Symposium 2010: Iran and North Korea continue their pursuit of nuclear programmes. Is it time to give up on diplomacy?

Diplomacy can only go so far. The Europeans have been trying, unsuccessfully, to deal with Iran for years now. Have they accomplished anything? Not at all. Iran is continuing to move forward with its nuclear programme with the help of Russia and possibly China. The talks haven’t stopped their programme. Sanctions haven’t done anything either. This song and dance isn’t working.

Winston Churchill said that appeasement is like feeding a crocodile hoping that it will eat you last. I guess the Europeans have forgotten that appeasement doesn’t have a good track record when you’re dealing with fanatics. In the case of Iran, you have a theocracy that is intolerant of outsiders. Their stated aim is to wipe Israel of the map. They are religious fanatics and reason will not get through to them. They can claim their nuclear programme is for the peaceful generation of energy all they want but if anyone is dumb enough to believe that they should have their head examined.

We need to resolve ourselves to the fact that in the absence of any strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities they are going to become a nuclear armed nation. They are going to have nuclear weapons in the near future; it’s just that simple. When they do get nuclear weapons capabilities, we’re going to hear a lot of moaning and groaning and whining from the very Europeans who thought they could talk Iran down. And in all likelihood, they’re going to point the finger and us and say, “Why did you let that happen?”

Sadly, the American people don’t have an appetite for any more excursions in the Middle East even if it only required simple military strikes to eliminate their nuclear facilities. America is not going to get an international consensus on any type of strikes and I don’t think we’re going to get any help in terms of a substantial sanctions policy that would actually be effective.

So, if we’re not going to do anything about it, and it doesn’t appear this administration has any appetite to do anything about it, the only other option is that Israel takes some kind of unilateral military action to bomb the nuclear facilities in Iran. That may or may not happen. I don’t think we can count on it to happen; there would be a lot of backlash from it, and we would certainly take a lot of flak for it.

While I personally prefer that we use drones to bomb their facilities, in the absence of that, I say just accept the fact that they’re going to be a nuclear nation and give them a very clear warning that if they threaten us or our allies with those weapons or if they fall into the wrong hands that we’ll wipe them off the face of the earth. Of course, we have to be willing to back that up. Clearly, this administration is not going to do that.

North Korea is another story. I think we’ve talked about this before in a previous symposium. I think they’re using that as political blackmail so that the regime of Kim Jong-il can stay in power. They have a history of rattling their sabre to get us to give them food or fuel or whatever the case may be. They’re not the religious fanatics that you have ruling Iran. I think Kim Jong-il is just interested in self preservation of his regime and the regime his son will inherit. I don’t really see North Korea as that big of a threat. I don’t think they’ll attack anyone. It would be suicide to attack South Korea or Japan.
The biggest risk I see from North Korea is that their nuclear capabilities fall into the wrong hands. I have no doubt that they would sell nuclear weapons to the highest bidder. We’ve still got to worry about nuclear weapons falling into the hands of Al-Qaida or other Islamic jihadist terrorist organizations. The terrorists would love to have a nuclear weapon that they could use against the United States. In that regard, I think there are some risks from a nuclear armed North Korea but I think that it can be dealt with by keeping the North Koreans in check and not giving them an incentive to sell out to the terrorists. I would still prefer some type of strike to take out their facilities as well, but that’s not going to happen.

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