Thursday, September 27, 2007

Bush and Iran: Do Whatever It Takes

Today's lead editorial at the Wall Street Journal takes the Bush administration to task for not living up to its public statements on Iran. Here's the introduction:

The traveling Mahmoud Ahmadinejad circus made for great political theater this week, but the comedy shouldn't detract from its brazen underlying message: The Iranian President believes that the world lacks the will to stop Iran from pursuing its nuclear program, and that the U.S. also can't stop his country from killing GIs in Iraq. The question is what President Bush intends to do about this in his remaining 16 months in office.

Over the last five years, Mr. Bush has issued multiple and sundry warnings to Iran. In early 2002, he cautioned Iran that "if they in any way, shape or form try to destabilize the [Afghan] government, the coalition will deal with them, in diplomatic ways initially." In mid-2003, following revelations about the extent of Iran's secret nuclear programs, he insisted the U.S. "will not tolerate the construction of a nuclear weapon."

In January of this year, as evidence mounted that Iran was supplying sophisticated, armor-penetrating munitions to Shiite militias in Iraq, Mr. Bush was tougher still: "We will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq."

In February, he added that "I can speak with certainty that the Qods Force, a part of the Iranian government, has provided these sophisticated IEDs that have harmed our troops." And as recently as this month's TV speech on Iraq, the President alerted Americans to the "destructive ambitions of Iran" and warned the mullahs that their efforts to "undermine [Iraq's] government must stop."

Read the whole thing. The editors go on to contrast the administration's "rhetorical record" in talking tough on Iran with its public actions, which so far have not walked the walk. One of the most troubling issues is Iran's killing of American soldiers in Iraq:

Administration officials tell us that Iranian-backed militias using Iranian-supplied arms now account for 70% of U.S. casualties in Iraq.

And here's the conclusion:

The Bush Presidency is running out of time to act if it wants to stop Iran from gaining a bomb. With GIs fighting and dying in Iraq, Mr. Bush also owes it to them not to allow enemy sanctuaries or weapons pipelines from Iran. If the President believes half of what he and his Administration have said about Iran's behavior, he has an obligation to do whatever it takes to stop it.

As readers here will recall, I've noted on many occasions the futility of U.N. sanctions in deterring Iran from achieving nuclear weapons capability. Ahmadinejad announced Tuesday that Iran's nuclear weapons programs was a "closed issue" and that Tehran would ignore U.N. Security Council demands for the termination of its nuclear development efforts.

The administration should delay no longer. We indeed must to do whatever it takes to avoid an international crisis, even if this entails preventive strikes against Iran's nuclear development facilities.

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