The Case for Bombing Iran

By Norman Podhoretz
Commentary, June 2007

Edited by Andy Ross

September 11, 2001, plunged us headlong into war. I call this new war World War IV, because the cold war was actually World War III. Like the cold war, the one we are now in has ideological roots, pitting us against Islamofascism.

The military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq cannot be understood as self-contained wars. We have to see them as fronts or theaters that have been opened up in the early stages of a protracted global struggle. The same thing is true of Iran.

The Iranians never cease denying that they intend to build a nuclear arsenal, and yet in the same breath they openly tell us what they intend to do with it. Their first priority is to wipe Israel off the map. They also wish to dominate the greater Mideast, and thereby to control the oilfields of the region and the flow of oil out of it through the Persian Gulf.

Consider the analogy with World War III. At certain points in that earlier war, some of us feared that the Soviets might seize control of the oil fields of the Mideast. In that case, we thought, the result would be what in those days went by the name of Finlandization. In the United States, we speculated that politicians and pundits would arise to celebrate the arrival of a new era of peace and friendship in which the policy of containment would be scrapped.

We won World War III. Alas, we are far from knowing what the outcome of World War IV will be. In Europe today, we already see the unfolding of a process analogous to Finlandization: it has been called Islamization. Almost all European politicians have been cravenly giving in to the Muslims' outrageous demands. Already some observers are warning that by the end of the 21st century the whole of Europe will be transformed into a place to which they give the name Eurabia.

Confronted by Islamofascists armed by Iran with nuclear weapons, we would become more and more hesitant to risk resisting the emergence of a world shaped by their will and tailored to their wishes.

Bernard Lewis said that MAD, mutual assured destruction, was effective right through the cold war. Both sides had nuclear weapons. Neither side used them, because both sides knew the other would retaliate in kind. This will not work with a religious fanatic, for whom mutual assured destruction is not a deterrent but an inducement. In the final scenario, we are doing them a favor by giving them a quick free pass to heaven and all its delights.

Ayatollah Khomeini: "We do not worship Iran, we worship Allah. For patriotism is another name for paganism. I say let this land [Iran] burn. I say let this land go up in smoke, provided Islam emerges triumphant in the rest of the world."

Ayatollah Rafsanjani: "If a day comes when the world of Islam is duly equipped with the arms Israel has in possession ... application of an atomic bomb would not leave anything in Israel, but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world."

Diplomacy has bought the Iranians more time in which they have moved closer and closer to developing nuclear weapons.

The weapons with which we are fighting World War IV are not all military. In exerting pressure for reform on countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia, nonmilitary instruments are the right ones to use. But Iran is not such a country. If Iran is to be prevented from developing a nuclear arsenal, there is no alternative to the actual use of military force.

The only thing worse than bombing Iran is allowing Iran to get the bomb.

His Toughness Problem

By Ian Buruma
New York Review of Books, 54(14), September 27, 2007

Edited by Andy Ross

World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism
by Norman Podhoretz
Doubleday, 230 pages

Norman Podhoretz refers to the neo-isolationism and pacifist sentiment that are supposedly rife in the elite institutions of American culture. This elite appears to be made up largely of clever people in New York who run the media. He wants to mobilize the common, decent, right-thinking people of America against this decadent elite.

Podhoretz is not hard to read. He trots out Bernard Lewis to lend some intellectual respectability and cites Lewis's analysis of Nazi as well as Stalinist influences on the growth of the Baath Party in the 1940s. Baathists, al-Qaeda revolutionaries, Shiite militias, Islamist insurgents, and terrorist gangs operating in the West are all brutal, dangerous, and capable of inflicting much harm. But to lump them all together as "Islamofascists" is a dangerous form of hysteria.

Podhoretz is aware that World War IV has its own special needs and strategies. Yet neither Podhoretz nor the "great president" he champions can resist the self-glorifying analogies of World War II.

Podhoretz points out that religious terrorism is the result of political oppression. The neocon strategy is to "drain the swamps" by democratizing the Mideast. That dictatorship breeds terrorism is plausible, but "draining the swamps" doesn't work well in practice.

Some of the dictatorships, such as the Iranian regime, are themselves active sponsors of Islamist terrorism. But as the United States has attempted to drain the swamp in Iraq, Iran has been greatly strengthened, while the Iraqi swamp is far from drained. Not only has the war unleashed a state of anarchy and civil war, but it has turned Iraq into a breeding place of revolutionary violence.

Podhoretz is convinced that the savage murders and daily atrocities in Iraq are actually "a tribute to the enormous strides that had been made in democratizing and unifying the country under a workable federal system." He blames the setbacks in our war against Islamofascism on Noam Chomsky, Susan Sontag, Norman Mailer, and the campus guerrillas of the hard Left.