The Sunni Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states and other nations in the region, are a majority of the Arab people. Because of a 1,300-year-old split between Sunnis and Shia, the Sunnis are just as fearful of Iran, a Shia country, getting a nuclear bomb, as are Israel and the United States.
The Israeli position is well known. For Israel, already singled out by Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for extinction, the Iranian nuclear threat is an immediate danger. But the rest of the world knows that Iran has long-range missiles and is working on increasing their range. Iran's most recently tested missile has a range that includes parts of Europe.
The United States under President Obama has many times said that no option on our part, including a military action, is off the table. So far, our efforts have focused on negotiating with the Iranians. When they spurned us, we turned to sanctions. We recently were successful in convincing the United Nations to pass more severe sanctions against Iran, but the U.N. will never go for the jugular which would include prohibiting gasoline from being exported to Iran, it having insufficient refineries to supply its needs. Russia and China have made it clear they see Iran as a supplier of their growing oil and other needs and will never agree to the kinds of sanctions that could cause Iran’s total capitulation. Apparently, they believe they have no cause to fear Iran’s missile wrath being launched against them, and they are content to allow the U.S. to expend its efforts and spin its wheels trying to rally international support for further sanctions against the Iranian regime. China follows a similar policy with nuclear North Korea, which they allow to exist because it's a thorn in the side of the U.S., Japan, and the West.
Nevertheless, importuned by our allies Israel, Saudi Arabia et. al., and perhaps beginning to feel even greater frustration with Iran, President Obama is thought by many observers to be reaching the point where the military option is beginning to look more attractive.
We know that once Iran actually achieves the nuclear bomb, a military option on our part becomes less viable. Surely, that is why we have accepted without retaliation so many punches and insults from North Korea, even the recent destruction of a warship of our ally, South Korea, by a Chinese-made torpedo fired by a North Korean submarine. Shockingly, the U.N. Security Council resolution on that clear act of war by North Korea did not even mention that North Korea was responsible for the destruction of the ship and deaths of 46 South Korean sailors. That cowardly resolution was agreed to by the U.S. at the insistence of China, North Korea’s protector and neighbor fearful of an exodus of North Koreans across its border.
So, we permit South Korea and Japan to live in fear of further military aggression by North Korea against them while North Korea and its apparent mad man president, Kim Jong-il, remains convinced that they need not worry about retaliation from the U.N. or the U.S. North Korea, after all, has the nuclear bomb and can use it, perhaps against Japan and certainly against South Korea.
Now comes an editorial in The New York Times on August 7th which unmercifully castigates former President George W. Bush for standing up to Iran. In 2004, I crossed party lines and supported President Bush because I said that, while I did not agree with him on a single domestic issue, I appreciated his willingness to stand up to Islamic terror which the Democratic Party was not so willing to do. In my view, Islamic terror trumped all other issues because it involved the very existence of the United States and the Western world. I have no regrets.
The Times editorial denounces former President Bush, stating, “At first glance, President Obama’s policy on Iran and its illicit nuclear program is not all that different from President George W. Bush’s. They both committed themselves, on paper, to sanctions and engagement. Mr. Bush, however, was never really that serious about the carrots, and he spent so much time alienating America’s friends that he was never able to win broad support for the sticks: credible international sanctions.”
Then, the editorial praises Mr. Obama, but only to a limited extent, stating, “Mr. Obama has done considerably better on the sanctions front — at the United Nations and from the European Union, Canada and Australia. But the other piece of a credible strategy — serious engagement — seemed to be getting lost. So it was encouraging that he made the effort this week to reassert his commitment to talks with Tehran. Meeting with journalists from The Times and other publications on Wednesday, he said his pledge to change the United States-Iran relationship after 30 years of animosity ‘continues to be entirely sincere.’”
The Times asserts that “a package of inducements first proposed in 2006 – diplomatic ties, trade, nuclear energy technology – needs to be on the table.” The so-called carrots.
Shall we go back to the days of Munich, 1938, when Neville Chamberlain was dealing with “Herr Hitler.” All Hitler seemed to want at that time in exchange for “peace in our time,” was the Czech Sudetenland, and he got it. Without asking, he took the balance of Czechoslovakia and then went on to Poland and brought about World War II.
I believe Ahmadinejad treats his own people, particularly dissenters, no differently than Hitler treated German dissenters, exclusive of the Jews. No matter what he agrees to, does anyone think Ahmadinejad will give up his goals of getting the nuclear bomb and exterminating Israel and its Jewish population? Hitler wasn’t satisfied with carrots. They just whetted his appetite. Ahmadinejad won’t be satisfied until Israel is destroyed.
Senator John McCain said it best – “I still say there's only one thing worse than military action against Iran, and that is a nuclear-armed Iran." President Obama hopefully will reach the same conclusion.
The Honorable Edward Irving Koch served New York City as its 105th Mayor from 1978 to 1989. His e-mail address is: email@example.com