Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.
Many in the chattering classes in the United States recently devoted their energy to the controversy about ABC’s television film “The Path to 9/11.”
Partisanship seems to dominate virtually every discussion these days. So it was no surprise that, just as Republicans have sought to minimize the lack of attention paid to the terror threat by the Bush administration, so, too, have Democrats resisted the notion that the failures of the Clinton administration be highlighted, as the film did with some respects.
With so much attention devoted to wacko conspiracy theories about the 9/11 attacks available on the Internet, and with seemingly more respectable conversations conducted by our political elites devoted to assigning blame to their foes and absolving their friends, intelligent discussions of the issue have been largely crowded out by the din of nonsense.
That makes for good shouting matches on the all-news cable stations, but like many Americans, my tolerance for the genre is limited. The painful truth about 9/11 is that outside of a few experts on the issue – such as scholar Daniel Pipes or journalist Steven Emerson – there were precious few writing and speaking about the danger of Islamic terrorism before Sept. 11, 2001.
And these men were routinely ignored or derided by more influential figures in the media, academia and halls of power. If the FBI and CIA operatives failed to gain the attention of their political masters for an all-out commitment to resist the murderers before that date (a sore point for some viewers of the ABC film), it was because so few were prepared to speak out about the danger at that time.
Hence, the political support necessary for the drastic increase in intelligence and military resources devoted to the fight was simply lacking. If extraordinary measures such as federal forces’ eavesdropping on suspected terrorists are still considered controversial today by some, even more limited measures aimed at rooting terror front groups were unthinkable prior to 9/11.
And that should lead us all directly to the present-day issue of Iran. Just like Al Qaeda, which, as many have observed, “hid in plain sight” from the view of the West, Iran’s drive to produce nuclear weapons has been anything but a secret.
When not denying the Holocaust or threatening to destroy Israel, Iran’s loopy leader, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has openly bragged about the possibility. The Tehran regime even held a bizarre public ceremony back in April replete with costumed dancers to commemorate its latest step toward processing uranium in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.
And Iran is not only working on a nuclear capability, it is also striving for the acquisition of missiles that will deliver such weapons not only to Israel (the Iranians’ presumed first target) but to Western capitals, too. As former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated, there is no comparison between the Iranian situation and that which confronted the West prior to the invasion of Iraq. Unlike then, “we’re not guessing” about what they’ve got, “we know.”
The prospect of a regime run by Islamist fundamentalist Shiites gaining such a weapon and their ability to use it is one that ought to scare every sensible person in the West.
Some experts tell us that we must learn to live with a nuclear Iran. They have a point, because unless the United States and its allies start acting as if this really matters, it’s only a matter of time before Tehran succeeds in its quest.
But the problem with the notion that this prospect can be lived with lies in the very difference between past nuclear threats and this one. A nuclear Soviet Union was certainly a dangerous foe, but as Netanyahu pointed out, the Soviets would never do anything that endangered their own survival. Thus, whenever disputes between the Soviet Union and the West went to the brink, Moscow was generally as interested as Washington in edging away from the precipice.
But the notion that we can be just as confident about deterring the mullahs of Tehran is highly dubious. Ahmadinejad and his religious mentors buy into an ideology that prizes celestial martyrdom, not terrestrial conquest.
In addition to hoping to generate the return of a “Twelfth Imam” – a Shiite messiah – some in Ahmadinejad’s circle have already made plain that even if Iran were to suffer a nuclear response from Israel after a strike on the Jewish state, they would still “win” since more of them would be left, and those who died would be happy martyrs.
While such “Dr. Strangelove” scenarios seem to be more science fiction than realpolitik to us, to the Islamist mindset the prospect of the hedonist rewards of martyrdom is not the stuff of satire. It is real, and the prospect of it coming to pass is no longer theoretical.
What can America do about it? There are no easy answers. A UN resolution on the issue (if indeed such a resolution can be passed) is a must, but anyone waiting for our allies to enact tough sanctions on Tehran and making them stick is kidding themselves.
Relying on Israel to take out Iranian nuclear facilities as it did in Iraq in 1981 is also a nonstarter.
So at some point, whether in the last years of the George W. Bush administration or in the term of its successor, an American president is going to have to face his people with the distasteful proposition of either letting the lunatics go nuclear or to take drastic action that might include military force.
Unless the Iranians have a very unlikely change of heart, the United States – whether led by Republican or a Democrat – will have to swallow hard and act to prevent an event that has the capability of making 9/11 look as insignificant in scale to us as the then-shocking 1915 sinking of the liner Lusitania by a German U-boat does now.
That president’s ability to face up to that challenge will depend on how ready the American public and its leaders have made themselves for the prospect.
If a “failure of imagination” was one of the prime causes of the lack of prevention of 9/11, as was ascertained by the federal commission appointed to probe the issue, then let there be no doubt that a similar inability to imagine the consequences of a nuclear Iran will be far more serious.
So rather than worrying about whether it was George W. Bush or Bill Clinton – along with their respective wise men and flunkies – who are more to blame for 9/11, it would behoove us all to think about the next catastrophe waiting down the road. Now is exactly the time to start imagining it.
About the Author: Jonathan S. Tobin is senior online editor of Commentary magazine and chief political blogger at www.commentarymagazine.com, where this first appeared. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
Is not Israel’s policy of “territory for peace” with Arab leaders criminally irresponsible?
Israel must develop it’s truthful message to be as clear & simple to comprehend as the Arab’s lies
2 basic aspects of Aristotelian thought remarkably like Jewish thought: “Involvement” & “Purpose”
It shakes our sense of justice when allegations against a famed role model are covered up or ignored
Feiglin: Only true liberty will allow us to genuinely connect to our Jewish identity.
The silver lining with early elections is the chance to change the current dysfunctional government.
The Holocaust Educational Trust Ireland informed the host he could not say “Israel or Jewish state”
It’s fascinating how sources attain the status “traditional,” or its equivalent level of kashrus.
The West needs to ensure Russia understands that aggression comes at a significant cost.
What benefit is a learning experience that leaves kids confused,disillusioned&harms self confidence?
Girlfriend and double cop-killer Ismaaiyl Brinsley apparently was influenced by Islamic extremism.
We see pictures of mosques, monuments for terrorists, illegal schools, and hundreds of apartments being built on Jewish land without repercussions. We are losing Jewish property, so it is up to us to protect it.
Thus, despite the increasingly serious problems for the mayor arising out of the current anti-police protests, Mr. de Blasio apparently will be cut no slack by those who seem to be aiming for a significant role in running the city from the streets and who will do whatever they can to prevent their momentum from ebbing.
Anti-Semitism has returned to the mainstream of European society and Israel has become its focus.
One of the key talking points by apologists for Hamas in the current conflict is that it isn’t fair that Israelis under fire have bomb shelters while Palestinians in Gaza don’t have any. Among other factors, the lack of shelters accounts in part for the differences in casualty figures between the two peoples. But somehow […]
How will all this end? Hamas seems to think it will be Netanyahu who will blink first.
Nothing short of a stroke that will decapitate the leadership of this group will convince the Arabs that Hamas has made a mistake.
Z STREET will have the ability to compel IRS officials to testify as to their practices and produce all records.
“Death of Klinghoffer” opera frames the issue as Israel’s existence being the real crime.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/clear-and-present-danger-2/2006/09/20/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: