The single greatest threat to Western Civilization - including Israel - is a nuclear armed Iranian theocracy. Indeed, it is a synergistic threat, since not only is it inherently dangerous, but as long as it lasts, it is driving nuclear proliferation throughout the many highly unstable nations of the Middle East. On April 18, Saudi Arabia - the country responsible for the violent and triumphalist Wahhabi/Salafi dogma of al Qaeda - announced the opening of the "King Abdullah City for Nuclear and Renewable Energy." According to the Financial Times:
Although all discussions have focused upon civilian uses of the technology, analysts note that Saudis and the other Arab Gulf states do not want to lag further behind Iran and Israel in developing nuclear technologies.
That ought to give you nightmares. Indeed, it is at least as threatening as the rabid theocrats in Iran having nuclear weapons. The same article notes that the UAE has already inked plans for building four nuclear reactors on their territory.
Despite the fact that the EU-3 had tried diplomacy with Iran over its nuclear program for seven fruitless years, Obama promised during the election campaign to sort out the Iranian problem by personally engaging the theocracy, as if the mere magic of his voice would turn aside the most imperialistic, amoral and bloodthirsty regime to plague this earth since the Nazis (and for the specifics to support that charge, see here and here). One could chalk up Obama's promise to woo Iran as mere cynical campaign rhetoric - but the fear was always that this man had no understanding of history, no grasp of the dangers at hand, a grossly overblown sense of his abilities, and no idea how to deal with the theocracy.
For the past fifteen months, Obama has opened his arms to the theocracy, hoping for a grand bargain. Every time he has reached out, Iran has merely doubled down on their enrichment efforts, apparently assessing that Obama would not have the stomach to stop them. Obama has treated the theocracy as a legitimate government, he defunded U.S. programs aimed at regime change and promotion of democracy, he has ignored the theocracy's acts of war against the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan, he ignored the massive protests for democracy inside Iran for months and, as of yet, has done nothing beyond uttering a few words to support the protests. Indeed, for a long time, Obama dared not even to criticize the regime's bloody repression of the protests. Lastly, Obama promised biting sanctions against Iran if diplomacy failed. Obama's diplomacy has failed and yet, still today, there are no new sanctions. All the while, the theocrats in Iran churn ever faster towards a nuclear arsenal while simultaneously improving their missle capabilities. The latest estimate is that the mad mullahs will be able to field rockets that can reach the U.S. by 2015.
It was a few days ago that a top-secret memo from Sec. of Defense Gates, reported by the NYT, made clear that the Obama regime is completely out of its depth. Gates's complaint was that the Obama administration has no Plan B in the event htat the mellifluous tones of Obama and tepid sanctions do not work to stop Iran's march to a nuclear arsenal. That is just jaw-dropping in its ramifications. It means that all of our fears about Obama were true. This man has no grasp of reality, no understanding of history, and no plan to deal with Iran's existential threat to our nation and the world.
Moreover, tellingly, this is not Obama at the 11th hour telling his military to prepare, its his Sec. of Defense providing what one unnamed official described as a "wake up call" to Obama. And so it would seem that the many options short of overt force, such as assisting the rebellion inside Iran, or even measured use of force, such as a naval blockades of Iran, are not even on Obama's drawing board. And while Obama has his head neck deep in the sand, every day our options lessen and the costs to stop this regime grow higher. Indeed, it was only a few days ago that an Iranian IRGC member turned CIA spy urged Obama to do something before the effort to stop Iran's regimes costs the lives of countless Iranians.
Instead of dealing with Iran, Obama is pushing for a world without nuclear weapons, as if the genie can be put back in the bottle and then we will all live in a world of peace and harmony. As I have written many times before, most recently here, this is not merely the most ridiculous of fantasies, it is must rank as one of the most dangerous. Is there anyone that thinks that, but for our nuclear deterrent, we would not already have fought WWIII against either against Russia or China - or both? WWII involved the deaths of over 60 million people and destroyed whole economies for decades. How many lives would WWIII have cost? The reality is that nuclear weapons are so cataclysmic that they do provide an effective deterrence.
The Obama Administration has countered criticism on this issue by saying that Reagan sought nuclear disarmament. True, but there is a very substantive difference between Reagan the realist and Obama the fantasist. Reagan sought a reduction of arms, not a "world without" nuclear weapons. Reagan wanted to build a defense against nuclear weapons - Obama has reduced funding for such a defense and, indeed, negotiated a new START treaty with Russia contingent on our not pursuing further such a defense. Reagan strengthened our conventional arms - Obama is cutting them. As James Carafano pointed out a few days ago in the Washington Examiner:
Like Reagan, Obama believes America must lead the way to nuclear disarmament. Unlike Reagan, he believes this requires an assertion of “moral” leadership, to be demonstrated simply by reducing our nuclear stockpile and refusing to modernize the U.S. arsenal. It’s a false premise…
Reagan recognized that the ultimate goal of arms negotiations is to make the world safer, more stable and more free. To eliminate the need for large nuclear arsenals, he went about eliminating the dependence — both ours and others’ — on massive nuclear attack as the guarantor of security.
Thus, the first items on Reagan’s agenda were building up U.S. conventional forces and introducing missile defenses. That allowed his negotiators to approach arms control agreements from a position of strength.
Obama has it backward. He started with cutting back on defense — especially in acquisition programs. Bye-bye, F-22.
He also cut missile defense, starting with systems to protect the homeland. But even that wasn’t enough to make the Russians happy.
“The problem is our America partners are developing missile defenses,” objected Prime Minister Vladimir Putin last December. “Our partners may come to feel completely safe.” That sounds like a leader who still thinks that maintaining the threat of nuclear attack is a good idea. If not, why is it a “problem” for Americans to feel safe?
Reagan understood his adversaries. Obama does not.
Yet another example of Obama's foray into fantasy was his recent change to our decades old nuclear use doctrine as part of Obama's Nuclear Posture Review. In an utterly bizarre twist, Obama took the ambiguity out of our doctrine - thus allowing any country that meets the IAEA guidelines for their nuclear program to conduct a chemical or biological attack on the U.S. in the fullness of knowing that the U.S. will no longer retain the option of responding with nuclear weapons. Under what possible scenario does that make us or the world safer? In what alternate reality does this make of us a moral example? This was a decision the NYT reports that was made over the objection of Sec. of Def. Gates. And as Voldka Pundit says, in a more thorough examination of this changed policy, "[i]f you didn’t already question Obama’s judgement, now would be a good time to start."
And then we come to Obama's recent nuclear summit where he asked countries such as Canada and Mexico to provide more security for their nuclear materials and to consider switching over to light water reactors. It was a real "peace in our time" moment. While not worthless - efforts to provide for greater nuclear security are always welcome - it was, in the grand scheme of things, the practical equivalent of a person, seeing their house engulfed in flames, choosing to urinate on the house rather than get the fire department over to put out the four alarm fire. Hailing this as a major achievement while ignoring the truly existential problems of Iran and Middle East nuclear proliferation is a suicidal game of smoke and mirrors. This from Charles Krauthammer:
See also Krauthammer's column on the nuclear summit, as well as Mark Steyn's always humorous take.
Ultimately, the only way to stop Iran's nuclear efforts - and to stop nuclear proliferation throughout the Middle East - is to make Iran pay too high a price for their continued efforts. Obama has never come to grips with the fact that the theocracy's goal number one is not to see Iran prosper, but to see the Khomeinist revolution exported as far as possible, regardless of the cost in blood. This is not a rational regime by Western standards. It is not a regime that will react to anything other than a threat to the regime's hold on power - and that is something the regime has demonstrated it will do ruthlessly and with extreme brutality against internal threats.
What all of this means is that the only possible way to achieve our goal of ending Iran's nuclear threat is to threaten or use sufficient force to end or endanger the regime. It is the only thing that has moved the theocracy each time we have threatened or used it in the past (see here), it is the only thing that will move them in the future. And the threat or use of force must be sufficiently strong and of such destructive potential that it similarly impresses the point on other regimes in the Middle East. That is the pure and simple reality that Obama finds difficult to grasp and is doing his best to ignore.
On a final note, I see that the Democrats can rest easy on the political spin - Allahpundit is apparently doing their job for them over at Hot Air.
No need to put all the blame on Obama here, though. Bush knew what it would mean to hand this issue off to a Democratic president and he went ahead and did it anyway. Invading Iraq necessarily left him with fewer military options against other threats; now the bill is coming due. As for Europe, Russia, and China, here’s the Times’s almost poignant description of the White House’s naivete: “Administration officials had hoped that the revelation by Mr. Obama in September that Iran was building a new uranium enrichment plant inside a mountain near Qum would galvanize other nations against Iran, but the reaction was muted.” The fact that western powers had been waltzing with Iran over its nuke program for fully seven years at that point might have given them a clue that no action would be taken, but that’s “smart power” for you.
So Bush is partly to blame because it was foreseeable that our progressive Democrats cannot be expected to act in defense of our country? That involves a rewrite of history and wholly inappropriately absolves the Democrats of personal responsibility. It ignores all of the efforts of Obama and others, including drafters of the 2007 NIE, to tie Bush's hands on the issue and insure that the problem of Iran would be handed over to the next President. This issue could have been dealt with in 2007 at a minimal cost in blood and gold. We are now in 2010, the hand off is complete, and Obama is at the helm. Yet as Obama engages in fantasy, we seem to be moving ever father away from a resolution and the situation grows ever more dire. Let's hope the "wake-up" call from Gates gets Obama's attention.