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What a perfect arrangement: The only country that every country has a right to condemn can be relied upon to do the world's dirty work. This is the underlying mindset as the West contemplates a nuclear Iran.
When push comes to shove, the Israeli air force will take care of the problem, so the world can go into spasms of righteous indignation while enjoying the fireworks.
There are, however, a number of flies in the ointment of this convenient scenario. Journalists and policy makers, like generals, tend to fight the last war, so everyone has in mind the 1981 Osirak operation, where Israel dealt a fatal blow to Saddam Hussein's dreams of mass destruction by destroying his nuclear reactor. But the Iranians are not idiots, and they have taken into account the possibility of an Israeli air strike in designing their program.
A new report by the US Army War College, with a chapter on Israel drafted by former IDF Brig.-Gen. Shlomo Brom, finds that Israel cannot launch a sustained air campaign that will reliably destroy a series of hardened, well-defended and dispersed targets. In order to avoid the airspace of intermediate countries, Israeli aircraft would have to fly more than 1,500 km - refueling over the Red Sea and Indian Ocean.
But let's say, by some miracle, it could be done. And let's even say, as Brom speculates, that Iran would not be able to tell Hizbullah to launch the thousands of missiles pointed at Israel's north because Israel would retaliate against Syria, possibly toppling that regime.
Still, the question remains, why is little Israel being left to fight the world's war? The answer is not just that life's unfair. The real answer is that the enlightened post-modern European refusal to lift a finger - let alone a gun - to defend itself is consigning us all to a dark age of terrorism and war.
THE IRONY here is that it is precisely those who claim to believe mot in a borderless world ruled by international law who are ushering in a new Hobbesian era. How is one to explain Europe's obsession with the United Nations on the one hand, and its emasculation of the principles on which that organization was founded?
If Europe, through the UN and in partnership with the US, simply followed the UN Charter, we would be living in a very different world today. That Charter (Ch. 1, Art. 1, Para. 1, first sentence) states the UN's purpose: "To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace..." (emphasis added).
Does this ring any bells? Is there a state that is a greater threat to international peace than Iran? How much terrorism does a state have to sponsor, how many member states does it have to threaten with destruction, and how far does it have to get in obtaining the ultimate means to carry out such threats before the collective obligations of free nations under the Charter are remembered?
The nations that wrap themselves most tightly in international law are actually those responsible for turning that law, and its aspirations for the world, into a dead letter. As in the case of Iraq, by refusing to join the US in effective non-military collective action against Iran, Europe is making military action or an Iranian victory inevitable.
IT IS in this context that I found it difficult to watch European ambassadors placing a wreath on the spot where a suicide bomber killed five Israelis, including 38-year-old Eliya Rozen, outside a mall in Netanya. On Tuesday, at his wife's funeral, Gadi Rozen spoke of their three childrens' questions when he told them their mother was dead. Roi, the five-year-old asked, "Who will be my mother?"
What wreath will these ambassadors lay if Israel gets hit by a nuclear weapon? Or if Israelis are killed in a war to destroy Iran's nuclear program? Or if 9/11s continue to multiply, including in Europe, because al-Qaida enjoys the tailwind that a nuclear Iran would bring?
Perhaps it is pointless to appeal to European sympathies for Israel when these same nations won't even defend themselves. Most bizarre, however, is that Europe, by refusing to impose draconian sanctions on Iran, is guaranteeing either a huge victory for the terror network or military action by the US or Israel. In other words, under the cloak of international law, Europe is bringing either the aggression of its enemies or unilateralist defensive actions of exactly the sort it claims to most want to prevent.
Those diplomats, no doubt, had the best of intentions. But with all due respect, spare us the wreaths. Join us and defend yourselves. We are not your hired hitmen; don't depend on us to save you. Take your beloved international law seriously and throw the book at Iran.
It may not be too late, with common will, to force Iran to back down without firing a shot. And if it is too late for peaceful means, that shot should be fired together, legally, in the name of international peace and security.
- Editorial Page Editor Saul Singer is author of the book, Confronting Jihad: Israel's Struggle & the World After 9/11
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