by Austin Bay
May 9, 2006
Ever since Ayatollah Khomeini toppled the Shah, Iran's theocrats
have regularly threatened Israel with genocide. That is what destruction and
extermination mean -- genocide, with murder measured in the millions.
The Israelis have decided to respond to Iranian genocidal
menace by reminding the mullahs of the stakes.
Israeli Vice Premier Shimon Peres made the warning explicit,
telling Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that he "should remember that
Iran can also be wiped off the map. Tehran is making a mockery of the
international community's effort to solve the crisis surrounding Iran's
nuclear program. Iran presents a danger to the entire world, not just to us
The Peres statement is Middle East speak for what the Cold War
called MAD -- Mutual Assured Destruction. It's the Dr. Strangelove paradox
behind nuclear deterrence -- you try to nuke us, we'll turn you into
The Israelis are not bluffing, and anyone who thinks they are is
a contemptible naif. Hitler's Holocaust is an unforgivable historical fact,
and when the Israelis say, "Never again," they mean it.
Peres is right -- Iran presents a danger to the entire world,
but this "entire world" has too many regimes either rhetorically or
financially sympathetic to Iran. The rhetorical sympathizers really aren't
the biggest obstacle to restraining -- and ultimately defanging -- Tehran's
mad mullahs. Charges of "American imperialism" made by Third World dictators
don't create the political stir they once did. The financially sympathetic,
however, are another matter. China and Russia appear to be willing to
sacrifice Israeli blood for Iranian oil.
Ahmadinejad knows who his real enemies are: the Western
democracies. In a rambling 18-page letter to President George Bush,
Ahmadinejad opined: "Liberalism and Western-style democracy have not been
able to help realize the ideals of humanity. Today, these two concepts have
failed. Those with insight can already hear the sounds of the shattering and
fall of the ideology and thoughts of the liberal democratic systems."
No doubt Russia's throwback fascists and the authoritarian
suits running China harbor hopes that Ahmadinejad is right. China's bosses,
however, fear the democratic forces in their own country.
Iran's turbaned tyrants also sit on an angry and alienated
populace. The mullahs fear their own people. In the long run, the Iranian
people would topple the turbans. The mullahs' regime is a kleptocracy, a
cultural desert and an economic bog. However, the short nuclear fuse may
short-circuit the long run.
I am not convinced that war between the United States and Iran
is inevitable. For years, I've advocated Western support of Iranian
democratic opposition groups, to include overt and covert aid. The Iranian
regime is rife with internal corruption. The regime itself is no monolith.
Real economic sanctions could shake Ahmadinejad's government.
Iran's sick economy relies on numerous imports. But the prospect of "real
sanctions" emerging from the U.N. Security Council are slim. Real sanctions
ultimately mean enforced sanctions, and given the porosity of Iran's
borders -- and the porosity of commitments by the likes of Russia and
China -- the likelihood of enforced sanctions drops from slim to none.
So what's the United States to do, if the Iranians obtain a
nuclear bomb and we know the Israelis will then proceed to make very certain
Iran's nutcases never use it?
The most potent U.S. military option is the "simultaneous
strategic bombing strike." This attack would produce the most hellacious 10
minutes in Iran's long and illustrious history. One eye-popping scenario has
aircraft, cruise missiles and perhaps ballistic missiles with conventional
warheads delivering at least 2,000 precision blockbuster-sized weapons
within that time frame on Iran's two dozen or so "critical nuclear-related
targets." The United States may also take control of the Strait of Hormuz at
the mouth of the Persian Gulf, by eliminating Iranian naval and shore
Defensive preparations will include the deployment of
additional anti-missile missiles in the region. Some planners suspect Iran
will try to attack its neighbors. Iraq, with its U.S. troop contingents, may
not be the primary target. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait's oil fields and oil
transportation facilities are tempting targets for conventional, terrorist
or even chemical weapon strikes.
Dangerous? Regrettably so. Iran's genocidal mullahs have chosen
a dangerous path. The irony is that such an attack might save Iran from
becoming a radioactive wasteland.