Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton warned Americans this week that Iran is closer to a nuclear weapon than we may know.
Bolton believes the one year timeline for Iran to achieve the construction of a nuclear weapon, which a former head of U.N. nuclear inspections claimed Iran was on track to meet earlier this week, underestimates Iran's capability. Some have pointed out that Bolton's warnings have the same tone as those we heard in 2002 during the lead up to President George W. Bush’s Iraq War. Does this sound terrifyingly familiar to anyone? At that time, we heard how Iraq was a year away from a nuclear weapon.
But, the difference in the Iran case is we have a real threat. We know Iran can and most likely will make nuclear weapons, whereas we have still yet to find Iraq’s nuclear weapons after over eight years.
My fear is that Obama does not want to live with the same scrutiny that Bush has faced because of his decision to invade Iraq. Obama already pulled U.S. troops out of Iraq and seems reluctant to use military action. He has not been tough enough on Iran and, no surprise, Iran has continued to develop its nuclear weapons program. His latest sanctions on Iran’s central bank are a step in the right direction, but how often does non forceful diplomacy work when the person in charge of one country is unreasonable? Obama’s aides have claimed he is prepared to take military action on Iran if necessary, but I fear Obama’s definition of necessary may be too passive.
Iran is the first real threat the U.S. has faced in a long time, and they may be the most capable threat America has ever faced. Three things scare me the most about Iran: Iran’s ties with terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, their extremist Shi’ite Islam views which Rick Santorum points out could be the reason for Iran's building a nuclear weapon, and their current and past international power grabs like the Strait of Hormuz. For these three reasons, a preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities are needed. We cannot leave these things to chance, and we cannot trust Iran.
If Iran does follow this one-year timeline, it is not a guarantee that Obama will still be in office when Iran has developed a nuclear weapon. In fact, some polls have Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney ahead of Obama in a hypothetical race. For his part, Romney says he would put even tighter sanctions on the Iranians including denying them access to the international bank as well as the possibility of military use if needed. Romney claims he will not use troops on the ground but would not be opposed to organizing targeted military strikes if needed. I think Romney should go even further.
Only time will tell how this conflict in Iran will work out, but history would tell us that passive diplomacy does not and will not work. As this threat becomes more and more eminent, it is important for President Obama or whoever is in office in 2012 to deal with Iran properly. The commander-in-chief must not be afraid to use military action if needed. If things keep heading in the direction they appear to, it will be needed.
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