The test from Iran

Today, once again, free nations are at a crossroads. Two alternative futures lie before us.

Iran Nuclear 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Iran Nuclear 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
On Sunday at the annual AIPAC conference, US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton said that America would use "all the tools" at its disposal to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. On the day before the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) met to discuss referring Iran to the UN Security Council, Bolton warned that "failure by the Security Council to act on this matter would be a highly detrimental abrogation of its duties under the UN Charter." He added, "the Security Council must take due note that failure to act in a timely manner and with seriousness of purpose will do lasting damage to the credibility of the Council." This language recalls two precedents, one recent, the other from some 70 years ago.
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Shortly after 9/11, George W. Bush decided that he would not let Saddam Hussein run roughshod over UN resolutions requiring his verifiable disarmament. Rather than letting the sanctions and inspections regime collapse, as Europe was wont, the US would up the ante, and seek an ultimatum in the Security Council to be enforced by "all necessary means." In his speech before the UN General Assembly on September 12, 2002, Bush stated, "All the world now faces a test, and the United Nations a difficult and defining moment. Are Security Council resolutions to be honored and enforced, or cast aside without consequence? Will the United Nations serve the purpose of its founding, or will it be irrelevant?" In the 1930s, Winston Churchill warned that the Nazi threat had to be confronted before it became stronger. In September, 1946, just after World War II, which Churchill termed "The Unnecessary War" because it could have been prevented by Western resolve, he explained: "The League of Nations did not fail because of its principles or conceptions. It failed because these principles were deserted by those states who had brought it into being. It failed because the governments of those days feared to face the facts, and act while time remained." Today, once again, free nations are at a crossroads. Two alternative futures lie before us. Either Iran will be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapon, or that threat will be removed - because the regime is gone or, like Libya, demonstrably gives up its nuclear and terror cards. The future that includes a nuclear Iran is a bleak one. Iran itself would be able to increase its support for terrorism with impunity. Arab nations would also seek nuclear weapons. The terror network, including al-Qaida, would be seen to be ascendant, and the countdown before nuclear weapons are employed in a terror attack will have begun. Terrorists, we must remember, do not depend on military strength but on overwhelming their enemies with a sense of despair and inevitability. On Sunday, in a video broadcast on Al-Jazeera, Osama bin Laden's deputy Ayman al-Zawiri lauded Hamas for rejecting negotiations with Israel and pursuing "the path of prophets and messengers, which is ... jihad, until the soil will be liberated and the Islamic states rise again." Nothing would be a greater encouragement to the Islamist jihad against Israel and the West than an Islamist regime with nuclear weapons. The mullahs are betting that Europe can be intimidated by a brash, defiant stance and will, in the end, accept its nuclear program as a fait accompli. But despite its oil revenue, Iran is vulnerable to diplomatic and economic isolation by the West. The Security Council, however, would need, to use Bolton's terms, to act in a more "timely" and "serious" manner than it ever has in the past; but it is never too late to revive the UN Charter's vision of collective self-defense against international aggression. If the international community does act to defend itself, the result could be a world that is freer, more prosperous and more secure than it was before 9/11. This was the world that was envisioned after the Soviet Union collapsed, ending the Cold War and launching a wave of democratization. It would be a shame if, having defeated Nazism and Communism, the West were to succumb to militant Islamism, not for lack of power to defeat it, but for lack of the will to do so.