In light of Iran’s ignoring of UN pleas to stop uranium enrichment, this article seems especially timely. The author surveys some of the current right-wing and left-wing drawing of analogies between Iran and previous world conflicts, and concludes both are misguided in some way. His conclusion:
What these commentators are picking up is not an exact parallel to any one event of the 1930s—hence their scattershot of historical analogies. Instead, what they are picking up is a sense of the overall direction of world events: we are clearly headed toward a much larger, bloodier conflict in the Middle East, but no one in the West wants to acknowledge it, prepare for it, or begin to fight it.
Unfortunately, it seems much of our country is either blind to the threat or too tired to take up the sword again, and the author argues the conflict with Iran is coming whether we want it or not:
It is, indeed, “five minutes to midnight”—not just for Israel, but for the West. The time is very short now before we will have to confront Iran. The only question is how long we let events spin out of our control, and how badly we let the enemy hit us before we begin fighting back.
We can’t avoid this war, because Iran won’t let us avoid it. That is the real analogy to the 1930s. Hitler came to power espousing the goal of German world domination, openly promising to conquer neighboring nations through military force and to persecute and murder Europe’s Jews. He predicted that the free nations of the world would be too weak—too morally weak—to stand up to him, and European and American leaders spent the 1930s reinforcing that impression. So Hitler kept advancing—the militarization of the Rhineland in 1936, the Spanish bombing campaign in 1937, the annexation of Austria and the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1938, the invasion of Poland in 1939—until the West finally, belated decided there was no alternative but war.
That is what is playing out today. Iran’s theocracy has chosen, as the nation’s new president, a religious fanatic who believes in the impending, apocalyptic triumph of Islam over the infidels. He openly proclaims his desire to create an Iranian-led Axis that will unite the Middle East in the battle against America, and he proclaims his desire to “wipe Israel off the map,” telling an audience of Muslim leaders that “the main solution” to the conflict in Lebanon is “the elimination of the Zionist regime.” (Perhaps this would be better translated as Ahmadinejad’s “final solution” to the problem of Israel.)
We may still have some time before Iran starts it’s own Armageddon. The Department of Defense predicts Iran can have a nuclear weapon in as little as five years. I hope they are not relying on the same intelligence organs that failed so spectacularly on 9/11 and in Iraq. To wait 5 years with the expectation that diplomacy will eventually get Ahmadinejad to contritely shut down his nuke program is sheer foolishness. It’s like waiting for a madman, who believes he is the harbinger of the messiah and calls for the annihilation of an entire race, to arm up with the most destructive weapon man has ever devised. Unfortunately, that is not an analogy; it’s reality. It’s also a reality many want to allow to continue.
The author of the article calls for Iran to be struck “now.” I’m not convinced this is the best course presently, but it seems we should attack sooner rather than later. Diplomatic efforts are in full swing now, and they should be allowed to continue. However, we need a definite deadline when we must acknowledge diplomatic efforts have failed and are no longer a realistic recourse for any party interested in limiting nuclear proliferation and the prevention what could be the largest conflict ever in the Middle East. I’m obviously not informed enough to know when that deadline should be, but I would hope it’s the near future rather than 5 years from now.