Barring unforeseen and unlikely circumstances—the bite of economic sanctions, another popular revolt, a change of heart on the part of the mullahs, a weakening of Western and especially Israeli resolve—it is at least imaginable that Iran will be attacked before the American election in November of this year. The on again, off again talks between the Iranian leadership and the P5 + 1 nations, aimed at arriving at a modus vivendi, are clearly nothing more than a reciprocal stalling tactic. The West wishes to defer military intervention, China and Russia wish to prevent it, while Iran continues to enrich uranium, add centrifuges to its nuclear facilities, and steadily progresses toward the acquisition of a thermonuclear weapon.
Further, given its declared purpose to incinerate the Jewish state, its possession of advanced delivery systems, and the belief of its leaders in the radical, Twelver version of Shi’a theology which envisions the return of the “Hidden Imam” in a millenarian conflagration, the bruited American policy of “containment” is doomed to failure. In a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on March 3, 2012, President Obama rejected the principle of containment of a nuclear-armed Iran, but did not rule out containment of a nuclear-capable Iran—a sly distinction that does not inspire confidence. Who is to judge precisely when capability morphs into capacity?
Joseph Puder, who heads the Philadelphia-based Interfaith Taskforce, puts little credence in Obama’s putative resolution. In an article titled “Obama, Like Carter, Will Not Act Against Iran,” Puder writes: “Obama much like Jimmy Carter is proving to the Iranians and to the Islamic world in general, that America is on the decline, and lacks the will to fight for its global security interests. The Obama administration has already invoked containment of a nuclear Iran as a default option for the U.S.” The fact is that Iran cannot be “contained.” A nuclear Iran is a game-changer, both politically and militarily, able to exert its will at the world’s expense by threatening nuclear blackmail. At the very least, it will change the face of the Middle East for the worst, as if things were not already bad enough.
The odds are, then, despite the current round of talks and the evident desire to avoid or delay military action, that Iran will not be allowed to “go nuclear” and will be attacked before the year is out. The only question that remains open is: by whom? Certainly not the feckless and appeasing European nations. As everybody knows, the only two candidates adequate to the task are the U.S. and Israel.
With respect to the U.S., the signals are mixed. On the one hand, we are witnessing the gradual buildup of American naval forces in the Persian Gulf; on the other, the obvious reluctance of the president to confront an Iranian enemy with whom he has whimsically committed to unconditional dialogue. As for Israel, which is in the immediate line of fire, there is little maneuvering room. It cannot afford to tolerate a nuclear Iran sworn to its destruction and only nine ballistic minutes away.
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