Hawks and Cranks

Sean Hannity interviews Patrick Hannigan on negotiating with Iran

Long-time conservative Pat Buchanan and Fox News’ Sean Hannity had a disagreement about Iran the other night. It went like this:

“You believe we can make a deal with the Iranians? You believe peace with the Iranians in our time?” Hannity asked.

“I’m not scared of Iran, for God sakes. They don’t have an atomic bomb,” Buchanan answered.

Buchanan criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for overstating the Iranian threat over the years, saying, “Bibi is sitting on 200 atom bombs, and he’s fretting over Iran, which hasn’t even produced weapons-grade uranium?”

Hannity responded: “And this is going to create an arms race the likes of which the world has never seen, with one distinction, Pat. Now you’ll have nuclear weapons in the hands of radical Islamic mullahs. You don’t see that as a danger?”

“The United States could finish off Iran in an afternoon,” Buchanan scoffed. “What are you frightened of, Sean?”

Closing the segment, Hannity told Buchanan he was “dreaming,” and Buchanan told Hannity he was “hysterical.”

Hannity said that as Churchill took the words of Hitler seriously, he, Hannity, was doing the same with the Iranians who chant “Death to America” at their rallies.

“How did Britain end up when it followed Churchill’s advice?” Buchanan asked.

“They actually won the war,” Hannity said.

“Won the war?” Buchanan replied. “They wound up on American food stamps.”

It was an unusually frank discussion, and it’s interesting.

Buchanan argues that the United States could finish off Iran in an afternoon, if it had to do so.

But would it? Does anyone seriously believe President Barack Obama, or any of his probable successors in his own party, would ever use a nuclear weapon — ever, under any circumstances?

Does anyone seriously think that a Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush or Chris Christie in the Oval Office would do so, either? Ted Cruz? Maybe, although I wonder if his deeply Christian underpinnings would permit it.

Can you picture either a Republican or Democratic president supporting Netanyahu in doing so? I cannot. Even in the unlikely event one did, how long before the charges of “bloody dictator” and “war criminal” began to emanate from most of the media, academia, all of Hollywood and the rest of the free world, probably resulting in that President’s resignation or impeachment? This is 2015, not 1945 or 1946; not even close.

More than that, whatever happened to the principle of peace through strength? Wouldn’t it be better — both from a self-interested and humanitarian point-of-view — to do everything possible to prevent a nuclear war with Iran? If so, which approach would be better: Significantly increasing our military strength, precisely so we’d never have to use it? Or reducing it (in some respects) to pre-World War II levels, as Obama now proposes?

Let’s be real. Iran will make nuclear weapons — if it can — and ultimately use them, as a blackmail threat if nothing else, once it has them. The United States cannot necessarily stop this. But the United States does not have to give it implicit moral support, as Obama is doing, and pave the way, making it as easy as possible for them to have nuclear weapons (short of giving them weapons).

Peace treaties with known liars and murderers are worse than useless; they involve the aiding and abetting of violent, murderous thugs, which the regime of Iran undeniably is. While it’s true that Iran does not qualify as a superpower, it takes on prestige and capacity it never would have otherwise enjoyed as the world’s sole superpower — the United States — continues to reduce its credibility, both economically and militarily.

It’s noteworthy that Obama views the regime of Iran as a potential ally for the United States. Among other things, this suggests that Obama does not see the totalitarian religious regime of Iran as all that bad. Imagine a Democratic president trying to make allies with a racist government, such as the former apartheid government in South Africa back in the 1980s. Would Obama’s supporters applaud it, as they now support him in making allies with a nation that uses Sharia law to literally enslave women and execute gay people in the streets?

Obama supporters shriek about the possibility of a pizza parlor owner refusing to serve gay people in Indiana, but seem to have no problem with legitimizing an Iranian dictatorship that would probably murder that pizza parlor owner for being too easy on homosexuals, and for permitting female employees not to cover their faces.

Think about the conditions under which (Buchanan assumes) the United States and/or Israel would finish off Iran in a matter of hours. What would precipitate the United States doing this? It would be in the aftermath of a nuclear attack against Israel or — further down the road, if it got to that point — the United States. It would be retaliation for a catastrophe that would have already occurred. Is that to be our defense policy? Obama will not even provide that much. There’s no reason to think he’d retaliate even in that situation, although of course, like Buchanan, he insists it would never get to that point, anyway.

That’s where the principle of peace through strength comes in. In practice, this means: Keep your military superiority so overwhelmingly strong as against real or potential threats (not just Iran), that it’s very unlikely anyone would ever attack you. This isn’t an argument over how much of a threat Iran is. It’s not about nation-building or engaging in questionable ground wars. It’s an argument of how best to keep America safe, precisely so nuclear weapons would never have to be used, at least not in our country — and preferably not anywhere.

Peace through strength is not what Obama is pursuing. His policy is more of “peace through weakness — for the sake of our enemy.” If Obama were trying to destroy America intentionally, his policies would not be much different. He’s cutting our military by the day (most recently veteran retirement by 20 percent), and he’s empowering (morally and practically) the Iranian regime to do what it wants.

Obama repeatedly insists that Iran is nothing like the threat the Soviet Union once was, and never will be. Then what’s the desperate rush for a peace treaty with a regime that doesn’t want peace, and who sponsors, enables and harbors more anti-American terrorists than anyone on earth? Nobody will ask Obama that question, and it doesn’t matter much. He will do what he wants to do, regardless of the consequences, regardless of Congress, or anyone else.

With leaders like Obama, the United States hardly needs enemies. In fact, it appears that we have an enemy of our own objective interests, right in the White House.



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