Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A former Bush adviser on 9/11, Iraq and the lessons of five tumultuous years - for the president and the public.

Michael Gerson (seen holding the pad) writes in the upcoming issue of Newsweek:
As this violent global conflict proceeds, and its length and costs become more obvious, Americans should keep a few things in mind.
First, the nation may be tired, but history doesn't care. It is not fair that the challenge of Iran is rising with Iraq, bloody and unresolved. But, as President Kennedy used to say, "Life is not fair."

Behind all the chaos and death in Lebanon and northern Israel, Iran is the main cause of worry in the West Wing—the crisis with the highest stakes. Its government shows every sign of grand regional ambitions, pulling together an anti-American alliance composed of Syria, terrorist groups like Hizbullah and Hamas, and proxies in Iraq and Afghanistan. And despite other disagreements, all the factions in Iran—conservative, ultraconservative and "let's usher in the apocalypse" fanatics—seem united in a nuclear nationalism.

Some commentators say that America is too exhausted to confront this threat. But presidential decisions on national security are not primarily made by the divination of public sentiments; they are made by the determination of national interests. And the low blood-sugar level of pundits counts not at all. Here the choice is not easy, but it is simple: can America (and other nations) accept a nuclear Iran?...

A nuclear Iran would…give terrorist groups something they have previously lacked and desperately want: a great-power sponsor. Over time, this is the surest way to put catastrophic technology into the hands of a murderous few. All options have dangers and drawbacks. But inaction might bring the harshest verdict of history: they knew much, and they did nothing….

There are still many steps of diplomacy, engagement and sanctions between today and a decision about military conflict with Iran—and there may yet be a peaceful solution. But in this diplomatic dance, America should not mirror the infinite patience of Europe. There must be someone in the world capable of drawing a line—someone who says, "This much and no further." At some point, those who decide on aggression must pay a price, or aggression will be universal. If American "cowboy diplomacy" did not exist, it would be necessary to invent it.
CNN - Nuclear IranMore from the Daily Telegraph:
Abandoned Hizbollah positions in Lebanon yesterday revealed conclusive evidence that Syria—and almost certainly Iran—provided the anti-tank missiles that have blunted the power of Israel's once invincible armor.
After one of the fiercest confrontations of the war, Israeli forces took the small town of Ghandouriyeh, east of the southern city of Tyre, on Sunday evening, hours before a ceasefire brokered by the United Nations took effect. At least 24 Israeli soldiers were killed in the advance on the strategic hilltop town as Hizbollah fighters were pushed back to its outskirts, abandoning many weapons.

The discovery helped to explain the slow progress made by Israeli ground forces in nearly five weeks of a war which Hizbollah last night claimed as "a historic victory."… Outside one of the town's two mosques a van was found filled with green casings about 6ft long. The serial numbers identified them as AT-5 Spandrel anti-tank missiles. The wire-guided weapon was developed in Russia but Iran began making a copy in 2000.

Beyond no-man's land, in the east of the village, was evidence of Syrian-supplied hardware. In a garden next to a junction used as an outpost by Hizbollah lay eight Kornet anti-tank rockets, described by Brig Mickey Edelstein, the commander of the Nahal troops who took Ghandouriyeh, as "some of the best in the world".

Written underneath a contract number on each casing were the words: "Customer: Ministry of Defence of Syria. Supplier: KBP, Tula, Russia." Brig. Edelstein said: "If they tell you that Syria knew nothing about this, just look. This is the evidence. Proof, not just talk." The discovery of the origin of the weapons proved to the Israelis that their enemy was not a ragged and lightly armed militia but a semi-professional army equipped by Syria and Iran to take on Israel….

Last night, President George W. Bush blamed Iran and Syria for fomenting the conflict between Israel and Hizbollah. "We can only imagine how much more dangerous this conflict would be if Iran had the nuclear weapon it seeks," he said.
Many questions, few answers.

Hat tip TIA Daily.

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