“There’s no such thing as monsters,” Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen) tells his young daughter in the movie History of Violence. If only that were true. What a wonderful world it would be. But we realists know that it is not true and that monsters come in all shapes and sizes and that they can’t be reasoned with; only put down.
Another day, another ship taken. Skirmishing in the Strait of Hormuz. Iran behaving badly but, calculatingly, not so badly as to cause modern-day America or Britain to react militarily (disproportionately as they say). Extra sanctions maybe; expensive naval escorts. The monsters in this story, the mullahs, are not quaking in their boots.
And all the while the West is distracted by the inconvenience of Iranian piracy, the clock is ticking on the real threat. Soon enough the mullahs will get their nukes. Is there any doubt of that apart from among the starry-eyed? Only action of a disproportionate kind can stop them? Wishing and hoping and dodgy John Kerry deals just isn’t going to get it done.
There are two options. Either allow Iran to get the bomb and try to deal with the consequences: a more belligerent Iran and the potential proliferation of nuclear weapons across the region, bringing a greater risk of them falling into the hands of Islamic terrorists. Or, use aircraft and missiles to destroy Iran’s nuclear industry. All else is improbable (e.g., regime change); infeasible (e.g., blockades); or messing about (yet more warnings and trade sanctions).
Bill Clinton messed about with North Korea, predictably to no avail. It’s a judgment call but a nuclear-armed Iran very likely poses more risk of triggering nuclear conflagration than does North Korea. Churchill’s dictum comes to mind:
If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory is sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.
Of course, we can pretend that the worst can’t happen. And, yes, President Trump, if America and Israel (the only likely combatants on our side) bomb Iran’s nuclear sites many Iranians will be killed. Some bombs, even in this computerised age, may veer off course into residential areas. And it is likely that some Americans and Israelis will be killed in action or later by way of repercussions. That is too much to bear. Okay, that’s fine, but then we must totally understand that Iran will get its nukes.
And fittingly, to paraphrase the Persian poet, none of our diplomacy can then lure the past back to cancel half a bomb; nor all our tears wash away the incipient menace.
What menace? Assuming the mullahs will themselves resist triggering Armageddon, the likelihood increases that Saudi Arabia among other Gulf States and perhaps Egypt and other countries in the region will acquire nuclear weapons. And whether or not that happens, but more so if it does, the chances are multiplied of an Islamic terrorist organisation – Hezbollah, Hamas, ISIS or one of numerous others – acquiring a bomb. Even Dr Pangloss would find no light at the end of that tunnel.
Inaction is tantamount to action. British and French inaction allowed Hitler to thrive and take the world to the brink of a dark age. Inaction now and who knows the outcome? It might be unpleasant.
The emperor has no clothes. Those messing about with the mullahs, via hard talk and sanctions, are whistling in the wind. And each year Iran gets closer to having its bomb and the effective means of delivering it on target.
So, to put the choices in relief. Let the mullahs get the bomb and either buddy up to them or start a new cold war and hope it ends as well as the last. Or, destroy their ability to get the bomb. What not to do: pretend that they can be cajoled and pressurised into our way of thinking. They are uncompromising mullahs for Allah’s sake, quite unlike much of the growing breed of Western elite: spiritually-vacuous, politically-correct, globally-woke, gender-nuanced, enervated and enfeebled.