Cal­cu­lat­ing the risk of ig­nor­ing the Ira­nian threat

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - DAN BUR­TON

On Aug. 23, 1939, Soviet For­eign Min­is­ter Vyacheslav Molo­tov stunned the world by sign­ing the Nazi-Soviet Non-ag­gres­sion Pact un­der the watch­ful eyes of Ger­man For­eign Min­is­ter Joachim Von Ribben­trop and Soviet leader Josef Stalin. With the sweep of a pen Soviet Rus­sia paved the way for the be­gin­ning of World War II by as­sur­ing Hitler he would not have to fight a war on two fronts. That er­ror in judg­ment cost roughly 62 mil­lion peo­ple across the globe their lives; in­clud­ing 6 mil­lion Jews and 23 mil­lion Rus­sians.

Sixty-seven years later it seems that once again Rus­sia has yielded to the de­struc­tive am­bi­tions of a tyrant and an an­ti­Semite. By re­fus­ing to sup­port tough sanc­tions on Iran over its dan­ger­ous nu­clear en­rich­ment pro­gram, Rus­sia is once again ex­pos­ing the world to unimag­in­able car­nage, cer­tainly much worse than that of World War II. While Rus­sia’s fail­ure to learn from his­tory is par­tic­u­larly shock­ing, and has made it the chief stum­bling block to the U.N. con­fronting Iran, it is not alone in avert­ing its gaze from the pend­ing dis­as­ter, as de­tailed be­low.

Tehran claims its nu­clear pro­gram is a peace­ful one, de­signed to gen­er­ate elec­tric­ity, but many out­side ex­perts and lead­ers ac­knowl­edge that Iran is at­tempt­ing to achieve a nu­clear weapons ca­pa­bil­ity. Even the In­ter­na­tional Atomic En­ergy Agency (IAEA) says it can­not ver­ify that Iran’s pro­gram — con­cealed from U.N. in­spec­tors for many years — is purely peace­ful. In fact, the IAEA stated in its Jan. 31 and Feb. 27 re­ports that doc­u­ments found by IAEA in­spec­tors show a pos­si­ble “mil­i­tary nu­clear di­men­sion” to Iran’s pro­gram.

But is the world act­ing to end this threat? Clearly not. In­stead, the United Na­tions, Rus­sia, China, the Euro­pean Union, many in Congress and some high-rank­ing of­fi­cials in the State De­part­ment all be­lieve that we can ne­go­ti­ate with Ira­nian Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ah­madine­jad. Of greater con­cern, the Iraq Study Group, chaired by James Baker and Lee Hamil­ton, is ex­pected to make sim­i­lar rec­om­men­da­tions as the cen­ter­piece of its broadly an­tic­i­pated blue­print for turn­ing the course in Iraq. All of th­ese peo­ple seem to be­lieve that Mr. Ah­madine­jad can be per­suaded to give up his nu­clear am­bi­tions. Sim­i­larly, in Septem­ber 1938, the great Euro­pean pow­ers and the League of Na­tions be­lieved that Hitler could be per­suaded to give up his am­bi­tion of con­quest by sim­ply giv­ing him Cze­choslo­vakia’s Sude­ten­land. How­ever, al­most ex­actly a year later Hitler de­rided the agree­ment as just a “scrap of pa­per” and in­vaded Poland ig­nit­ing World War II.

The pro­po­nents of ap­pease­ment failed the world in 1939 and they will also fail to­day. Namely, those po­lit­i­cal lead­ers here at home and abroad who preach “di­a­logue” with Iran and rapid re­de­ploy­ment from Iraq — based on an ar­ti­fi­cial timetable, and re­gard­less of the sit­u­a­tion left be­hind — are risk­ing the same big mis­take. Such a move will un­doubt­edly be viewed as a vic­tory in Tehran, just as Hitler viewed the Mu­nich Agree­ment as a ma­jor vic­tory that con­firmed his im­pres­sion of a world un­will­ing to stop his march. Un­for­tu­nately for the world, this is the nu­clear age and the con­se­quences of fail­ure this time around could lit­er­ally bring the end of civ­i­liza­tion.

To Hitler, the process of diplo­macy was only a farce to pre­vent sanc­tions that would con­strain Ger­many’s rear­ma­ment and prepa­ra­tions for war. Ev­ery with­drawal by the al­lies sim­ply served to strengthen Hitler’s de­ter­mi­na­tion to con­quer. Sim­i­larly, to Mr. Ah­madine­jad, the process of diplo­macy is sim­ply a fa­cade meant to pre­vent sanc­tions that would con­strain Iran’s nu­clear weapons de­vel­op­ment and its prepa­ra­tions for war. Make no mis­take, Iran is not only pre­par­ing for war, but pre­par­ing to carry out a new holo­caust, per­haps more de­struc­tive than the last one (which Mr. Ah­madine­jad de­spi­ca­bly de­nies, even while the last of its sur­vivors still walk the Earth).

The proof can be found in Mr. Ah­madine­jad’s own words. On Oct. 26, 2005, he stated at a Tehran con­fer­ence ti­tled “A World With­out Zion­ism” that “Is­rael should be wiped off the map” and that “any­body who rec­og­nizes Is­rael will burn in the fire of the Is­lamic na­tions’ fury.” On Dec. 9 and Dec. 14, 2005, and again on May 28, he ques­tioned the ve­rac­ity of the Holo­caust. In the Dec. 14 case, he called it a “myth” — and stated that Europe should cre­ate a Jewish state in Europe, not in the Mid­dle East.

To mark “Quds” day on Oct. 20 — an Ira­nian “hol­i­day” call­ing for war against Is­rael un­der the premise of “lib­er­at­ing” Jerusalem — Ira­nian news­pa­pers Ke­hyan and Re­salat, both con­trolled by the gov­ern­ment, pub­lished edi­to­ri­als urg­ing Mus­lims around the world to pre­pare for a “great war” to de­stroy Is­rael.

I agree with Is­raeli Likud leader Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu, who said re­cently that Tehran’s nu­clear and mis­sile pro­gram “goes way be­yond the de­struc­tion of Is­rael — it is di­rected to achieve world-wide range. It’s a global pro­gram in the ser­vice of a mad ide­ol­ogy.” He went on to say: “Is­rael would cer­tainly be the first stop on Iran’s tour of de­struc­tion, but at the planned pro­duc­tion rate of 25 nu­clear bombs a year [. . .] [the arse­nal] will be di­rected against ‘the big Satan,’ the U.S., and the ‘mod­er­ate Satan,’ Europe.”

No one cared to imag­ine the worst in 1939, and many seem un­pre­pared to imag­ine the worst now. Once again, mil­lions of in­no­cent peo­ple could pay the price for our folly. His­tory has looked back upon 1938 and 1939 as one of the great “ifs” of the 20th cen­tury: If only the Al­lies had stood up to Hitler; if only the Soviet Union hadn’t signed the non-ag­gres­sion pact with Hitler. I do not want his­tory to look back upon 2006 and 2007 — as­sum­ing there is a civ­i­liza­tion ca­pa­ble of look­ing back — as the great “if” of the 21st cen­tury. Have we not learned from so re­cent a his­tory with so many par­al­lels?

There is still time for the world to wake up and re­al­ize that no con­ceiv­able car­rot will per­suade the lead­er­ship in Tehran not to ac­quire nu­clear weapons. If al­lowed to, it will surely use them as lever­age to im­pose its will and, in the end, de­ploy them to un­leash an apoc­a­lypse. We must sum­mon the po­lit­i­cal will and vi­sion to do what­ever it takes to elim­i­nate Tehran’s nu­clear pro­gram now. If we wait ad­di­tional years, our ca­pa­bil­ity to stop th­ese nu­clear mad­men will sim­ply cease to ex­ist.

Rep. Dan Bur­ton is an In­di­ana Repub­li­can.

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