Commentary Magazine


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What Happens When Iran Gets the Bomb

John Bolton writes that we can no longer avoid the obvious: “There are only two options: Iran gets nuclear weapons, or someone uses pre-emptive military force to break Iran’s nuclear fuel cycle and paralyze its program, at least temporarily.” The watered-down sanctions under contemplation by the UN or being slow-walked through Congress are too little, too late. And as Bolton notes, it is virtually inconceivable that Obama will employ military force to thwart the mullahs’ nuclear plans. So where does that leave us? Bolton explains:

That leaves Israel, which the administration is implicitly threatening not to resupply with airplanes and weapons lost in attacking Iran—thereby rendering Israel vulnerable to potential retaliation from Hezbollah and Hamas.

It is hard to conclude anything except that the Obama administration is resigned to Iran possessing nuclear weapons. While U.S. policy makers will not welcome that outcome, they certainly hope as a corollary that Iran can be contained and deterred. Since they have ruled out the only immediate alternative, military force, they are doubtless now busy preparing to make lemonade out of this pile of lemons.

The notion that we can contain a nuclear-armed Iran is preposterous — for we are not containing an Iran that lacks a nuclear capability. For those who perceive a nuclear-armed revolutionary Islamic state as literally “unacceptable” — not merely regrettable, as the Obami seem to — Bolton suggests that it is time to begin marshalling support for Israel’s military action:

We should recognize that an Israeli use of military force would be neither precipitate nor disproportionate, but only a last resort in anticipatory self-defense. Arab governments already understand that logic and largely share it themselves. Such a strike would advance both Israel’s and America’s security interests, and also those of the Arab states.

Nonetheless, the intellectual case for that strike must be better understood in advance by the American public and Congress in order to ensure a sympathetic reaction by Washington. Absent Israeli action, no one should base their future plans on anything except coping with a nuclear Iran.

That would seem to be a worthwhile endeavor for American Jewish officialdom. If they can’t bring themselves to confront the Obami on the lack of a serious American policy to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran (where are the howls of protest about the administrations’ efforts to carve out Russia and China from petroleum sanctions?) and cannot bear to withhold electoral or financial support from those throwing sand in the gears of unilateral action (i.e., congressional Democrats), then perhaps they can work on another project: garnering support for Israel if and when the Jewish state is compelled to strike. And if the “leaders” of American Jewry can’t do even that – at the very least demand that members of Congress and the administration provide support (diplomatic, financial, and otherwise) to Israel in a military confrontation with the Iranian regime? If not, these “leaders” have become at best irrelevant and at worst enablers of an administration paralyzed and seeking to paralyze Israel from removing an existential threat to itself.