What follows from this way of looking at the last five years is that the military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq cannot be understood if they are regarded as self-contained wars in their own right. Instead we have to see them as fronts or theaters that have been opened up in the early stages of a protracted global struggle. The same thing is true of Iran. As the currently main center of the Islamofascist ideology against which we have been fighting since 9/11, and as (according to the State Department's latest annual report on the subject) the main sponsor of the terrorism that is Islamofascism's weapon of choice, Iran too is a front in World War IV. Moreover, its effort to build a nuclear arsenal makes it the potentially most dangerous one of all.
The Iranians, of course, never cease denying that they intend to build a nuclear arsenal, and yet in the same breath they openly tell us what they intend to do with it. Their first priority, as repeatedly and unequivocally announced by their president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is to "wipe Israel off the map"--a feat that could not be accomplished by conventional weapons alone.
It's the old bait and switch routine. As Podhoretz also mentions, Ahmadinejad is pulling a fast one, no different than Adolf Hitler did prior and during World War II. His entire plan was laid out in his book, Mein Kampf. All his territorial ambitions, hos politics, his 'final solution' were all there for everybody to read. But no one paid it any attention. The result was millions dead and a continent laid to waste. We should not ignore what Ahmadinejad has been saying about destroying Israel and a 'world without America' because he means everything he says. He wants to pull it off even if it means the destruction of Iran because it is not Iran he treasures, but a fascist cult of militant Islam.
But listen to what Bernard Lewis, the greatest authority of our time on the Islamic world, has to say in this context on the subject of deterrence:
MAD, mutual assured destruction, [was effective] right through the cold war. Both sides had nuclear weapons. Neither side used them, because both sides knew the other would retaliate in kind. This will not work with a religious fanatic [like Ahmadinejad]. For him, mutual assured destruction is not a deterrent, it is an inducement. We know already that [Iran's leaders] do not give a damn about killing their own people in great numbers. We have seen it again and again. In the final scenario, and this applies all the more strongly if they kill large numbers of their own people, they are doing them a favor. They are giving them a quick free pass to heaven and all its delights.
Nor are they inhibited by a love of country:
We do not worship Iran, we worship Allah. For patriotism is another name for paganism. I say let this land [Iran] burn. I say let this land go up in smoke, provided Islam emerges triumphant in the rest of the world.
These were the words of the Ayatollah Khomeini, who ruled Iran from 1979 to 1989, and there is no reason to suppose that his disciple Ahmadinejad feels any differently.
How do you reason with people with such a death wish? You don't. Instead, you grant them their wish, but on your terms, not theirs.
Some may say that it would be barbaric to do such a thing. So be it. Better Ahmadinejad, the mullahs, and their followers all dead rather than the rest of the Middle East.
To paraphrase one of my favorite philosophers, “They're dead and we're alive, just the way we wanted it.”