He was labeled a "hound," a "fool" and one whose "judgment is always at fault." Denigrated as "hopeless when in power," this wartime head of government was scorned as being arrogant, ignorant and just about everything else in between. His strategic judgment was called into question, his military approach was belittled and maligned, and his own generals even mocked him, accusing him of spouting "absurdities" and being oblivious to detail. Does any of this sound familiar, Mr. Bush? The subject of the vitriol described above was none other than the fearless lion of Britain, Sir Winston Churchill. That's right. The man now credited with saving Western civilization from the Nazi onslaught was the target of ruthless censure and disapproval. His critics were fierce and unrelenting, but that did not stop this great visionary from seeing beyond the headlines and standing up for what he knew to be right. The question now is: Will George W. Bush follow in this great man's footsteps? The threat facing the Western world is no less urgent or grave than it was in Churchill's day. Then the Nazi leader spoke openly of murdering the Jews, and of conquering the world. Now the modern-day Hitler of Persia vows to commit genocide and boasts that the West will soon falter and collapse. The only difference between the two is that while the Fuehrer could merely dream of obtaining an atomic arsenal, the tyrant of Teheran is dangerously close to getting one. And the only person standing in his way, the one whom God Himself has given the ability to stop him, is none other than the president of the United States. Without realizing it, we are standing at a defining moment not just for the Bush presidency, but for the future of the entire Jewish people and the Western world itself. Enormous pressure is being brought to bear on the president to embrace diplomacy as the means for resolving the various crises in the Middle East. In recent months, the president has come under harsh criticism for the conduct of the war in Iraq. The results of the midterm elections earlier this month gave control over both houses of Congress to the Democrats, who will surely push for a more conciliatory approach. And as The New York Times reported on Monday, the bipartisan Iraq Study Group headed by former US secretary of state James Baker will recommend that Washington engage rogue states such as Iran and Syria and open a dialogue with them. In other words, it is sounding more and more like 1940 all over again. WHEN WINSTON Churchill took office in May of that year, an emboldened Germany was on the march and the pressure to appease the Nazi dictator was at its peak. The British Foreign Secretary, Lord Halifax, was a firm believer in negotiations, and he wanted nothing more than to reach an understanding with Hitler, in the hope that such a deal would hold. But Churchill knew that the time for diplomacy had passed. He understood that the Nazis would honor an accord only for as long as it might serve their interests, and that they would not hesitate to break it in order to achieve their destructive, long-term goals. And so, virtually alone in his belief, Churchill pressed forward, convinced that only by confronting the Nazis could the danger to his country, and the world, be averted once and for all. At a time when others were busy closing their eyes to the mounting threat, Churchill bravely sounded the alarm and refused to back down, setting the stage not for appeasement, but for victory. It is this approach, and this approach alone, that should guide the US president in the weeks and months ahead. Diplomacy has failed, and sanctions will not deter Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from pursuing his aims. Military force is the only way to prevent the ayatollahs from joining the nuclear club, and time is running out if they are to be stopped. THE SO-CALLED experts and realists are dead wrong when they predict that military action against Iran would kindle a firestorm throughout the Middle East. Precisely the opposite is true. The reverberations of putting Iran in its place would be entirely positive, and would be felt throughout the region. Right now the radicals are emboldened because they sense that America is weak and in retreat. Hence, they feel free to make mischief and continue destabilizing the area. As a result, Syria did not hesitate to orchestrate the murder last week of the Lebanese industry minister, Pierre Gemayel, and Iran is not shying away from its ongoing pursuit of nuclear weapons. And all this talk of talking with the bad guys has only served to encourage them still further. What is needed now is decisive action, and fast, to slap them down and put the radicals back in their place. A massive American air assault on Iranian nuclear installations would do just the trick. It would not only set back Teheran's atomic ambitions for years to come, but also serve as a resounding display of US will and resolve. A strike on Iran would amount to a reversal of the Shi'ite surge that is now taking place throughout the region. It would take the wind out of the Iranian leader's apocalyptic sails, and it would have a noticeable impact on the sectarian violence now raging in Iraq, too. Syria, Hizbullah and others would take notice, and America's ostensible Arab allies - all of whom are Sunni - would certainly welcome a blow against the dangerous Iranian regime. Stopping Iran in its tracks is the great challenge of our day. For the sake of the entire Western world, and the future of the Jewish people, we can only hope and pray that President Bush will rise to the occasion and do what needs to be done. "Had Britain stopped fighting in May 1940, Hitler would have won his war," wrote historian John Lukacs in Five Days in London. "He was never closer to victory." The same now holds true of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who may be just months, or even weeks away from crossing the nuclear point of no return.It was Churchill himself who once said, "I never worry about action, only inaction." As a result, he led his nation and the civilized world to victory. Mr. President, may that now become your motto too.