History Doomed To Be Repeated
After months upon months of uncertainty, it would seem a deal has been reached with Iran concerning its nuclear program. Final ratification by the American Congress still awaits, and is far from certain, but what is certain is that an agreement, in some detail, has been reached between the Western powers and the Islamic Republic. Iran will have sanctions relief, and the promise of an end to its weapons embargo. In return, the Iranian theocracy will reduce its nuclear production, verified by some degree of outside inspection, for fifteen years.
To say this is a bad agreement, brokered by a lame duck president desperate to leave some kind of legacy, is an understatement. Iran, as it stands now, is weaker than it ever has been. Its economy is dying. Its traditional allies are either fighting for their own very survival in Syria or preoccupied with pursuing their own agenda in eastern Ukraine. What has Obama’s response been? To give the mullahs of Iran the very thing they are desperate for, relief from the economic sanctions crushing their citizens’ livelihood, all for an agreement that ensured that in a mere decade and a half we will face an Islamic Republic of Iran that will have a nuclear arsenal of its own.
Be under no illusion; that is what this deal guarantees. Just as Neville Chamberlain proclaimed “peace in our time” at the price of selling out Czechoslovakia to the aggression of Nazi Germany, Barack Obama has handed the job of solving the mess that a nuclear armed Iranian state will be to the next generation. Rather than confront the hard choices before him, he has chosen to punt. This agreement certainly makes sense from Iran’s perspective. Autocracies, free of the four to five year timeframes between elections that democracies obsessively live by, are free to take the long view. To the ayatollahs a delay of fifteen years is nothing if it buys them some domestic peace in the interim. From the West’s perspective this is much less appealing. The only real answer that has been offered by the Obama administration as to what shall be done in fifteen years when the nuclear restrictions expire is the wistful hope that by then the current Iranian regime will have somehow collapsed and been replaced by a more civilized, less hell-bent on genocide, alternative. This reckless gamble is made all the more foolhardy by the fact in easing the sanctions against Iran the one tangible threat to the Iran’s current government has just been taken off the table. “Shame, an eternal shame, nothing but shame,” the Marshal of France lamented in Shakespeare’s Henry V at the sight of France’s chivalry being laid low by the English longbows, and those words ring especially true now at the sight of the United States being reduced to forlornly hoping that something, anything, will happen to somehow solve this crisis for them, perhaps by magic or possibly by luck.
Left unanswered is the question of what is to be done if the Iranian regime does not somehow collapse in the next fifteen years before the green light is given to resume building their nuclear arsenal. Some of the usual suspects all but cheer at the possibility, and for them I have no words. To those so blinded by Western self-loathing that they see any blow struck against America as an event to be celebrated, no matter who it is who delivers the punch or how heinous the aftermath is, I have nothing to say for there is in truth nothing to say. There is another camp, however, who seem to believe that a nuclear Iran is something to be lived with. I’ve even heard the odd argument that Iran, once self-assured by the protection of a nuclear weapon, might become a valuable partner in securing peace within the Middle East; after all haven’t they been such helpful chaps in this latest nasty business concerning ISIS. My following words are aimed at them.
Such sentiments have been heard before, when thoughtful intellectuals argued that a mustached megalomaniac only needed to be shown a bit of respect, and that acts of provocative aggression were merely an impolite request for justice by a mistreated nation unfairly scapegoated by an old peace treaty hammered out in the disused palace of a former French King. This miscalculation proved to be disastrous, and the blood of millions extracted on the battlefield or in the horrors of the crematoria was the price that was paid for it. This will end no better.
Be under no illusion, Iran is not our friend. They aspire to a new Dark Ages ruled by a glorious Caliphate just as much as the monsters of Islamic State do. Their recent conflict with ISIS comes from the same motivations of two street gangs rumbling over some street corner they both realize only one can be the boss of. The question that must be asked then is will the acquisition of a nuclear weapon make Iran stronger and more dangerous, or weaker and less so. It is a question that does not need to be answered for it is self-apparent.
Look to the recent crisis in the Ukraine if you require living evidence of why a nuclear armed Iran would be an impediment to peace in the Middle East. Vladimir Putin’s relatively free hand to wreak havoc has partially been enabled by Barack Obama’s spineless aversion to the deployment of US military power, but has also come from the knowledge that as a nuclear power in its own right Russia can only be pressed so hard by military means before the unthinkable becomes the one thing that everyone is thinking of. A nuclear weapon gives a nation an ironclad get-out-of-jail-free card, in that it promises that if backed into a corner the regime holding it will have one final, terrible option other than surrender and defeat. As is, Iran has been a state-sponsor or terror and an enabler of odious regimes such as Bashir Al-Assad and destabilizing forces such as the Shiite militias of Iraq and Lebanon. Give them the protection of a nuclear device and their actions will become only more brazen as the need for any form of plausible deniability disappears.
But what is our alternative, the question is asked as an accusation again and again by those who would merely throw up their hands and bow down before what they see as the inevitable. The answer is “whatever is necessary”. It’s said that bombing would only delay Iran’s nuclear ambitions by two or three years at most. Fine then, in two or three years we can always go back and bomb them again, and again, and again, and again. Any scenario is preferable to one where Iran acquires nuclear weaponry for, to turn the question back at the question, what is the alternative? It
must be stressed that the Iranian government must not be equated with the Iranian people. Ordinary people of Iran are heirs to an impressive historical and cultural legacy that stretches all the way back to Persia, but it is a legacy that the Iranian government not only rejects but has made the destruction of their rationale for existence. It is the Iranian regime that is the enemy that must be stopped, not the Iranian people. It is a regime that denies the last Holocaust while simultaneously plotting the next one. It is a regime that sees the last two thousand years of human evolution and advancement as an error that must be erased and rolled back. It is a regime that must be stopped, no matter what.
The lesson of the past century is that when someone says they want to exterminate you take them at their word; believe them when they say it. It is a lesson that we forget at our peril and to our own shame. It is a lesson, sadly, that Barack Obama seems to have forgotten, and if he is not reminded then we will reap a whirlwind of terror.