This year, 2012, is fraught with danger. I write of Iran, which clearly has become our leading nemesis. Perhaps not since pre-Pearl Harbor has talk of a pending war, like the menacing sword of Democles, weighed so heavily upon our nation. It's a conflict that need not happen and that we should do everything to avoid.
The problem is that both the U. S. and Europeans have already pursued negotiations several times with little result, with a new round to take place soon. Just two months ago, the U. N. issued the findings of its International Atomic Energy Agency, with troves of evidence substantiating Iran's steady march towards a nuclear capacity far beyond its purported purpose of generating electricity and empowering medical reactors.
Several experts forecast Iran will have its bomb within the next three years, and that over the next several months, will have reached the irreversible point in its technological advances. In short, the window for a successful attack, knocking out Iran's capacity to produce a nuclear bomb, is rapidly closing. Even if such an attack were initiated, we would at best probably set back their program by maybe three years. It's simply not a viable option.
The consequences would be incalculable. Hamas and Hezbollah would attack Israel. It would unite much of the Muslim world, wreak havoc on our troops still in Afghanistan, and within hours, spike oil prices 50% higher, plunging the world into economic chaos.
Quite frankly, Iran holds all the aces in this dangerous political poker. We just may have to live with a nuclear Iran. We did so with the Soviet Union, then China and, presently, North Korea.
We have tried assassination of Iranian scientists, planted explosives inside facilities, conducted electronic sabotage, but to no avail. Thus far, sanctions have proven our best option and are clearly biting into the Iranian economy. Yet even here, we are countered by Russian and Chinese recalcitrance.
Meanwhile, there looms the possibility of Israel's launching a preemptive strike. We know Netanyahu and his cabinet have been engaged in secret discussion on a contingency plan. Ideally, they'd like the U. S. to initiate a strike, highly unlikely while Obama is president. As Romney put it, "Reelect Obama and Iran will have the bomb." Currently, Israel's relationship with the Obama administration is at an unprecedented low point.
If Israel were to attack, it would optimally be just before the November election, resulting in substantial pressure on the Obama administration to support its staunch ally, which understandably sees its very survival at stake. In a replay of August, 1914, when Germany was forced into supporting its treaty ally, Austro-Hungary, resulting in World War I, the U. S. could find itself drawn into a military imbroglio that would make Iraq and Afghanistan seem mere excursions by comparison
Again, the stakes are too high to play brinkmanship. Ratching up the rhetoric in a political year only increases the danger of igniting a spark kindling global catastrophe. The wisest approach should be one grounded in calm, reasoned diplomacy, with Iran treated as an equal at the conference table. Sanctions are one thing, but surely we can try some carrots, too.
And if Iran does get the bomb, don't assume it means lights out. We have lived with nuclear adversaries a very long time. We can do so yet again.