The Biden administration’s “received wisdom” is that the United States does not want to see the war in the Mideast “widened.”
That is not wisdom. It is a short-term Band-Aid on a festering infection. Iran sees it as an invitation to continue attacking us and our allies through its wholly owned proxies: Hezbollah, Hamas, the Houthis and increasingly Iraq.
The only real winner in the fighting since Oct. 7 has been Iran. Without losing many soldiers or material resources, the mullahs have — directly and indirectly — inflicted considerable damage on America and our allies. And they are laughing all the way to the bank, as they profit from the regional instability and commercial-shipping hurdles they have deliberately caused.
Since the day the mullahs arranged to take over the American embassy and hold our citizens hostage in 1979, Iran has been in a state of war with us. It is neither a cold nor hot war, in those terms’ traditional sense. It is a simmering war that sometimes boils over and other times remains warm.
Iran has also been in a state of war with Israel, having sent its proxies to kill Israeli civilians and soldiers in many parts of the world. This qualifies as a hot war, especially since Iran has also directly attacked Israeli diplomats and citizens.
Both the United States and Israel have the right, as a matter of international law, to counterattack Iran militarily. The question is: Should they exercise that right?
There is a strong case that doing so would promote long-term peace in the region.
A legitimate strike against Iran could serve multiple purposes, depending on the operation’s nature and extent.
A full-blown attack could bring about regime change, which would be welcome to most Iranians and their neighbors.
A successful assault on Iran’s nuclear-weapons program would eliminate — at least for the near future — a major threat to the region and might encourage regime change from within.
A more limited but direct attack, coupled with the promise of repetition, would send a deterrent message against renewed terrorism by its proxies.
The current pinpricks are sending the opposite message.
None of these options is without considerable risk, but allowing Iran to continue to destabilize the Mideast carries even greater risks.
This is especially so as Iran moves closer to developing an operational nuclear arsenal it can use as an umbrella under which to expand its exportation of terrorism and threaten the destruction of Israel, which it has described as a “one-bomb state” capable of being permanently ended by the dropping of a single nuclear weapon.
Many will see advocating a military attack on Iran now as warmongering and overly aggressive, but consider the lessons to be learned by Great Britain’s and France’s failure to attack Germany in the early to mid-1930s, as they had the right to do under the Versailles Treaty.
This failure to act allowed the Nazi regime to build up its military capacity in violation of that treaty.
The end result was a world war in which tens of millions of civilians were killed, rather than a preventive military action against a weaker Germany that might have killed thousands.
Even the Nazi leader Joseph Goebbels was surprised the winners of World War I did not take preventive military action before Germany was prepared to wage war.
“In 1933 a French premier ought to have said (and if I had been the French premier I would have said it): ‘The new Reich Chancellor is the man who wrote Mein Kampf, which says this and that. This man cannot be tolerated in our vicinity. Either he disappears or we march!’” Goebbels wrote in April 1940. “But they didn’t do it. They left us alone and let us slip through the risky zone, and we were able to sail around all dangerous reefs. And when we were done, and well armed, better than they, then they started the war!”
Will it come to that if we don’t act now?
Will it cost us many more lives if we wait until Iran has a nuclear arsenal?
Will an Iranian leader write someday what Goebbels wrote?
We fear those tragic possibilities if America simply lets Iran have its way, build up its military capacity and win the current war — which it is clearly doing now.