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August 28, 2012 5:04 pm

President Obama Can Stop Iran

avatar by Alan Dershowitz

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President Obama speaking at the Nuclear Security Simmit, Washington 2010. Photo: wiki commons.

It is now become clear that neither diplomacy nor sanctions will halt the Iranian march toward nuclear weapons.  Iran is today stronger diplomatically than it has been in years, as evidenced by the meaning of the nonaligned nations in Tehran.  Iran is neither isolated nor alone in a world in which nonaligned nations form a majority at the United Nations.

The sanctions, while hurting the Iranian economy and making life more difficult for the average Iranian, are having zero impact on the Iranian nuclear program, which according to objective intelligence reports, is gathering steam and moving even more quickly toward its ultimate goal of a nuclear weapon that will be a game changer.  An Iranian nuclear weapon will end any dream of non proliferation.  It will protect Iran’s surrogate terrorists, such as Hezbollah, under a formidable nuclear umbrella.  And it will make an eventual nuclear war more likely.  That is why President Obama rightfully took the containment option off the table and put the preventive military option squarely on it.

Although I support President Obama’s policy with regard to the Iranian nuclear threat, I think he must take one further step if the combination of diplomacy and sanctions are ever to work.  That step is to communicate to Iran—unequivocally and without any room for misunderstanding—that the Obama Administration will never allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons.

President Obama has already made this point, but not in a way that the Iranians understand and believe.  Language matters, and President Obama must now use language that commits him, in the eyes of the Iranians, to keep his promise that he will, if necessary, use military force to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

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Only if the Iranians truly believe that they will never be allowed to develop nuclear weapons will the combination of diplomacy and sanctions work.  The message has to be this:  Look, sanctions hurt.  Diplomatic isolation from first world powers is costly.  So why incur this pain and cost if you know you will never be able to achieve your goal?

Not only must the Iranians believe that the United States will, as a last resort, use its overwhelming air power to destroy Iran’s nuclear weapons program, but the Israeli leadership must also believe that the Iranians believe it.  Only then will Israel forbear from taking preventive self defense actions on its own.

If the Iranians and the Israelis were to believe believe President Obama’s assurances that, as he put it, “I don’t bluff,” there would be a real possibility that Iran would abandon its nuclear weapons program.  But even if the mullahs were foolishly to challenge the United States, and continue with the weapons program, the Israelis would have an enhanced degree of confidence that Obama would keep his word and stop Iran before it reached its deadly goal.

Right now, despite President Obama’s best efforts, neither the Iranians nor the Israelis are sufficiently confident that he would carry out his threat.  They know that there are those within the administration and among President Obama’s supporters who will discourage him from making an unequivocal statement or carrying out a threat, because they believe that sanctions and diplomacy alone will work, without the need for “saber rattling.”  There are also those who prefer a policy of containment to the threat of military action.  The Iranians are aware of this faction and are counting on them to prevail, if it comes down to a choice between allowing Iran to develop nuclear weapons and stopping them by military action.  President Obama must make it clear that he has rejected this view and that he will employ military action if that is the only option other than a nuclear Iran.

This is not a debate between peaceniks and warmongers.  Every Israeli and American that I know wants peace.  Everyone would love to see Iran stop developing nuclear weapons without a rocket being fired or a bomb being dropped.  The dispute is about tactics and strategy.  President Obama believes that the best way to avoid having to use the military option is to make Iran understand that he will in fact use it as a last alternative to Iran developing the bomb.  Those on the other side of this debate believe that making such an unequivocal threat would constitute saber rattling, and that such rattling actually decreases the chance for a peaceful resolution of this difficult issues.

President Obama is right and those who are opposed to his rattling some sabers are wrong.  So let President Obama look the mullahs in the eye and persuade them that they simply do not have the option of developing nuclear weapons.  The only two options they have are to stop or be stopped.  Only if they believe this, is there any realistic likelihood that they will stop.

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  • Jill Skriver

    The West refuses to read the Koran and the Hadiths that command Muslims to lie and deceive until they are strong enough to conquer and destroy. They also ignore Islamic scripture commanding spell out the destruction of Israel. I’ve listened to leading Muslims say one thing to the West and totally opposite to the East. This practice is understood between Muslim Nations. The nuclear program should have been shut down from the beginning,; instead it has forged ahead till it’s nearly complete. Nothing short of a physical attack will stop it now.

  • Sabra C

    It is very simple: You do not negotiate with madmen! The leaders of Iran believe that they are called to annihilate Israel, the USA, and all enemies. And they will not stop unless we stop them. If Obama doesn’t step up to the plate to defend Israel and the world, then Israel will be forced to “draw first blood” while the the mighty USA stood by and did nothing! FDR stood by and did nothing while our allies pleaded for help. Then …Pearl Harbor forced his hand. It was so easily preventable then. It is so easily preventable now. Once again: You do not negotiate with madmen!!

  • mattis kantor

    Alas, Mr. Dershowitz lives in Western culture. Iranins and their fellow travelers live in an entirely different culture.
    When Radical Islam says “Annihilate!”, it means kill, murder, and slay, every living human being of the people they are targeting.
    Unfortunately, in the West, this is somehow interpreted as a “bargaining position”. Iran knows that. Obama (and Israel) confirm it with their PC rhetoric. “Everything is still on the table.” Which table? The negotiating table.
    Mr. Dershowitz suggests making the US “bargaining position” clearer.
    That will not stop a nation and a movement, which is prepared to sacrifice a major percentage of their own population.
    The USA of late, hangs their head for the Hiroshma-Nagasaki bombs. That nation (USA) will now proudly and defiantly send their mass-destruction weapons on Iran?

    Nothing will convince the Iranians of that. Not even a devastation of their cities. They will lick the wounds of a lost battle, in the extended war.

    • Hue Manne

      Alas Mr Kantor, it seems by your premise, your belief, and your deepest conviction, that there can be no solution but the final one, i.e. to “Annihilate!” these “radical Islam[ic] … Iranians and their fellow treavellers” (sic.): for it seems the Iranian people are so sub-human in their barbarity that they know nothing of communication, dialogue, bargaining, negotiation, trade-offs, consequences, and so on, which Alan Dershowitz so ‘radically’ suggests in his article (NB ‘radical’ because of the rampant Iranophobic hysteria going around making it so mainstream).

      Alas Mr Kantor, it seems by your premise, your belief, and your deepest conviction, that dealing with your “Iranians and their fellow travellers” means to “kill, murder, and slay, every living” one of them!: To lift our, the USA’s, head high and away from the shame of “Hiroshima-Nagasaki bombs” and to do it all over again “proudly and defiantly” (sic.) with, perhaps, ‘Tehran-Qom-Fordow-Natanz-Parchin-Arak-Bushehr bombs’ of mass destruction! And then what about those remaining Iranian survivors that “will lick the wounds of a lost battle” (sic.) who need too to be dealt with, for as you say, still “nothing will convince the Iranians” (sic.)? – leaving us to round them up for a final blow, ridding this world of such malevolent pestilence.

      And tell me Mr Kantor, when we have rid ourselves of this Iranian ‘monster’ what of the monster we are left with, . . . the one ‘we’ have become? And upon whom will ‘we’ now unleash ourselves against?

      Alas Mr Kantor, you scare me.

      • mattis kantor

        Where do you see me having mentioned annihilate THEM? By implication they have led to that direction.
        Secondly, perhaps in your book of morals, to kill a monster is to become a monster. Black or white. No grays. Did the free world become monsters after bombing Dresden to the ground, and Hiroshima? Or did the Western world show their true colors by restoring those countries to peaceful prosperous nations for their citizens benefits. What makes you think that Iranian population remaining will be ravaged, but not aided in restoration?
        Which book are you reading? Or are you dreaming.
        This is a dilemma thrust upon us by Radical Islam.
        I do agree with you on one count, and stand corrected. If you “remove” Radical Islam, what Islam will you find remaining? Insurgent Iranians who will hamper every effort to restoration?

      • Ira Kayarem

        You have taken a hysterical reading of Kantor’s words, and twisted them obscenely.
        Now tell me you are not a Holocaust Denier.

        • Hue Manne

          Yes i have ‘twisted’ Mr Kantor’s words, but i would prefer to say juxtaposed them, words which i agree were hysterical to begin with, and in the end still delivered an obscene outcome – both in their original and juxtaposed form. So in a strange way, we are in agreement.

          Oh yeah, and about that cheap remark you threw in at the end, Ira: . . . my having taken offence at Mr Kantor’s words and tone was very much due to it being echoic of those perpetrators of The Holocaust. If i did not take the latter seriously then i couldn’t possibly have taken offence at Mr Kantor’s language. On this count between ‘cheapening’ the Holocaust and ‘taking it seriously’ we are not in agreement.

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