After watching Tom Brady pull a rabbit out of his helmet last night, I took some time to ponder the new intelligence report that says the Iranian mullahcracy ended its nuclear weapons program in late 2003. A thought occurred, one that I believe shifts the entire paradigm of the WBK War (especially the Iraq theatre).
Wouldn’t you know it; Victor Davis Hanson beat me to it (National Review Online – The Corner):
The latest news from Iran about the supposed abandonment in 2003 of the effort to produce a Bomb — if even remotely accurate — presents somewhat of a dilemma for liberal Democrats.
Are they now to suggest that Republicans have been warmongering over a nonexistent threat for partisan purposes? But to advance that belief is also to concede that, Iran, like Libya, likely came to a conjecture around (say early spring 2003?) that it was not wise for regimes to conceal WMD programs, given the unpredictable, but lethal American military reaction.
After all, what critic would wish now to grant that one result of the 2003 war . . .
Lest anyone forget (and as Hanson notes), Libyan strongman Muammar Qadhafi handed over his WMD program in response to the American liberation of Iraq. Assuming the National Intelligence Estimate got this right, is it too hard to believe the mullahs in Tehran – faced with over 100,000 American troops just next door, took a similar course?
Meanwhile, it should be noted that the Khomeinists – even if they really did end their nuclear weapons program – have not stopped enriching uranium.
So why did they halt the weapons program, and why did they repeatedly refuse to cooperate fully with the United Nations’ watchdog on this – the International Atomic Energy Agency?
I think the answer can, again, be found next door in Iraq. I’m guessing the Iranian regime was fairly confident that it could thwart any real UN punishment thanks to its friends on the Security Council (Communist China and Russia), when President Bush decided to liberate Iraq without the UN imprimatur, it likely forced some serious rethinking in Tehran. After all, if Moscow, Beijing, and Paris couldn’t save Saddam Hussein, what chance would the mullahcracy, which was far more alienated from its neighbors to begin with, have?
So, if the mullahs really did put their nuclear weapons program on hold, this is the most likely reason.
As for continuing to play games with the IAEA, don’t forget that while American troops are still there, so is the possibility (which increases exponentially if the Democrats win next year’s elections) that they will leave defeated and hand Iraq over to the mullahs. Such an event would be a dramatic setback for American morale and power, so much that so that Iran could almost certainly resume its nuclear weapons program without any worries about an American military response.
You think that’s far-fetched? Don’t forget to tyrannical adventurism that followed the fall of South Vietnam. Convinced that America was on the ropes, the Soviet Union moved aggressively on any front it could find: Southeast Asia (Laos and Cambodia), Africa (Angola and Ethiopia), Central America (Nicaragua and Grenada), and of course, Central Asia (Afghanistan).
Iran would certainly take an American defeat in Iraq as a green-light to resume its nuclear-arms ambitions. By contrast, if America left Iraq with a functioning, representative, and anti-Khomeinist government, the mullahs would be faced with a pro-American regime next door with its eyes almost permanently fixed on then to make sure they weren’t trying anything funny. Moreover, any military action taken against Iran in this scenario would likely include an Iraqi government far more popular within Iraq and outside it than Saddam ever was.
In other words, this new report (if accurate) has dramatically raised the stakes in Iraq. It has shown us that the resolve of President Bush (and the 62-million-plus who voted for him) has not only prevented the creation of an al-Qaeda haven in the heart of the Middle East; it has also thwarted the regional arms race that so many feared – and it will take the resolve of a new President to stay the course until the Iraqi people elect an anti-Khomeinist government in December 2009.
This report may have undermined the case for military action against the mulllahcracy, but it dramatically makes more imperative the need to finishing the liberation of Iraq – and to elect a President who is willing to do that.