are few signs of alarm in our public discourse, whether among
politicians, the media, or the intelligentsia. There is much more
discussion of whether government anti-terrorism agents should
be able to look at the records of books borrowed from public libraries.
government itself is giving us the clearest evidence of what a
nuclear Iran would mean, with its fanatical hate-filled declarations
about wanting to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. But send
not to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.
year, before the American election, Osama bin Laden warned that
those places that voted for the re-election of the President would
become targets of terrorist retribution.
ignore him then. But neither we, nor our children, nor our children's
children will ever be able to ignore him again if he gets nuclear
weapons from a nuclear Iran.
live at his mercy -- of which he has none -- if he can wipe out
New York or Chicago if we do not knuckle under to his demands,
however outrageous those demands might be.
truly have passed the point of no return. What will future generations
think of us, that we drifted on past the warning signs, preoccupied
with library records and with giving foreign terrorists the same
legal rights as American citizens?
deter the nuclear power of the Soviet Union with our own nuclear
power. But you cannot deter suicidal terrorists. You can only
kill them or stop them from getting what they need to kill you.
We are killing
them in Iraq, though our media seem wholly uninterested in that
part of the story, just as they seem uninterested in the fact
that the fate of Western civilization may be at stake just across
the border in Iran.
they would like us to prevent Iran from going nuclear -- if it
can be done nicely by diplomacy, with the approval of the U.N.,
and in ways that do not offend "world opinion."
It is as
if we were on the Niagara River and wanted to go ashore before
it was too late, but did not want to turn on the motors for fear
of disturbing the neighbors with excessive noise.
But at that
point, the choice is between being serious or being suicidal.
where we are internationally today. Many years ago, there was
a book with the title "The Suicide of the West." It
may have been ahead of its time.
indecision, and wishful thinking of the West are its greatest
dangers because the West has the power to destroy any other danger.
But it does not have the will.
is because most of our Western allies have been sheltered from
the brutal realities of the international jungle for more than
half a century under the American nuclear umbrella.
from dangers for generations can indulge themselves in the illusion
that there are no dangers -- as much of Western Europe has. This
is part of the "world opinion" that makes us hesitant
to take any decisive action to prevent a nightmare scenario of
nuclear weapons in the hands of hate-filled fanatics.
Do not look
for Europe to support any decisive action against Iran. But look
for much of their intelligentsia, and much of our own intelligentsia
as well, to be alert for any opportunity to wax morally superior
if we do act.
be able to think of all sorts of nicer alternatives to taking
out Iran's nuclear development sites. They will be able to come
up with all sorts of abstract arguments and moral equivalence,
such as: Other countries have nuclear weapons. Why not Iran?
abstract questions is much easier than confronting concrete and
often brutal alternatives. The big question is whether we are
serious or suicidal.