Commentary Magazine


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Time to Focus on What Matters

John Bolton has his eye on the ball and some practical advice for those who perceive that Obama’s nonproliferation strategy is a failure:

As Tehran and Pyongyang can plainly see, President Obama’s nonproliferation strategy is intellectually and politically exhausted. But U.S. exhaustion will not lead to stasis. North Korea and Iran will continue their nuclear and ballistic missile programs in the face of our feeble policy.

What can be done? Bolton suggests that lawmakers and opinion makers “must demand increased intelligence collection on the North Korea-Iran connection. Where possible without compromising sources and methods, this information should be disseminated to increase public awareness.” Perhaps even more important, Bolton recommends:

Slowly, but now with increasing certainty, analysts have come to understand that Iran is going to become a nuclear-weapons state sooner rather than later. Arab states have understood this for some time and have hoped for a pre-emptive U.S. strike. But that will not happen under Mr. Obama absent a Damascene conversion in the Oval Office.

What outsiders can do is create broad support for Israel’s inherent right to self-defense against a nuclear Holocaust and defend the specific tactic of pre-emptive attacks against Iran’s Esfahan uranium-conversion plant, its Natanz enrichment facility, and other targets. Congress can make it clear, for example, that it would support immediate resupply and rearming to make up for Israeli losses in the event of such an attack. Having visible congressional support in place at the outset will reassure the Israeli government, which is legitimately concerned about Mr. Obama’s likely negative reaction to such an attack.

What is remarkable is that virtually no lawmaker or Jewish organization to date has done this — not remotely. They have, by and large, marched in lockstep with the administration, holding out hope in the face of abundant contrary evidence that engagement and then sanctions were serious attempts to dismantle the nuclear program, and if push came to shove that ”all options would be on the table.” But engagement was a failure, Obama missed an opportunity to back the Green movement, sanctions are too little, too late, and Obama shows no interest in the use of military force.

It would be tragic if Obama abdicated his role as leader of the Free World to thwart Iran’s nuclear plans. The blow to American stature and credibility after the “unacceptable” was allowed to happen on his watch would be immense. But it would be catastrophic if Obama hindered Israel in the event the Jewish state acted in its own defense. Israel’s friends should begin now, not a month or a year from now, to make clear to the White House that Obama will find no support in Congress, among American Jewry, and in the entire country (which remains pro-Israel) for anything less than unqualified and unconditional support for Israel should force be required.

The Jewish community has gotten distracted by the “peace process.” It’s not only futile — it’s a dangerous sideshow that has allowed the administration to escape criticism for an entirely ineffective Iran policy. What matters now — and should be fully debated in the election — is what America will do to defuse the looming threat of a nuclear-armed Islamic revolutionary state. Yes, it is an emergency.