Difficult, even tragic decisions are fast
approaching in dealing with the Iranian nuclear program, as the Mullahocracy
continues to enrich uranium while playing for time and threatening Israel and
the United States. With a window of less
than three months before the Obama Administration takes office, it’s time to
clear the decks and acknowledge realities that have been dangerously clouded by
the wishful thinking of the left and a misleading National Intelligence Estimate
Because of Iranian words and deeds, we have been
forced to act on the assumption that they are driving hard to obtain a nuclear
The Iranians know this but have not met their
obligation even at this late hour to counter this impression, and for that
reason the burden of proof has now shifted:
The moral, political and legal responsibility for violent confrontation
has passed entirely to Teheran. We have
a right to take actions that will leave the Mullahs with the moral certitude that
we will go to war, thereby upsetting the status
quo and creating a new dynamic; or, if we reasonably believe at our
discretion that they are about to go nuclear, to take whatever steps are
necessary to prevent their possession of nuclear weapons.
Unfortunately, we’re still in the thrall of an NIE
of late last year that on its face seemed to indicate that the Iranians had abandoned
a quest for nuclear weapons, even while overwhelming evidence now suggests the
Not surprisingly, The New York Times and the rest of the mainstream media refuse to
accept what in the real world amounts to definitive new evidence of Iranian
intentions, or the consensus outside the left that the NIE was at best misleading. The media misrepresented the report as
concluding that the Iranians had abandoned efforts to obtain nuclear
weapons. It says nothing of the kind; at
best it’s a mass of contradictions that should have left intact skepticism
about Iranian intentions.
The problems with the NIE need only the briefest
rehearsal: that its authors may have been hoodwinked by an Iranian disinformation
campaign; that the report argues a case instead of simply presenting facts and
analysis; and, that it was at least partly authored by those who despise
President Bush and his policies.
Moreover, critical conclusions of the NIE are
couched in such unreassuring terms as “moderate-to-high confidence” even when
implicating crucial issues of national security. While the report concludes that the Iranians
probably halted their program in 2003, it states with only “moderate
confidence” that it hasn’t been restarted.
What does it say about their intentions that, as the
NIE concedes, they once had such a program?
Might the Iranians have purchased or otherwise obtained nuclear
weapons? Is it possible they simply
stopped efforts to produce weapons pending completion of the most difficult
part: the production of enriched uranium?
The NIE doesn’t explain why the Iranians purchased
nuclear-capable missiles from North Korea or why allegedly civilian nuclear
efforts are overseen by the Revolutionary Guard, declared a terrorist
organization by Congress.
Beyond the NIE, there is now not only the Iranian
refusal to negotiate seriously, but the U.S. Director of National Intelligence’s
judgment that crucial NIE conclusions were erroneous; statements by the International
Atomic Energy Agency (often hostile to the U.S.) that are even less sanguine
than the NIE; and, a continuing belligerence of tone and rejection of Security
Council disapprobation, and international norms and treaty obligations.
New York Times and the rest of the left have decided
that the solution is negotiations – as if that were a satisfactory end in and
of itself, as opposed to merely a means to the end of derailing Iranian
One might question the need for negotiations if the Times’ take on the NIE were correct. But we get no explanation from the Gray Lady,
and despite its usual omniscience, it primly and disingenuously quotes both the
claims of those who are convinced of the Iranians’ ill intentions and Iranian
Conveniently for Iranian hardliners, negotiations
have dragged on for years and, as a result of sanctions, the Iranians have
already willingly given up more in value than the West can yet further withhold;
and more than President-elect Obama proposes as carrots and sticks to encourage
Iranian compliance -- but all in any case nearly meaningless. There is little or no chance that Russia or
China will abandon their friend, and even vaunted banking sanctions will take
years to bite and may yet be sloughed off by a very tough regime.
As perhaps a definitive word on Iranian intentions
and as a suggestion of the dangerous folie
de grandeur that marks this particular gang of tyrants, Iranian Foreign
Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has recently offered an arrogant and provocative
fillip that Iran would continue to enrich uranium even if it were supplied with
nuclear fuel for energy generation.
So much for a peaceful rationale for uranium
enrichment. People of good will and
clarity of thought can only conclude that the Iranians are seeking nuclear
weapons. Equally important – and the
reason that the Mullahs will be responsible for any war – is that the Iranians
know this and yet continue on their dangerous path.
International law, not surprisingly, doesn’t address
this novel situation. But in many ways
the imminent threat is akin to a military mobilization of the 19th
or 20th centuries. In and of
itself only a preparation for war, mobilization was nevertheless considered an
act of war, as failure to respond quickly -- and if necessary, violently -- would
result in an overwhelming advantage to the enemy.
However, even when dealing with a threat of low
probability but devastating impact, one is obligated to err on the side of
safety. With Iran, the threat of at
least nuclear blackmail is serious; the threat that they will use them
significant; the impact of both potentially shattering.
facto guarantor of Israel and other allies in the Middle East, not to
mention our own security, the U.S. cannot allow the gangsters in Teheran to
obtain a nuclear arsenal. It is no time
to go wobbly. The onus for war and all
its misery has now shifted to the Iranians.
If they refuse our demands to halt their nuclear weapons program, we
have the moral, political and legal right to force them to do so.