Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Bombing Iran: A Truly Bad Idea

In this article in Commentary, Norman Podhoretz does his best to make the truly bad idea of bombing Iran sound like America's only option. Diplomacy, he says, is useless:

... for three-and-a-half years, even pre-dating the accession of Ahmadinejad to the presidency, the diplomatic gavotte has been danced with Iran, in negotiations whose carrot-and-stick details no one can remember—not even, I suspect, the parties involved. But since, to say it again, Ahmadinejad is a revolutionary with unlimited aims and not a statesman with whom we can “do business,” all this negotiating has had the same result as Munich had with Hitler. That is, it has bought the Iranians more time in which they have moved closer and closer to developing nuclear weapons.

Ahmadinejad is the new Hitler, says Podhoretz:
Like Hitler, he is a revolutionary whose objective is to overturn the going international system and to replace it in the fullness of time with a new order dominated by Iran and ruled by the religio-political culture of Islamofascism. Like Hitler, too, he is entirely open about his intentions, although—again like Hitler—he sometimes pretends that he wants nothing more than his country’s just due. In the case of Hitler in 1938, this pretense took the form of claiming that no further demands would be made if sovereignty over the Sudetenland were transferred from Czechoslovakia to Germany. In the case of Ahmadinejad, the pretense takes the form of claiming that Iran is building nuclear facilities only for peaceful purposes and not for the production of bombs.

If no action is taken, he predicts, the result will be a West cowed by Iran, helpless in the face of the Islamization of Europe, and, possibly, the obliteration of Israel. The runaway train of Islamofascism is bearing down on Israel, Europe, and America, and only some very large bombs can stop it. Don't look for help from the Europeans; they are unwilling to lift a finger to stop the Iranian president. Unlike, perhaps, a certain heroic president:

George W. Bush, a man who knows evil when he sees it and who has demonstrated an unfailingly courageous willingness to endure vilification and contumely in setting his face against it. It now remains to be seen whether this President, battered more mercilessly and with less justification than any other in living memory, and weakened politically by the enemies of his policy in the Middle East in general and Iraq in particular, will find it possible to take the only action that can stop Iran from following through on its evil intentions both toward us and toward Israel.

Read the whole article. I disagree completely with it, of course. Podhoretz's comparison of Ahmadinejad to Hitler is absurd. Yes, Ahmadinejad is a nasty piece of work too, but Hitler was an absolute dictator who led a rising, powerful Germany. Ahmadinejad, on the other hand, is the president but not the supreme leader of Iran, and he is constrained by many other political actors. The Iranian economy is slowly collapsing as a result of his failed economic policies, he's increasingly unpopular, and his party suffered big losses in the last round of elections. About the only he has going for him right now is the nuclear issue, which the Iranians see as a matter of national pride. From his viewpoint, what could be better than an American attack on Iranian nuclear facilities? Not only would it rally people to the flag, but it probably couldn't do more than set back production a few years anyway.

Compared to the constant threat of complete nuclear annihilation the US faced during the Cold War, the possibility of Ahmadinejad developing a few nukes down the road is quite a bit less frightening. Obviously we must do whatever we can to prevent it, but there's simply no excuse for a great power like America to panic and make the wrong move in this situation. A preventive strike against Iran would cause Iraq to explode into chaos, destroy our image in the word, shoot the price of oil through the roof, and lose us the greatest allies we have against the mullahs, the people of Iran, some of the most pro-American on earth. Let time, sanctions, and Ahmadinejad's poor economic policies do their work.

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