“SHOWDOWN” is splashed in large red letters across the cover of Newsmax, the April issue of the conservative monthly. Followed by, in smaller letters, “Iran’s Plan for a Second Holocaust Must Be Stopped.” And, in parentheses, in still smaller type, between the twin grim-looks of Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Israel’s Binyamin Netanyahu, the cover story brackets the author — [by John Bolton].
It is a remarkable document and a “must” read.
A superhawk, the former ambassador to the United Nations is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and has been leading the crusade to bomb Iran’s key nuclear installations. He is convinced that Iran, no sooner in possession of its first nuclear weapon, will fire on Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, and, if successful, Israel will cease to exist as a modern, vibrant Jewish nation.
For Bolton, Iran’s superannuated mullahs are members of the board of directors of a central bank that funds and arms terrorists worldwide — Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza, Shiite terrorists in Iraq and the Sunni Taliban and other radical groups in Afghanistan. Bolton also quotes James Clapper, the national intelligence director, saying Iran even has a “shotgun marriage” with al-Qaida.
A number of intelligence and military heavyweights — ranging from Israel’s three former principal intelligence chiefs (Mossad, Shin Bet and the Israeli military) who retired last year to three former U.S. CENTCOM commanders (Gen. John Abizaid, Gen. Anthony C. Zinni and Adm. William J. Fallon) — have weighed in against bombing Iran’s nuclear installations.
They also point out if Iran were preparing to fire anything at Israel, the Jewish state wouldn’t hesitate to incinerate Iran first — or by return.
They also know that Iran has formidable asymmetrical retaliatory capabilities that range from sowing hundreds of mines in the Strait of Hormuz (through which passes 20 percent of the world’s oil needs) to attacking oil production facilities in hostile Persian Gulf nations, as well as U.S. bases and facilities throughout the Middle East. Oil prices wouldn’t take long to triple.
Most of Bolton’s geopolitical backers were also those arguing for the invasion of Iraq, beginning a whole year before it took place in 2003. After spending more than $1 trillion in Iraq, the United States now has the world’s largest embassy in Baghdad — 104 acres on the banks of the Tigris, 15,000 employees, including 2,000 diplomats (versus 85 in neighboring Turkey), at a cost of $736 million and $1 billion a year to run — but it still lost the battle for influence to Iran. At least that’s what recent high-level Iraqi officials say when speaking privately on their visits to Washington.
There is nothing new about Iran’s nuclear ambitions. In 1968, a few months before Richard Nixon was sworn in as president, British Prime Minister Harold Wilson decided that Britain was giving up all of Britain’s security obligations east of Suez, all the way to Singapore. The Nixon Doctrine then decided to anoint the Shah Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi of Iran the guardian of the Persian Gulf and its statistic-defying oil reserves.
Throughout the 1970s, until he was overthrown by the mullahs in 1979, the Shah spent tens of billions on troop carriers — from nine Boeing 747s to huge Hovercraft — to be able to react in less than a day against any attempt by the Soviet bloc and its friends, like Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, to stage a coup anywhere in the Gulf. Throughout the post-World War II era, Britain managed the same security watch with the Trucial Oman Scouts for $40 million a year.
In 1972, the Shah predicted to this reporter that one day Iran would be a nuclear power to ensure the security of the Persian Gulf. No sooner was the Shah deposed by the mullahs in 1979 than secret plans were laid to pursue the same quest. Three decades later, they are almost there.
Arnaud de Borchgrave, a member of the Atlantic Council, is editor-at-large at UPI and the Washington Times. This column was syndicated by UPI.