President Bush should disregard the National Intelligence Estimate’s recent downplaying of the Iranian threat and destroy Iran’s nuclear capabilities — or else nuclear war will be “inescapable,” declares neocon commentator Norman Podhoretz.
Podhoretz, editor-at-large of Commentary, writes in the February issue that he first stated a year ago that Bush would bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities before leaving office.
But then came December’s release of a report from the NIE, which alleged that Iran had halted its nuclear-weapons program in 2003 — while acknowledging that the program could be restarted at any time.
In spite of “efforts to demonstrate that the new NIE did not prove that Iran had given up its pursuit of nuclear weapons, just about everyone in the world immediately concluded otherwise, and further concluded that this meant the military option was off the table,” Podhoretz writes.
Podhoretz, author of the new book “World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism,” recounts a conversation he had with a member of America’s foreign-policy establishment.
“He took the position that there was really no need to stop [the Iranians] in the first place, since even if they had the bomb they could be deterred from using it, just as effectively as the Soviets and Chinese had been deterred during the cold war…
“In response, I argued that deterrence could not be relied upon with a regime ruled by Islamofascist revolutionaries who not only were ready to die for their beliefs, but cared less about protecting their people than about the spread of their ideology and their power.”
With the NIE seemingly making it “politically impossible” for Bush to attack Iran, Podhoretz says the U.S. could choose to “outsource” the job to Israel.
If the mullahs in Iran obtained nuclear weapons, a nuclear exchange with Israel would become “inevitable,” Podhoretz opines, and could even force Israel to attack key Arab neighbors to prevent them from capitalizing on the destruction wrought by the Iranian attack.
The resulting horrors would “be far greater than even the direst consequences that might follow from bombing Iran before it reaches the point of no return” and obtains the bomb, Podhoretz observes.
But he believes Israel, despite its military strength, would find it difficult to adequately destroy Iran’s nuclear capabilities — so “it is the United States that will have to do the preventing, to do it by means of a bombing campaign, and … to do it soon.”
Unless we do, he concludes, “we had all better pray that there will be enough time for the next president to discharge the responsibility that Bush will have been forced to pass on, and that this successor will also have the clarity and the courage to discharge it.
“If not — God help us all — the stage will have been set for the outbreak of a nuclear war that will become as inescapable then as it is avoidable now.”
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