Where's Obama's 'Yes We Can' on Iran?

The key question on whether the US and Iran is yet to be answered.

avi dichter 298 88 aj (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
avi dichter 298 88 aj
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Acataclysmic concern has been dominating both the minds of world leaders and media airtime in recent months. Politicians and pundits have bombarded us with assessments, statements and catchphrases.
But through all the rhetoric, a key question is yet to be answered: Is the US truly committed to preventing Iran from reaching nuclear weapon capabilities? The answer is unfortunately unclear, for we hear contradictory tones from Washington. On some days, officials defiantly state “no option is off the table” or call for sanctions, using words like “tougher” and “crippling” to emphasize their intent. On other days, we hear the Obama administration make reference to “containment,” an alarming word that implies the US will not or cannot prevent Iran from its path to the bomb.
Through all this, one major element has been missing from President Barack Obama’s personal rhetoric: a clear declaration that the US is determined to keep Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. The lingering question is whether the absence of such points is due to poor communication, or perhaps to a lack of American vision in solving the Iranian time bomb.
AFTER THE UN approved another round of sanctions against Iran last week, the Obama administration cried victory. However, we once again heard no clear announcement that the US is determined to keep Iran from going nuclear.
While sanctions are certainly important, we have yet to see whether the latest round is an isolated victory with no clear end goal, or whether it fits into a larger American strategy of determination in stopping Iran.
If the latter is true, then why did Obama not accompany the resolution with a strong statement declaring his intention to prevent Iran from achieving nuclear capabilities? We are left to wonder whether the recent US-led UN sanctions package is a hollow promise without real expectations of achieving this goal. Could it simply have been a method to better prepare for some future commission tasked with investigating why the US and the rest of the world failed to stop Iran and why a strike back against Teheran following an Iranian attack was legitimate? Iran is at a nuclear crossroads and the world absolutely cannot adopt a policy of containment. With apocalyptic leaders who have voiced clear deadly and vicious intentions against the West, Iran must be stopped. An evil regime with violent intentions must never gain access to such devastating weapons.
A radical anti-democratic regime that builds itself up on a megalomaniac vision at the cost of other nations arises once in a generation. Such was the case with the German Nazi regime during the 1930s.
Undoubtedly, the leadership in place to confront Nazi Europe in the 1930s and 1940s was quite unique. The fact that the United States, the United Kingdom and the former Soviet Union came together to fight the threat can be seen as a coincidence, or as divine intervention.
The challenge facing Barack Obama and other leaders of free nations is reminiscent of the challenge facing the world in the 1930s, a challenge with which then UK prime minister Neville Chamberlain and others failed to handle.
We need a leadership of the same caliber today, one that is smart and daring, to bring back sanity to our world Hence, when leaders failed at this task in the past, we found ourselves in the midst of bloody wars that lasted for years and changed the face of history. These brought forth the development and use of new weapons of mass destruction.
The opportunity, and challenge, has now been stowed upon US President Barak Obama to be on guard, and during his “shift,” the “sane” world will have to decide on the destiny of the destructive nuclear weapon that a dangerous country that has the most lethal statements wants to acquire – Iran.
If Iran were to start producing a nuclear bomb, the result would notend with environmental contamination and the death of hundreds of marine and wildlife creatures and habitats, like the outcome, so far, of an unprecedented, disastrous oil spill. It would end with the death of hundreds of thousands of human beings, in addition to a disastrous radioactive contamination.
The cement on the Iranian “oil well” must be in place before drilling and prior to that we all hope to hear the president say the inevitable statement: Iran will not acquire nuclear weapons! The road from here is clear: The US can either stop Iran through preventive measures or it can wait until the regime has passed the nuclear threshold.
At that point, the only protection against potential mass catastrophe would be a policy of containment, a clearly unacceptable policy. The best defense is always a proactive one, not reactive, or as the famous Arabic proverb says, “Before he has you for dinner, have him for lunch”.
Fortunately, we know that the goal is achievable. Iran can still be stopped. It is not too late. It is time for Obama to step up and provide the strong leadership that is needed to stop Iran. The day has come for the leader of the free world to finally state unequivocally that he is determined and ready to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
The writer is a Kadima MK and a former head of the Shin Bet.