25 September, 2007

Yes Virginia, There is an Axis of Evil, Part II

Must read op ed by John Bolton in today's WSJ.

A dramatic and apparently successful night-time Israeli air attack on Syria, whose details remain extraordinarily closely held, has increased the stakes. North Korea immediately condemned the raid, an action that raises this question: What is it about a raid in Syria that got Kim Jong Il's attention?

Israel's specific target is less important than the fact that with its objection to the raid, North Korea may have tipped its hand. Pyongyang's interest in the raid may be evidence of secret nuclear cooperation between the regime and Syria...

Iran's increasing hegemony over Syria makes Syrian-North Korean cooperation in nuclear matters unlikely without its consent. Although Iran's involvement here is murky, its incentive to conceal its own nuclear program raises the possibility of a three-way deal. Most chillingly, the United States and Israel must now ask whether the Iranian and North Korean nuclear challenges can be resolved in isolation from one another...

Even if we "only" have evidence of continued North Korean ballistic missile cooperation with Syria, that alone should keep the North on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. Syria -- and its senior partner, Iran -- are both long-time denizens of that same list of state sponsors of terrorism. Can we really delist North Korea when it partners with other terrorist states in the most destructive technologies?

Moreover, where are Syria's ballistic missiles -- and its weapons of mass destruction -- aimed? With American forces at risk in Iraq, no increase in the threats they face is acceptable, especially given Syria's record on Iraq to date. Syria remains at war with Israel and with Lebanon's Cedar Revolution. No one concerned about Israel's security or Lebanon's democracy should countenance giving North Korea a pass on the terrorism issue...

Developments in Syria should have brought the administration up short. Instead, the State Department has accelerated its efforts to declare "success," [in NoKo negotiations] a deeply troubling and dangerous sign. This reflects a cultural problem at State, where "zeal for the deal" too often trumps the substance of the deal itself.
It's all connected. It has been for quite some time. Those who scoff at the Axis of Evil as a paranoid delusion of George Bush, or the byproduct of our action in Iraq are simply deluded. Sorry. Facts are hard things.

One other thing: in Ahmadinejad's remarks at Columbia yesterday, he is widely purported to have said that "Iran is not going to attack any country". [emphasis added]

Thing is, Iran does not need to attack in the traditional, uniform-wearing state-on-state sense. It has Syria as a proxy if not virtual puppet and in much closer proximity to its primary target (Israel) as well as its secondary target (U.S. interests, i.e., in Iraq).

It also has Hezbollah. Same advantages. Even murkier and harder to retaliate against.

Furthermore, since Iran--and the rest of radical Islam--do not regard Israel as a legitimate country, and never have, Mr. Ahmadinejad's statement is technically true in his world--and therefore fiendishly clever. It's the equivalent of crossing your fingers behind your back while telling a 'white' lie... as if that somehow absolves one of the responsibility for telling it.

I use the word 'fiendish' advisedly. It's very much how Satan (the father of lies) talks in the Bible (not to mention unscrupulous attorneys, used car salesmen and politicians--with apologies to the honest ones out there who prove the rule): a narrowly technical truth, carefully engineered to make ambiguous a massive deception. It allows him not only 'wiggle' room but bragging rights with his home constituency. (Hey Achmed, they actually bought that "won't attack" line! Hah!)

The home audience was the intended one for the whole New York visit from the beginning: edited and spun by the tightly controlled Iranian state media as David standing up to Goliath and getting a standing ovation.

That's one part the mandarins that invited him just don't get: no matter what got said, the output of the encounter, and the very fact of his visit must have been deeply discouraging to those in Iran hoping for, or maybe plotting regime change. For those who believe that a non-military solutions is possible (and I still hold out slim hope), I have a question: why was it right to give a golden propaganda opportunity to this man when its effect as regards internal, peaceful struggle against the regime is utterly antithetical to peaceful solutions?

One more question bugging me: I still don't see how "Bush lied" (another story altogether); but, for those worked up about him having done so, I'm curious: where is the left's outrage about nefarious statements such as this one from the man who has actually sworn to kill us?