That belligerents grow bolder with the acquiescence of those who can stop them is an axiom demonstrated innumerable times in history. Indeed, the renowned 18th century English statesman, Edmund Burke, observed that “All that’s necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
After Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s revealing performance at Columbia University and the United Nations, evidence of a yet unarticulated plan for dealing with him appears to be emerging. We begin with an editorial by Michael Goodwin in the New York Daily News, which is applause for the startling but welcome speech by French president Nicolas Sarkozy. The highlight below, which has obvious Churchillian echoes, is a stunning rebuke to appeasers, here and abroad:
There will be no peace in the world if the international community falters in the face of nuclear arms proliferation. Weakness and renunciation do not lead to peace. They lead to war.
After the end of the Chirac legacy, which, for a democratic state, featured a rare combination of corruption and shocking embrace of dictators, foreign affairs analysts had no reason to believe a change in leaders would herald this kind of diametrical change in policy. For those who understand the threat Iran constitutes, Sarkozy’s willingness to speak boldly is at once refreshing and reassuring.
France’s tough stand against Iran stands in contrast to that of the U.S. Senate, as described by Martin Kady II in Politico. Indeed, if one reads the speeches by Members of Parliament in pre-WWII Great Britain the same spineless sentiments can be found.
As history demonstrates, there are many ways to lose a war and many ways to expose your military to unwarranted dangers. The former involves fundamentally misreading the enemy and our mainstream media, academics, and entertainers are excelling at downplaying the threat of radical Islam, insisting it’s been spun out of thin air by the neo-cons. The best example for the latter is WWII when the world slept as Hitler followed through with his threat issued seven years before the war began.
The fear that many on the left have expressed–i.e., that such actions as a Senate resolution condemning a terrorist organization in Iran will lead to war–is precisely why wars are lost. You are effectively telegraphing to the enemy your reticence for confrontation, your inhibition fight, your fear of blood.
Those who criticize President Bush for missing an opportunity to blast Iran at the United Nations might consider that he was probably taking the rope-a-dope approach: By letting France take the lead, Merkel’s Germany is far more likely to fall into line with a coalition to cement Draconian sanctions against Iran.
The history of sanctions demonstrates that they’re only effective when the target country has record of candor and transparency, and even then they are often only marginally effective. Because of its pattern of duplicity and lies, sanctions for the case of Iran would be a transitional way-station, ultimately forcing the military option.
It’s also important to note that although weapons of mass destruction weren’t found in Iraq, the U.S. did topple a despotic barbarian who tortured and murdered hundreds of thousands and in doing provided its citizens a chance for freedom. Many Democrats, who are historical champions of freedom, have somehow construed that as an undesireable development in the Middle East. It’s against that backdrop that the same voices are expressing fear and loathing at the prospect of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
People who register shock that military action against Iran might be in the offing are living in an alternate universe, one without aggression and evil. In the real world, whether it’s in business or war, there are often few options, and in many instances the only thing worse than taking the painful option is doing nothing.
That, alas, is our fate with Iran.
Mella is editor of ClearCommentary.com