Barry Rubin writes of the fall of Lebanon, the threat Iran poses to the United States, and Obama’s evident lack of preparation to meet it. (HT: Power Line) I appreciate his comparison of the fall of Lebanon, in which we and other Western powers have acquiesced, to the fall of Czechoslovakia. As Churchill said, “we have sustained a total and unmitigated defeat.”
Rubin puts his finger on a crucial issue:
- What possible issues can the United States find to compromise with Iran? Let’s say: give them Lebanon (oh, we already did that); ignore their sponsorship of terrorism; give them Iraq; give them Israel; withdraw U.S. forces from the region, accept their having nuclear arms. What?
- Why should the United States be able to reduce tensions through negotiations when Iran wants tensions? There is an important hint here: if the United States makes concessions it might buy off tensions. Since Iran and the others know about Obama’s all-carrots-no-sticks worldview, they will make him pay a lot to get the illusion of peace and quiet…
And at present, even more if Obama wins, the threat is of an Iran that’s aggressive precisely because it knows that it will not have to confront U.S. forces. Tehran knows that it can sponsor terrorism directly against U.S. forces in Iraq, and also against Israel and Lebanon, because that level of assault will not trigger American reaction.
Yet anyone who doesn’t want to get into war with Iran should be all the more eager to talk about sanctions, pressures, deterrence, building alliances and backing allies; in short, combating Iran indirectly to avoid having to confront it directly.
All the more so now, however, Syria won’t split away from Iran; Iran won’t give up on its nuclear program; Hamas won’t moderate; Hizballah won’t relent. Why should they when they not only believe their own ideologies but also think they are winning? In each case, too, they are banking on an Obama victory–whether accurately or otherwise– to bring them even more.
There are too many Chamberlains and not enough Churchills, perhaps none at all. Things are bad, very bad, for the West right now. The beginning of repairing those strategic fortunes is to recognize that fact.
I wish I believed that Rubin’s analogy is overblown. There is one important disanalogy: Shifting the Czech army and industrial might from the allied to the Nazi column shifted the balance of power in Europe dramatically. Before Czechoslovakia, France and Britain held a powerful advantage over Germany; afterward, it was just the reverse. Lebanon lacks that strategic importance. It doesn’t in itself represent a tipping point. The danger it poses is its encouragement of Syrian and Iranian aggression. In that respect, it is perhaps more closely analogous to the Anschluss.
But that should not prevent us from seeing a slide toward war that so far parallels that of the 1930s to a frightening degree. Allowing Iranian actions to go unchecked could lead to a massive war that would cost millions of lives. The lesson of the 1930s is that, the longer you wait in confronting aggression, the higher the cost of the confrontation. We have, in my view, already waited far too long.