The Corner

Preempting Wmds

Over at The Volokh Conspiracy, David Bernstein reports a political

consensus in Israel in favor of an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Bernstein makes a strong case that an Israeli attack is likely. Yet attack

or no, we’re going to see huge developments out of Iran in the coming

years. If there’s no preemptive strike and Iran gets the bomb, the balance

in the war on terror will shift, and not in the right direction. And don’t

forget that North Korea likely has a bomb already and is probably making

more. The North Koreans, who already prop up their disastrous economy by

peddling contraband of all kinds, have plenty of reasons to sell their nukes.

Our failure to connect the war in Iraq to these problems is striking. I

recently read a cover editorial in The Economist about the need to stay in

Iraq that said not one word about nuclear proliferation. It wasn’t an

isolated case. The real cost of the missing WMD’s is that our intelligence

failure has put a lid on discussion of the most important reason for being

in Iraq. The administration has let go of half the argument, and the

Democrats’ political game depends on ignoring the threat. Saddam could

have reassembled his WMDs any old time. Worse, he could have bought

completed nukes and/or nuclear material from the North Koreans. Saddam was

already buying banned Korean missiles when we took him out. Given North

Korea’s ability to destroy Seoul with even conventional artillery, we

couldn’t have hit Korea. And given Iran’s larger size and relative ethnic

and political unity, it would have been even tougher to take on Iran than

Iraq. Taking down Saddam was our best shot at sending a signal to

potential rogue nuclear states that they had better fear us. Despite all

our divisions, that signal has gotten through. But unity at home would

make deterrence more effective.

I remember when doves were saying we shouldn’t attack Iraq because our

troops would be subject to chemical and biological strikes. If we hadn’t

gone in, every tinpot dictator would have known he could deter us with the

threat of a few chemical and biological missiles. Now they have to worry

that some cowboy American president will take them down.

Yeah, going into Iraq was the right thing. The real problem is that it

was only the least we could do, and not nearly enough to take care of the

problem. In the game of nuclear terror, I fear it’s the rogue states who

have the advantage. All they need is a bomb or two. Maybe Israel will do

our dirty work for us in Iran. Ahmadinejad’s wild remarks have made that a

lot easier to contemplate politically, not only in Israel, but here and in

Europe. But the Iranians are hiding what can be hidden, and the Koreans

may even now be selling what can be sold. Meanwhile, the Democrats are too

busy purging Joe Lieberman to have figured out we’re at war. Even our

hawks are more focused on the democracy issue than the nuclear

threat. Israel at least understands that they are just a bomb away from

disaster.

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