Con: U.S. would be praised and honored worldwide
In 1981, Israel did the civilized world a favor and destroyed the emerging Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak.
At the time, Israeli was condemned for the raid. But after the liberation of Kuwait from the clutches of Iraq in 1991, U.N. inspectors discovered a nuclear program that was one to two years away from being operational, far more advanced than any previous intelligence estimates.
Thus, it was confirmed that the raid by the Israeli government of Menachem Begin a decade earlier had saved the world from a Saddam Hussein armed with nuclear weapons. Many nations quietly—if not publicly—gave thanks for the Israeli raid.
A paper published by the Institute for National Strategic Studies in 1995 on “radical regimes” correctly identified the dilemma facing Israeli then as well as the one facing the world today as Iran gears up its own nuclear program: When is pre-emption justified?
From the beginning of the Bush administration, the United States has adopted a series of new policies that have sought to avoid having to commit to the use of pre-emptive military force on nuclear facilities such as those in Iran.
America has put into place a growing global and integrated missile defense that will reach 1,400 interceptors by 2014. Of the last 39 hit-to-kill tests, 31 have been successful.
We also concluded a nuclear arms agreement with Russia that will reduce U.S. nuclear forces to the levels of the Eisenhower administration. Funds implementing the Nunn-Lugar program to secure Russian nuclear material were increased to $2 billion.
And sanctions and divestment are working to prevent Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons from abroad. A joint U.S. and European consortium sought to leverage these actions and seek a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear program.
We have also brought 90 nations into the Proliferation Security Initiative, which had its genesis in the successful interdiction of a seaborne vessel seeking to deliver 13,000 centrifuges to Libya.
The subsequent discovery of a very advanced Libyan nuclear program stunned not only the United States but also the International Atomic Energy Administration, which is charged with monitoring nuclear energy programs of members of the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty. But as its former director stated in 1992, the ability of the IAEA to detect illicit nuclear weapons programs was only as good as the agency’s knowledge of clandestine facilities that by their very nature are not disclosed by rogue states.
Thus, as President Bush has noted, we have a choice other than living with a nuclear-armed Iran or being forced to use military strikes to eliminate or degrade as much of Iran’s nuclear facilities as possible.
Unfortunately in the real world, diplomacy and sanctions, even when combined, are not always successful.
That stark possibility is why the United States must have as part of its containment policy a contingency that strikes and destroys the Iranian nuclear weapons facilities.
Under both international law and Article 51 of the U.N. charter such action would be defensible under international law.
So does Iran pose a credible nuclear threat? The former Iraqi president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, said that a couple of nuclear weapons launched at Israel would “kill all the Jews” but that a few nuclear weapons landing in Iran in retaliation would not “destroy the revolution.”
Jed Babbin’s recent book, “In the Words of Our Enemies,” makes clear the genocidal views of the leaders of Iran.
Prior to World War II, a young German patriot, Helmuth von Moltke, traveled to England to warn of Hitler’s rise to power. Most dismissed his warnings, arguing that the Nazis were “not serious.” When asked why he was worried, Moltke responded: “I have read ‘Mein Kampf.”‘
That stark lesson remains: diplomacy divorced from power leaves power without direction and diplomacy deprived of incentives. Should the United States have to act to avoid a second Holocaust, it will be praised and honored.
Peter Huessy is president of GeoStrategic Analysis, a Maryland defense consulting firm, and a consultant on defense to the National Defense University Foundation. Readers may write to him at 7526 Coddle Harbor Lane, Potomac, Md. 20854.