According to a few who attended a recent small gathering with Bernard Lewis, regarded as the “dean” of Islamic scholars in the U. S., he made the chilling statement that the West is today at a point with the Iranian regime almost exactly where we were with the Nazi regime in 1938. This is a striking realization, and one that we had best take seriously. In his 2002 “axis of evil” address, in which he identified Iran as one of three regimes comprising this axis, President Bush also said this: “I will not wait on events, while dangers gather…..The USA will not permit the world’s most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world’s most destructive weapons…..” Any number of our leaders from the President on down, have labeled Iran’s possession of a nuclear weapons capability “unacceptable”, which is certainly appropriate rhetoric. My question is whether or not, in all of its implications, we really mean that. If we do, then we should very soon be at the “this will not stand” stage of Iranian diplomacy, a la Kuwait in 1991, and Congressional leaders, in this election year, should be called by their constituents to declare whether or not an Iranian nuclear capability is truly unacceptable.And let’s face it—we won’t have any more allies in this confrontation than with the war in Iraq and, while we all recognize that a confrontation with Iran would be much easier to contemplate with a significantly improved situation in Iraq, neither of these facts change by one iota the nature of the threat nor should they alter our response to it.
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