 

If the reason we can’t defend ourselves is because we’ll only be attacked again, then we have illustrated to our foes how their aggression can become its own validation and protector – not exactly a cut-throat deterrence. 

 

Clearly the war on drugs is lagging way behind the war on terror.

 

If there’s no point of finality attached to a last chance given, then it becomes only another chance in a long list of preceding ones carrying all the leverage you would expect – zero. 

 

Brzezinski also asserts that military action against Iran would only add to our “difficulties in Iraq and Afghanistan.”  Of course it would.  After all, not holding them accountable over the last two years has been such a wondrous triumph! 

 

Most of us know that if incentives perpetuate good behavior, then disincentives counter the bad.  You cannot have one without the other and this also applies to the Middle East.  In one of his few unguarded moments, even Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah admitted that had he known that Israel would react as violently as she did to their attack against the Jewish state last June, he never would have done it. 

 

In order to prevail anywhere in the Islamic Middle East, we’re told that we must win their hearts and minds.  Too late – they’re already the property of those who have neither.

 


Alan Nathan, a combative centrist and "militant moderate," a columnist, and the nationally syndicated talk show host of "Battle Line With Alan Nathan" on the Radio America Network.


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