It’s a thought that ought to disturb the sleep of every decent person: The bloodthirsty haters in Iran armed with nuclear weapons and, let’s be clear about this, ready to use those weapons at any moment, against any number of its many enemies.
The prospect is real, and is simply intolerable. Or so you’d think. But some commentators are going wobbly, as Margaret Thatcher might say. Bill Keller of The New York Times spoke not just for himself but for other accommodationists the other day when he wrote a long piece that concluded, in essence, that Tehran is going to get nuclear weapons no matter what we do. So we need to figure out how to live with his unavoidable reality.
It’s hard to know where to start, except to say that no Israeli should expect to live very long if Iran gets nuclear weapons, since it is the express desire of Iran’s leaders to wipe the Jewish state and its inhabitants off the map.
Mr. Keller argues that nuclear weapons have proven to be a stabilizing force—India and Pakistan, for example, have not gone to war since obtaining nukes. And the Soviet Union and the United States kept their hostilities to a minimum even when tensions were high during the Cold War. Mr. Keller argues that these nations understood the consequences of mutually assured destruction.
Iran, however, is different, and those who fail to acknowledge that difference either are lying to themselves or are hopelessly naïve. The leaders in the Kremlin were, at the end of the day, rational beings. They had no desire to bring the world as they knew it to an end. The leaders of India and Pakistan similarly understand that nuclear conflict will have no good ending.
There is nothing—nothing—to indicate that the madmen who run Iran think along these lines. They would welcome the sacrifice of millions of Iranians if it meant the destruction of Israel. This is a nation that sponsors small-scale suicide attacks. Why would anybody ever think that they would not support a suicidal attack on Israel—or, for that matter, on the United States?
Iran has made its intentions clear—just as Hitler did in Mein Kampf. Have we learned so little from history? Is it possible that people like Mr. Keller think that the Iranians are just kidding when they issue their regularly scheduled threats to Israel’s existence?
Let’s suppose, for the sake of argument, that the Iranian threats are just so much political rhetoric, designed merely to please Jew-hating terrorist groups throughout the Middle East. If Iran decided that trading Tehran for Tel Aviv wasn’t worth it, how hard would it be to slip a nuke to Hamas? Iran does not lack for admirers among the world’s Islamic terrorists. Surely the Iranians could find somebody to do their dirty work—although, again, there’s no reason to think that they would shy away from carrying out mass slaughter themselves.
Israel, the United States, Europe and even Iran’s enemies in the Arab world have every reason to believe that Iran’s leaders have every intention of using every weapon in their arsenal. That arsenal must not be allowed to contain a single nuclear weapon.