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An Ultimatum for Iran
Our options against a nuclear-armed Iran are bad. Doing nothing is worse.

Anthony Cordesman, military analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies

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Charles Krauthammer

Either Israel is engaged in the most elaborate ruse since the Trojan Horse or it is on the cusp of a pre-emptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

What’s alarming is not just Iran’s increasing store of uranium or the growing sophistication of its rocketry. It’s also the increasingly menacing annihilationist threats emanating from Iran’s leaders. Israel’s existence is “an insult to all humanity,” says President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. “Anyone who loves freedom and justice must strive for the annihilation of the Zionist regime.” Explains the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Israel is “a true cancer tumor on this region that should be cut off.”

Everyone wants to avoid military action, surely the Israelis above all. They can expect a massive counterattack from Iran, 50,000 rockets launched from Lebanon, Islamic jihad firing from Gaza, and worldwide terror against Jewish and Israeli targets, such as what happened last month in Bulgaria.

Yet Israel will not sit idly by in the face of the most virulent genocidal threats since Nazi Germany. The result then was 6 million murdered Jews. There are 6 million living in Israel today.

Time is short. Last-ditch negotiations in Istanbul, Baghdad, and Moscow have failed abjectly. The Iranians are contemptuously playing with the process. The strategy is delay until they get the bomb.

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What to do? The sagest advice comes from Anthony Cordesman, military analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, hardheaded realist, and a believer that “multilateralism and soft power must still be the rule and not the exception.”

He may have found his exception. “There are times when the best way to prevent war is to clearly communicate that it is possible,” he argues. Today, the threat of a U.S. attack is not taken seriously. Not by the region. Not by Iran. Not by the Israelis, who therefore increasingly feel forced to act before Israel’s more limited munitions — far less powerful and effective than those in the U.S. arsenal — can no longer penetrate Iran’s ever-hardening facilities.

Cordesman therefore proposes threefold action.

1. Clear U.S. redlines.

It’s time to end the ambiguity about American intentions. Establish real limits on negotiations — to convince Iran that the only alternative to a deal is preemptive strikes, and to convince Israel to stay its hand.



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