Published by The Freeman Center
The Maccabean Online
Political Analysis and Commentary
As we go to press, the Governing Board of the International Atomic Energy Agency appears set to refer Iran
to the U.N. Security Council. This supposedly indicates the seriousness with which the world views Tehran\'s
decision to resume enriching uranium. Yet while the threat is very real, the seriousness is mostly pretend. The
referral includes no call to action, which Russia and China object to in any event. We will have future
occasions to lament U.N. fecklessness vis-à-vis Iran. More worrisome is the hazy thinking about just what
Iran\'s nuclear programs portend, and whether the risks of stopping it outweigh the risks of simply acquiescing
in the "inevitable." For now, the weight of elite opinion, sighs and laments aside, seems to be on the side of
acquiescence. And the Iranians know it.
"I would sleep happier if there were no Iranian bomb," writes former Times of London editor Simon Jenkins. "But a swamp of hypocrisy separates me from overly protesting it." Iran, he adds, "is a proud country that sits between nuclear Pakistan and India to its east, a nuclear Russia to its north and a nuclear Israel to its West. . . . How can we say such a country has \'no right\' to nuclear defense?" In other words, what\'s the big deal?
Well, the deal is the combination of the world\'s most destructive weapons in the hands of clerical radicals who might use them. And even short of using them, Tehran\'s rulers could use the leverage of the bomb to dominate the Middle East and limit America\'s ability to defend itself and fight terrorism. Now that Saddam Hussein is in jail, the Iranian bomb is the gravest threat in the world to U.S. interests.
The most immediate threat in the region would be to Israel, an ally that only this week President Bush said we would defend against Iran. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has publicly mused that the Jewish state should be "wiped off the map," and former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has said that "the use of a nuclear bomb in Israel will leave nothing on the ground whereas it will only damage the world of Islam." Why should we assume they don\'t mean this?
All the more so because Iran\'s current leaders seem possessed of an apocalyptic Islamist vision that wouldn\'t mind an episode of pan-global martyrdom. "We must prepare ourselves to rule the world and the only way to do that is to put forth views on the basis of the Expectation of the Return" of the Mahdi (Shiite Messiah), says Mr. Ahmadinejad.