Peggy Noonan wonders:
Do you ever have the passing thought that the presidential election doesn’t matter as much as we think? Whoever wins will govern within more of less the same limits, both domestically and internationally. A New York liberal leaning toward Mr. McCain told me this week he has no fear that Mr. McCain may be a more militant figure than Mr. Obama. We already have two wars, “we’re out of army.” Even if Mr. McCain wanted a war, he said, he couldn’t start one.
I wonder if we follow the election so passionately because we’re afraid. We’re afraid a lot of our national problems are intractable, and the future too full of challenge.
We cannot tolerate feeling this way. So we make believe the election can change everything. And we follow it passionately to convince ourselves its outcome will be decisive and make everything better. We reassure ourselves with pictures of the cheering crowds at the rally. We even find some comfort in the latest story of the latest dirty trick. But deep inside we think: Ah, that won’t work either.
Some part of me thinks we are all making believe this is a life-changing election because we know it’s not a life-changing election. Ever have that thought? Me too. Then there’s a rally or a scandal or a gaffe, and it passes.
She may be right that both sides wonder whether their candidate is up to the job. But I can’t rest content with the thought that it doesn’t make much difference, that both will govern within the same constraints and do pretty much the same things.
Here’s one reason why. Caroline Glick argues that it’s time to act: Iran is very close to having nuclear weapons. Will President Bush do anything about it? Doubtful. Would President McCain? Possibly. Would President Obama? Don’t make me laugh.
Iran is just a heartbeat away from the A-bomb. Last Friday the Daily Telegraph reported Teheran has surreptitiously removed a sufficient amount of uranium from its nuclear production facility in Isfahan to produce six nuclear bombs. Given Iran’s already acknowledged uranium enrichment capabilities, the Telegraph’s report indicates that the Islamic Republic is now in the late stages of assembling nuclear bombs.
We’re doing things, of course, to try to prevent that, but none have any hope of succeeding. If Iran wants the bomb, as it evidently does, no amount of talk is going to stop it.
But again, none of these programs can do a thing against that uranium for six bombs that Iran removed from its plant in Isfahan. They can’t stop those centrifuges in Natanz and in covert facilities throughout Iran from buzzing along. They can’t destroy those Shihab-3 missiles. They can’t kill the scientists assembling the bombs.
IN LIGHT of Iran’s unrelenting and rapid progress toward the nuclear finish line, it is clear today that while positive in their own rights, none of the actions the West is taking will succeed in blocking its path to the atomic bomb.
Perhaps it will not matter who is President. If the United States will not act, will Israel?
Today, there is only one way to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Israel must bomb Iran’s nuclear installations. Such a strike will not end Iran’s nuclear program. It will not overthrow the regime. It will not cripple Iran’s economy. It will not end Iran’s active support for international terrorist groups.
All an Israeli air strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities will do is set its nuclear program back for a couple of years. Such a strike will buy Israel and the rest of the world time. And during that time, Iran will no doubt expand its diplomatic, terror and political offensives against Israel and the US. But if Israel and the US are wise, they can use the time as well.
If Israel and the US are wise, they will use the extra time to ratchet up international economic sanctions on Iran. They will use the time to conduct covert operations against nuclear and regime targets. They will use the time to increase international pressure on countries that do business with Iran and sell it arms. And they will use the time that an Israeli military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities will buy to support Iranian democracy movements and so weaken the regime and perhaps eventually topple it.
Even if Israel acts unilaterally, the United States will need to follow up with serious efforts over a number of years to prevent the same scenario from recurring. I have no confidence that President Obama would do so. I have more, though still wavering, confidence that President McCain would. President McCain moreover would support Israel’s action. President Obama probably would not.