Fareed Zakaria argues that Iran is no Nazi Germany, that "Washington has a long habit of painting its enemies 10 feet tall—and crazy," and that we all need to "take a deep breath:"
Iran is run by a nasty regime that destabilizes an important part of the world, frustrates American and Western interests, and causes problems for allies like Israel. But let's get some perspective. The United States is far more powerful than Iran. And, on the issue of Tehran's nuclear program, Washington is supported by most of the world's other major powers. As long as the alliance is patient, united and smart—and keeps the focus on Tehran's actions not Washington's bellicosity—the odds favor America. Ahmadinejad presides over a country where more than 40 percent of the population lives under the poverty line; his authority is contested, and Iran's neighbors are increasingly worried and have begun acting to counter its influence. If we could contain the Soviet Union, we can contain Iran. Look at your calendar: it's 2006, not 1938.Victor Davis Hanson argues that here are "three rejoinders to this notion that the Islamic fascists are hardly serious enemies, and cannot be compared to the old-time fascists who once started a war that led to 50 million deaths:"
First, Islamic fascism is already the creed of the government of an oil-rich and soon to be nuclear Iran. Secular authoritarians like Pakistan’s Pervez Musharraf could easily fall, and the nation’s nuclear arsenal with him, into the hands of the madrassa Islamists. It is not inconceivable to envision several nuclear bombs among one or more theocratic governments in the years to come.He concludes:
Second, in an age of weapons of mass destruction, global terrorism, and culpable deniability, authoritarian Middle Eastern regimes can, without being traced, subsidize and sanction killers, who in turn, with the right weapons, can kill and maim tens of thousands.
Third, in an interconnected and often fragile world, the mere attempt to blow up trains, jets, and iconic buildings results anyway in millions of dollars in damage to the West: ever more expensive airline security, cancelled flights, and money-losing delays and interruptions in a general climate of fear.
Given Iraq, Afghanistan, and the acrimony at home — so similar to the debate right before Pearl Harbor over the earlier discounted fascist threat to the United States — we apparently are waiting for the enemy to strike again, before renewing the offensive.I guess I find Professor Hanson more persuasive than Mr. Zakaria. How about you?
Update: Dean Barnett has more:
Zakaria is a smart guy, and, I guess the closest our society has come this century to producing a liberal deep thinker. But his thesis here is beyond obtuse. The sheer scope of its ignorance and wishful thinking is astonishing.
One must wonder where Zakaria has been the past five years. Has the concept of asymmetrical warfare completely passed him by? Has he forgotten how 19 determined murderers with box cutters nearly brought America to her knees?