by J. F. Kelly, Jr. | Coronado

In spite of repeated sanctions and warnings, all lame and ineffective, Iran continues its inexorable drive to acquire a nuclear arsenal. President Barack Obama, his predecessor and other western leaders have stated repeatedly that this is not acceptable. Their concerns are even echoed, if somewhat muted, by some Arab leaders in the region who understand that a nuclear-armed Iran, led by the certifiably crazy Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, would further destabilize the Middle East and set off an arms race.

Yet, in spite of worldwide condemnation and perhaps even encouraged by it, Iran’s ruling theocracy will soon achieve its cherished goal of becoming a nuclear power. They will then be in a position to carry out their stated intention of destroying the Jewish State and its inhabitants. Does anyone doubt that the volatile, unpredictable and hate-filed Ahmadinejad is capable of acting on this threat, even at the risk of incurring a nuclear response which they probably believe they could absorb? Even if doubt exists, is it a risk that we can afford to take?

And how do you suppose the Obama administration would respond to such an attack on Israel? Would a government which has dithered so long in dealing with the Iranian threat be resolute enough to act resolutely then? Or would we dither further, resorting to damage control and still further attempts to negotiate and compromise?  Would this administration have the courage to use nuclear weapons if necessary even to defend America from attack, let alone its allies?  Many Americans no longer believe in the credibility of this administration. Why, then, should our enemies?

Wars have been started in the past because of doubts regarding our resolve. The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor partly because many of their leaders believed that America was a paper tiger. North Korea, backed by its Soviet and Chinese sponsors, invaded South Korea believing that President Harry Truman, who was busily dismantling the Army and Navy at the time, had no stomach for another expeditionary war so soon after the “war to end all wars.” It took President Dwight Eisenhower’s credibility and the belief on the part of the Communists that he would actually authorize nuclear weapons, if necessary, to finally end the war.

Ahmadinejad clearly regards the United States as a paper tiger whose warnings can be dismissed with impunity. He quite likely believes that we would not use nuclear weapons at all except perhaps to defend our own soil. He knows that the acquisition of nukes by Iran is a game changer. He knows further that his own reputation for volatility and irrational behavior actually makes his own threats credible and that he can use them to blackmail America and his own neighbors.

And still the Obama Administration continues to dither, taking baby steps to ramp up economic sanctions that have done little more than inconvenience Iranian citizens and raise the price of gasoline. The administration rationalizes its restraint, pointing out that dissatisfaction with the regime within Iran is growing. We should not delude ourselves. We will all grow old waiting for another revolution in Iran.

It’s too late now to say that time is running out. Time has already run out. The window for Israeli military action to take out the well-dispersed and hardened nuclear sites has probably closed. Now, only the United States has, for certain, the military capability to avert what we have repeatedly termed unacceptable.

The time for diplomacy is over. It has failed. It never really had a chance since the threatened consequences had no real teeth. We have wasted much time by trying which raises the risks incident to a military solution. All that negotiation gained for us was a reputation for indecisiveness and bluster which our enemies see as weakness. They have stalled for time and succeeded in gaining it.

If sanctions ever were to work, they had to be meaningful. A military blockade or quarantine might have succeeded. There probably isn’t enough time now. The only real question that should remain is whether or not we should try one last warning. That warning should be either dismantle your nuclear facilities and open them up for inspection immediately to verify progress toward compliance or the U.S. will act unilaterally to take them out, based upon the real threat they are about to pose to our allies.

The time for talk has run out. The threat of inaction grows daily.


copyright 2010 J.F. Kelly, Jr

J.F. Kelly, Jr. is a retired Navy Captain and bank executive who writes on current events and military subjects. He is a resident of Coronado, California.

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